Artists'club

Passionate about promoting toxin-free printmaking as an art form, the Print Club is offering artists a platform to experiment with mixed media, writes Purnima Sharma

Screen print

Just the mention of the word lithography for many would conjure up images of prints that go back to the British era — the famous 18th-century landscapes of India created by British artist Thomas Daniell, and his equally talented nephew William, who spent seven years in India creating work that can best be described as surreal and, of course, the recent works of legendary artist K G Subramanyan.

“Very few are pursuing this genre of art,” says Harmeet Singh Sodhi who, besides running an artists’ studio, the Print Club, in Delhi’s upmarket Lado Sarai, has started offering classes and workshops for those who want to learn the art of printmaking.

“With facilities for screen-printing, etching, woodcut, lino-cut, and plate lithography, our aim is to promote printmaking as an art form to those interested,” says the 31-year-old founder of the initiative. 

Changing perceptions

“There is so much to art. But people have a very myopic view about it — when they talk about art they will mostly think of just drawing and painting. And perhaps sculpture too,” adds Sodhi, himself a sculptor who has graduated in sculpture from the prestigious College of Art in Delhi, and later did his post graduation from the Camberwell College of Arts in London.

“This masters course was in Fine Arts but my focus was on sculpture,” adds Sodhi who confesses to being greatly influenced by greats such as Anish Kapoor, Anthony Mcall and Olafur Eliasson and the way they depict the sublime in their work.

While holding sculpture workshops are par for the course — Sodhi’s team, that also includes, Anushree Suri and Swarna Sagar, just organised one for visually challenged girls at a college— they also aim at spreading awareness and promoting the art of printmaking, too.

A unique space

After his return from the city of the Big Ben, when Sodhi had first started out, he had decided to convert a part of his family’s residential space in Dwarka that was lying vacant not just into an artists’ studio but also to hold printmaking workshops “because there aren’t too many in Delhi.”
But it wasn’t such a wise idea after all for “the distance was keeping people away.”

So, he shifted base to Lado Sarai “where the trio is not just offering work space to artists but also educates people about the beauty of the different streams of art,” he adds.

Traditionally, printmaking requires a lot of equipment and involves a fairly elaborate and tedious process. Giving examples, Sodhi talks about how etching is normally done with the use of strong acid to cut into metals such as copper and zinc, etc, and screen printing involves techniques that use a woven mesh to create a stencil, and through that impose designs on a screen of silk or other fine mesh.

“But, we’re going a step further – and are slowly becoming successful in eliminating not just the use of elaborate machinery and methods but also in creating toxic-free processes like acid,” stresses the artist.

 

So what is happening is the creation of a method that lets you go home and do this work all on your own — with materials straight out of your kitchen.

“The art of printmaking too has become very experimental,” explains Sodhi and this is evident from the way artists are using mixed media, bringing prints, painting and sculpture together.

Combining different types of printmaking — like screen print on different materials such as wood, cloth, paper etching, and screen printing on cyanotype (a type of photography process) print, and video art with traditional prints – they are making art connoisseurs sit up and take notice. And letting non-artists do it for themselves.

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