For this exhibition , Cirrus will present prints by New York based artist, Vija Celmins. Included in the exhibition are lithographs published by Cirrus Editions Ltd., from the 1970’s to her more current wood block prints. Vija’s obsessive commitment to the themes of Ocean, Sky, Desert, and Galaxy, has led to a body of work rich in variations while limited in images. The prints are all in black and white and each image, although similar, is in reality a new space, a new surface. Vija works from photographs that she has taken of the ocean at Venice beach California, as well as photographs of others, such as the galaxies. Celmins makes many works from the same photograph. This process is quite opposite of the current trend of making works of art into editioned photographs. Staring at the ocean on a gray day the water is always moving. The surface is alive, and even if one cannot have a true sense of scale you are always reminded of it by your presence. However in Celmins work you cannot access movement, or light reflections, or space in perspective, and scale is non-existent. All of the images have no beginning or end. Vija’s works are frozen in focus much like the photographs they come from. We are transported into that grey world , that Celmins says she enters every day and proceeds to draw her way out of.
In printmaking Celmins used mediums such as lithographic pencil on stone, mezzotint on copper, and engraving on wood, all of these methods expose the direct mark of the artist as purely as possible, leaving nothing to chance. The densities of the surfaces are achieved through layering, of multiple printings of transparencies in the case of the lithographs and through sharp contrast of the white line in a black field, in the wood engravings. All done in painstaking proofing sessions until the right combination is reached. Over the last 30 years Vija has produced no more than 35 editions, and probably the most important of those are the set of four prints representing, Sky Ocean, Desert, and Galaxy. The most often used images in her work. Vija has had three retrospective exhibitions, one in 1980 Newport Harbor Art Museum, 1992 ICA, Philadelphia, and 1996 ICA, London.