This series of monotypes titled Urban Analogue by MEAR ONE was created over a seven-year period between 2003-2009 with the late great Southern California master printer, Pat Merrill.
Each work from this series is unique, they are based on the artist’s subconscious exploration of his everyday structural and psychological environment growing up on the streets of LA. The spontaneous and liberating process of experimentation and execution inherent in this art form allows ad-libs of thought and subversive irony to flourish and which feature prominently in these works. Though more like his live art than his graffiti and tags, MEAR ONE draws from both practices to bring to this series a certain energy, speed, and fluidity from the streets that translate into remarkable movement, texture, and abstraction onto the surface.
MEAR explains “As an artist one of the many interesting aspects of this personal journey is the ability to explore different mediums, and a great teacher recognizes these abilities and helps you do exactly that.”
“Pat Merrill understood my natural affinity for the graphic arts and language that resonated seamlessly with monotyping. In printmaking you have to think outside of the normal realm of color, shape, shadow, and light gradients because everything becomes limited and decisive. Pat confronted me with several technical challenges, stripping me down of my traditional process, providing a new palette and tools, which in this case gave birth to the discovery of mark-making by scraping and removing as opposed to adding and applying. Through this reductive process I recognized in this medium something special and unique unto itself that even my studio paintings could not achieve.”
“It was only when I accepted it couldn’t be like my paintings that I decided to make my printing reflect my process. With finished works you don’t want to show people your process, but if the intention IS the process itself then it suddenly makes the work far more exciting. And that’s exactly the point. If I’ve created something new and unique that no one was expecting, and that isn’t necessarily referenced by me, then I’ve done my job. Otherwise everything becomes a monotonous montage of what you are used to and nothing sticks out, nothing is spectacular. But Pat was insistent that I get outside of myself, find new ways of doing what I already knew so well, if only to renew and refresh the spirit.”
“Pat Merrill was a master printer, artist, curator, teacher, scholar, philosopher, Vietnam veteran, a critical mind, an advocate for the peace movement. We shared similar world views that allowed us to vibe off one another throughout the creation of this series, and in many ways that dialogue is captured in this work. The end result, what it does for me as an artist, when I come back to my paintings it amazingly improves my realism, my structural design, or my understanding of the physical form so that there exists a symbiotic relationship wherein one supports the other. When Pat passed in 2010 he left behind this legacy of discovery. With the recent passing of another great master printer, Richard Duardo, a huge hole in Los Angeles culture was exposed and it is to these great teachers I dedicate this exhibition.”
Images courtesy of Birdman