Monday, January 21, 2013

Samson Mnisi, Out of Africa

Samson Mnisi at Flatbed 2008
Samson Mnisi's last name can be translated as "Rainmaker" and he comes from a family of whom it is said cured drought in South Africa.  We met Samson at Flatbed when he came to Austin for the first time in 2000 as an invited speaker for the Austin Museum of Art’s exhibition, “Liberated Voices," which featured works from artists freed from apartheid in South Africa. This was one of the first major exhibitions to explore the work of a younger generation of South African artists who had emerged since the fall of apartheid. Samson Mnisi’s work was featured in the exhibition. A politically and socially active figure in the African National Congress during the apartheid era, Mnisi had participated in the post apartheid regime as a cultural organizer, artist and activist.
Samson was in Austin for enough time to get restless from not making art, and when he learned of Flatbed, he made up his mind to spend some time in our studio making monotypes as he loved to do in his hometown, Johannesburg.  Working on his own, he created a series of highly expressive and iconographic monotypes. When he returned to South Africa, he left all the work with Flatbed to be sold for him here. 
Mnisi, untitled, Monotype, 2008
Fast forward to 2008, Samson was back in the USA and showing in major expositions throughout the world.  Circumstances brought him back to Texas and he came to Austin to work on more monotypes.  This time he set his sights on our large press to create a cycle of large seven foot by three foot monotypes.  Master printer, Tracy Mayrello became his collaborator and they commenced to create a cycle of ten multi-layered monotypes that were incredibly dense with symbolism and color during a period of four weeks. Tracy, who is a master of using the single level viscosity monotype method, layered rolled-on colors with Mnisi's direction.  These color fields with Mnisi’s painted imagery worked brilliantly to create the dense, large unique works on paper.   Mnisi, using the large near 72" x 36" format, had the perfect, vertical, person-sized surface to create a map-like image that one can almost fall into.
Mnisi, untitled, Monotype, 2001
Most of the monotypes from this cycle have now been placed with collectors or taken to Samson’s exhibitions, but one belonging to Tracy is a part of the “Advancing Tradition – Twenty Years at Flatbed Press” exhibition now touring in various museums and galleries.  It will be on tour until the end of 2013.  Flatbed retained one monotype that is reminiscent of the African soil with its historical markings embedded.  Flatbed’s inventory also has ten smaller consigned monotypes.  They all share the sense of Samson’s land and its history.  Studying his prints, the markings start to become as familiar as our own body's lines, scars and marks, creating a beautiful kind of familiarity.  His work speaks of paths, history of the land, and the stories that are inherent in the places now in our memories.
I would suggest that you call and make an appointment to see these works.  We are proud to be able to represent Samson in Austin.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Come to the Table

This Monday evening, January 14, you are invited to a visual and culinary feast.  Places are laid for 30 people to come to the table at Flatbed for this unique pairing of artist Jeff Scott and chef John Bates..

About the art: Experiencing Jeff Scott's new photo-polymer gravures seems to spur and sharpen our senses and observations in a way we don't expect. The exhibition now showing at Flatbed, "Evidence of Obsession," is a sampling from 50 works created at Flatbed in 2010. Images of these works were used in his book, Notes from a Kitchen: A Journey Inside Culinary Obsession, which was awarded the James Beard award for photography in 2011.  All these unique works are now available for collectors.

The content and method used to create these works stress the obsession of both the artist and the chefs.  We see obsession in the notes, the push for perfection, the constant searching and tweaking. 
Scott deconstructed conversations and interviews with the chefs finding phrases that captured the moment. Using these phrases as word images, he layered the words much like a layered dish presents separate and compatible taste and textures to create an overall content/taste/experience.  Working with Master Printers Tracy Mayrello and Katherine Brimberry he transformed the photographic images and word images using multiple processes of printmaking.  In the finished works, we take in the phrases with glimpses of notebooks, menus.  We find order amid a chaos of information acquired over a lifetime.

About the meal:  Austin chef, John Bates, is conjuring up a seven course tasting dinner and he promises to do this with a few surprises.  Bates is the co-owner and chef of the Noble Pig which is well known for their high-quality ingredients – including select local and sustainable items – and a practical, crafted approach to making good, satisfying food.   Prior to launching the Noble Pig in September 2010, John was involved with two well-known Austin restaurants as executive chef for 2 ½ years at Asti, and as a sous chef at Wink in the two years prior to his time at Asti. John attended culinary school at Del Mar College in his native Corpus Christi, graduating in 2000, and credits his work in a variety of restaurants since 1991 in helping him to refine his culinary skills and define his approach.

A place at the table of this event comes with a signed copy of Notes from a Kitchen. This is a two-volume book with over 1,000 photographs and in-depth interviews with highly innovative chefs including Sean Brock.   In order to place a reservation email:  Flatbed Press.  

More information can be found at:  Invitation to the Evidence of Obsession event