My participation in its 20th anniversary celebration..

Mark Murphy owner of Murphy Design in San Diego, California, has invited me ” to create an original piece of artwork based on a Cartoon Network character and interpreted in my own style and artistic voice.” we have agree onthe evil characters or symbology of ” Samurai Jack” . I am not so sure if I ever mets such a monsters in the very streets of New York City  where I work, or maybe I have desolved it from my mind as the ‘Lord ‘ want us to forget our hardships …and remember of  “spices and everything nice“.

hydrapinion 1 – linoleum cut

It seems that we  aiming towards gardens of flowers but instead keep on endless stumbling onto an alley of garbage cans and absurdities …No, I am not sniffing cynically, rather  my time to be officially senile as come. But, how to put up with this, after all we must be the only civilization able to invent a liar as big as Santa Claus?  — But we know that is to the benefit of  getting sold  plastic toxic toys — Is that evil?  No, it is just our arrogance that keep us being on the denial from facts other ancients civilizations had well figure it out — we have been able to add possibly a twist of perversity — not an  ordinary one , we are good on creating an evil that delivers good returns!

What makes nature overall [ not just the human minuscule one] but having TWO sides! Existence could not possibly be without the plus [ + ] and the minus [-]  principle. If you don’t believe check the screen you are able to read me words during an electricity black out !

hydrapinion 4 – preliminary sketches

This TWO part from our  very nature, this duality is expressed by  some Mexican pre-Columbian artist in their clay work: a face or a body splited  on two, one side representing life and the other death. Some Ancient Nord American Indian Culture have the creator symbolized with one “warm” side and and ” icy” one — needless to even mention to any one of  the “yin-yang” … American West Coast indian had not the most prestigious looking animal as a God on top of their totem pole: raven.  Once walking on a deserted trail I met a young geologist that explain me that the top of a cliff I was walking on use to be the bottom of the sea, utill one day one terrifying ‘force’ flipped it like a coin or a Suzette crepe.

In a semi-philosophical terms we cannot wish to ‘change evil,’ in other words we cannot expect ‘nature’ to be different that what it has been, is, and will be…it remains a  complete component within us. Maybe we can refrain it from overpower us. Trick the evil? Sure, all what we need is keeping on dumping gasoline into the fire, therefore accelerate not just our own destruction but other forms of life and expression of it …because even so we may choice the suicidal pass how could we dare pulling other beings to destruction? So far we have managed to ‘fabricate’ environments so alien to the essence of nature  that one planted real tree in our cityscape appear off,  like a zombie . The reason for such a “success’ is because we have figure out  a way to ‘gears’ fabricated pieces into one an others to end up with an ever expending uncontrollable monster.  Of course our  bio organism is trapped by ‘tools’ we are unable to masters making us believe we are free and liberated while deepen into enslavement. All this is a broken record you will said… let me see if by scratching linoleum I could make better sense.

hydrapinion 5 – cutting into the linoleum block

The ‘gearing’ reference come from my drafting class when attending boarding school at…14 year old — not allow any ‘fantasy drawing’. I was required to ‘design-conceive’ metal part and  draw them as ‘plans’ as well as 3 D,  to be hypothetically manufacture later on by others. I worked on metal working machines, physically creating simple metallic mechanical devices with high measuring pression — their were frightening to use and so was the instructor, harsh physical punishment was imposed on failing to follow strict safety rules — not so much to terrorize my classmates and I but rather to force us on focusing on our work and above all to warn us that the tools we were operating high speed dangerous devices from whom anyone could get potentially harmed on the shop. Like vaccination, injecting small doses of evilness to try overcoming big evilness.

