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MAURICE KAHN SCREEN PRINTS (article first published : 2003-03-16)

Due to present an exhibition soon at the NSA’s Park Gallery is Maurice Kahn who lived in Durban from 1971 to 1976. During this time he taught at the University of Durban Westville and ran a private printmaking studio in Morningside. He emigrated in 1977 and since then has been a senior lecturer at the Bezazel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.

This will be his third exhibition at the NSA Gallery following shows in 1978 and 1981. “I cannot believe two decades have passed since my last show in Durban. I am really sorry I’ve not exhibited here more frequently. There is no excuse!” he states.

During the past two years he has produced the 21 screen prints to be exhibited at the NSA, each edition taking some 100 hours to complete. Besides this creative work, he also teaches two screen-printing courses at Bezazel and is involved in an intensive research project into environmentally friendly printmaking technology.

His students now use “his” water-based screen printing inks even though he still uses solvent-based inks in his own work. However, he expects his next exhibition in about two years’ time to be printed in permanent water base colours.

Teaching his own creative work and the research project leave little free time yet Maurice manages another career – that of an international tennis chair umpire - which takes him to Europe, Asia and Africa all too frequently.

The exhibition consists of a portfolio comprising three suites: Origami; Ornithological – Ichthyological, and West Ireland Experience. There are a total of 20 screen prints in limited editions of ten, printed on 100% cotton, 270 gsm Arches cover paper and 290 gsm Fabriano Rosapina paper. Paper size: 63 X 52 cm, image size 50 X 36 cm. The editions were conceived and printed in Jerusalem during the latter part of 2001 through to 2002 and completed early 2003.

All the works are charactersised by overprinted surfaces of flat, dense and unmodulated colours, often layer upon layer. Some occasional colour gradations accentuate clearly defined through limited space. The deceptively simple interplay between positive and negative areas and between warm, cool and juxtaposed complementary colours results in subtle ambiguities. This is intended to provoke surprise discoveries, tease the eye and stimulate visual excitement. In some works there is also an additional element of humour such as Flying Pig, Flying Fish and other Birds; Chocolate Chips and Barbels and other Fish (subtitled Beauty and the Beast).

The Origami Suite is angular and geometric, The Ornithological – Ichthyological Suite, inspired by the Red Sea’s magnificent Coral Reef, is both spiky and curvilinear. The West Ireland Experience Suite combines all these elements. It is essentially a diary of a visit to Ireland during the summer of 2002, an ongoing recollection of the Irish Coast and landscape, their forms, muted light and changing colours.

Before printing, the creative process involved conceptualising, drawing and collage stages. Then up to 25 colours printed in sequence and fitted into position as in a jigsaw puzzle. Printing in final colour can be compared to putting the last remaining piece in the puzzle. The results reflect quiet, private woks of fantasy.

The exhibition runs at the NSA Galleries from March 18 at 18h00 to April 6.




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