Behind the Picture: El Lepero by Teodulo Romulo

March 18, 2016 § Leave a comment

RomuloElLepero
Teodulo Romulo
El Lepero, 1981
77 x 93cm, hand-colored Mixograf

As artists and craftspeople grow more ambitious, their satisfaction with traditional processes can wane and desires to push further away from creative boundaries begin to manifest.

In the late 1970s, Mexican master artist Rufino Tomayo was asked by Luis Remba, a commercial printmaker in Mexico City, to contribute original art. Tomayo agreed, but refused to work within the bounds of traditional two-dimensional printing–he demanded more texture and dimension. Remba, originally a mechanical engineer, set about to create a machine that would allow Tomayo to print in a way that would accommodate. The end process is now termed a “Mixograf”–a mixture of graphic processes.

A Mixograf is a unique printing process in that the artist works on a beeswax plate. Cutting, drawing, and carving out the wax into a mold. The image from which would not be reversed, as with etching or lithography. To accommodate the high relief and textural nuances of the mold, a special hand-made 100% cotton paper slab is used for printing the final product. The thick paper also allows for the absorption of pigment, giving it a soft watercolor saturation.

Romulo plays with this new technique, joining Tomayo and other major Latin American artists, at the Mixografic Workshop (1979-1986). Figures, inspired by ancient Toltec and Zapotec tribal art, are etched into the surface and hand-painted.

The detail below shows the depth the artist is able to achieve with the thick cotton paper. detail 1

 

Here, Romulo demonstrates the smaller details of the etching.

detail 3

 

Playful, primitivistic iconography–characteristic of Romulo’s style–in the bird-like forms.

detail 2

 

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