hydrapinion 6 -cutting into the linoleum block

I never quiet paid attention to theses old year, the subject of our discourse made me realize why it become so easy , almost intuitive to cut linoleum. Compare to metal or wood working it is really like cutting into butter, still the same principle of concentration during the cut do apply. Other ‘law’ of the cutting experience is that what is removed cannot be put back. It will never be forgiven.  A woodworking bench is precious to own — one needs to secure the piece of linoleum block on the same manner a cabinet maker does it with a plank of wood. Craftsmanship is what linocut is about , this is a word  ‘modern’ design and illustration does not often use, except nowadays for letterpress type, recently so popular …

hydrapinion 7 -cutting into the linoleum block

I have been constantly advocating that working only with hard sharp tools is not sufficient, one must make good use of  DAY light. Any carved works, even into thin material [ like in the case of linocut], it already a 3D experience, it will always benefit from being practiced outdoors…the French Impressionists [ they did not call themselves like this] were the first ones to take the canvas and paints OUT from the studio, it could be consider as a unique esthetical experience if it was not  for the fact that it imitated …the Japanese prints! Talking about ‘reference’, influences and any ‘copy cat’ …imagine Vincent Van Gogh dropping this luggage’s in South of France and writing a letter to his brother Theo.  ” ..I find my Japan…”

hydrapinion 8 -cutting into the linoleum block — detail

The interest to photograph my work is not for esthetical direct reasons, simply it allows me eventually after the work is ‘finish’ to revisit my trail,  questions may raise : would I have been better of if I had just stop cutting sooner? Why did I choice to move in that direction instead of an other? Understanding  what I did not consider — to other it only record of a work in progress. Cutting linoleum must be like I imagine a chess game, every move have consequences: successful or costly!

hydrapinion 9 -cutting into the linoleum block

As silly as it maybe seen, I like to walk around with my ‘product’. See out de it fit near by the cityscape nightmare, against the texture of an old wall, or  how does it compare to the far away Williamsburg Bridge. The edge of a blade, the edge of a roof top, years ago it was the edge of inline skates blades… not so much ‘living on edge’ but where is this line the shifting occurs and why? Same like meeting a schedule ,”submit your original artwork for display in this year’s Cartoon Network Comic Con Reception and Exhibition Celebration June 11.”

hydrapinion 10 – printing the linoleum block

hydrapinion 11 – printing the linoleum block

hydrapinion 12 – printing the linoleum block

Certainly it cannot be denied that esthetical it is possible to achieve a different ‘definition’ by having a cutted block printed [ we cannot ignore what was its historical function]. But nowadays  the web mets exactly this function except in a larger scale: It allows ‘multiple ‘ transfers [ don’t you hate this word copy?] The fact that this transfer made onto a piece of paper or with the recording of a digital camera and re-transfer throughout attachment, we are dealing with the same principles. I have been dealing with the question if it was anymore relevant or not to print a linocut!

Printing allows to tune up and image in total different way, true, but it involves lots of testing and drying. On February I visited an open door art school in Paris and asked a silkscreen young male student why was he considering learning this technic ? I thought it would be happier with dealing digitally only, and why risking to dirty ones fingers? His reply was very significative: he felt it could  achieve better precision results, come out with a superior quality image — controling-mastering better a process made no doubt it would lead to better esthetics. The printed linocut would remain the ‘exact proof’ of my intentions — so far what my  computer screen reads red, yours may read it pink! The calibration, the custom made versa the mass produced. Where to we go, were do we stand? You tell me.

hydrapinion 14 – printing the linoleum block

hydrapinion 15 – printing the linoleum block

hydrapinion 16 – printing the linoleum block

hydrapinion 17 – printing the linoleum block

Testing colors:  what appears on your ink slap is never the same that what appear after transfer on paper. The color itself is only one aspect of the process. Other questions need to be answer.  What is the thickness of the layer applied onto the paper ?  The amount of  pressure applied? What does a difference quality paper does? What drying time between applied  color layers?  Are part of the equation is solved by making many  ‘proofing’ and selecting which resulting test make the best possible balanced image.

Thank you Mark.

? drawings, linoleum cuts, photographs and texts copyright Raymond Verdaguer, 2012.

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