July 6, 2010
Printmaker Jacob Samuel Works ‘Outside the Box’to Capture Artists’ Visions
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Samuel refers to what he has done as “serial imagery,” making images in sequence, which he derived from conceptual art of the 1970s. “I always liked relational images, sequencing, narrative and even abstract narrative,” he reflected.
On a separate day, Samuel led a tour on a walk-through of the first gallery in the show, during which he told the story of flying to Paris to meet Horn.
“I hate prints,” Horn told Samuel upon first being introduced.
“OK. Why?” he asked.
“Because the imprint is backward, and I don’t want my images to be reversed,” she said.
Samuel quickly proposed that they use transparent paper, even though at the time he didn’t even know if such a thing existed.
As it turned out, through Hiromi Paper Inc., whose retail store is at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, Samuel was able to get transparent paper from Japan. So he traveled back to Horn’s studio in Paris with the paper, and this time he brought along his portable aquatint box.
“I was in her studio, according to her rules,” Samuel recalled. Horn instructed Samuel to put away his tools, and she began to inscribe the plates using twigs, fruit stems and lychee nuts. The result is a series of images about open-heart surgery, using ink the color of blood and paper the color of her skin.
“The artist gets exactly what they want,” Samuel told the visitors to his exhibition. Even if what they want requires Samuel to fly back to Paris again so that Horn could add a few dots and marks that Samuel refers to as “the face,” or even for a third trip, so that Horn could add two faintly crisscrossed lines to the top corner of another image.
A visitor asked Samuel about his budget.
“There’s no budget,” he responded.
“Who covers the costs?” he’s asked.
“I’m the publisher. I cover the costs,” he replied. “It’s my job to just show up and be open to the artists.”
For Samuel, it’s the end result that makes it all worthwhile. “There’s nothing arbitrary about what’s going on in these prints,” he said, as explanation for his commitment to fly to Paris to work with Horn, or Buenos Aires to work with Guillermo Kuitca, or to FedEx shrink-wrapped wet plates back and forth between an artist and himself 33 times.
Back in his studio, Samuel replaces the lid on the DC rectifier, crouches down to slide the Grateful Dead magnet safely aside and cautiously turns the dial. He flicks his finger against the pane of the voltage meter.
“No, no. Nothing.”
He flicks his finger against the pane of the voltage meter again. After a moment’s hesitation, the meter bounces up.
“Whoa! It worked!” he exclaims. “Oh man! It worked! It worked! It worked!” He stands to give both his neighbor and his assistant high fives with both hands.
“It worked! We’re plating! Oh man! Let’s do this thing!”
John Zorn, Jim White and Bill Frisell blast from the stereo, and the plating continues.
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