Printmaking: Linocuts on Paper.
About the prints:
It is a cycle of prints, i.e. a print portfolio containing 6 prints, multi-coloured linocut, titled “The Dove Postcards”.
With these prints my intention was to combine art, tradition, Vukovar and a message of hope.
The prints are dedicated primarily to the sacrifices made by the town of Vukovar and its inhabitants, but in this time of global economic crises and uncertainty of life (unemployment and temporary employment), time of war, epidemics and natural disasters, the collapse of ethics and social moral, they are also dedicated to all those who tread through the wreckage of their lives day in and day out.
Although the motifs of the prints are the ruins of a beautiful town, “a town that suits everyone”, with the windows which no longer look out into the streets, windows which have ceased to be the eyes of the town, left now only to gaze skywards through the broken down roofs; still I have chosen that motif and I tried to weave into it all of my positive emotions of hope – not of death, not of hatred, not of despair, anxiety and resignation, but to remind that “…when life and fate close all doors on us, providence opens a window of HOPE…”
And with the material world of walls, beams and bricks falling down and disintegrating, the wide open windows and the infinite blue skies foreshadow the hope of a new beginning.
The last 20 years have been too long for the town of Vukovar and its people to carry the burden of the symbols of death, pain, suffering, of dark, injustice, dying and graves. We need to fina providence and to hope that, like the Phoenix, Vukovar can and will rise from the ashes and the ruins, and shine in all its glory, because all the victims, all the tears shed and all the painful sighs and gazes directed at the blue infinity of heaven will not and cannot stay unanswered.
The town of Vukovar and its people deserve to become a symbol of strength and positive emotions, a message which they can now send out to the world!
These 20 print portfolios are my contribution to that message.
I expanded the mentioned motif and message to three towns which experienced devastation of a different cause, but with similar consequences, and so, with this portfolio being dedicated primarily to Vukovar of 1991, I also dedicate it to New York of 2001 and Fukushima 2011… I will not finish the sentence with a full stop because this story will continue, as there have always been wars and natural disasters, but one must always have HOPE.
The title refers to a “Dove” which is not portrayed in the prints – it is the observer, my messenger, sending Hope to the world. This Dove could be the Vukovar Dove, the dove of piece or the Dove of the Holy Ghost.
Each print was printed on 20 print sheets, so a total of 120 print sheets were printed for 20 print portfolios.
The prints were printed off 3 matrices – linocut where I used the semi-relief effect (anaglyphs), because in the 2nd and 3rd print I cut out the empty spaces in the matrix to get a relief of the parts of walls.
Cold colours are dominant – different shades of blue (each print has a different combination of shades of blue) for which, to achieve the effect of the blue skies, I applied gradient inking, using two big rollers at the same time. I also used smaller amounts of other colours: purple for shadows and window frames, warm colours sanguine and sepia for bricks, and ochre with sepia for beams.
The paint was applied to the matrix by hand, using a roller.
The prints were printed on a manual press in the Kazamat graphics workshop in Osijek.
The paper type is Fabriano Rosaspina 220g.
Dimensions of print sheets are 700 x 500mm.
Some reviews of my work:
The Dove Postcards / Vukovar 1991, New York 2001,Fukushima2011/
In the linocut collection The Dove Postcards (2011) the young graphic artist from Osijek Dora Bratelj reinterprets the motif of broken windows gaping from the still unreconstructed buildings of war-torn Vukovar. These macabre scenes are a symbolic testimony of the hardships of war and the survivors’ resignation over the reality of their grim and anxiety-filled prospects. Her metaphor – the collection is dedicated to the victims of Vukovar, New York and Fukushima – is a sublime representation of human suffering, because it is “dedicated to all those who tread through the wreckage of their lives day in and day out”.
The linocut series is above all interesting as an entirety, devised in stages, involving in its procedure several imagination steps. Dora’s procedure can be analyzed from the moment the motif was selected, recorded in a series of black and white photographs, then transferred onto a canvass, and finally realized in the graphic medium. We are talking about a theme taken over from devastated buildings of Vukovar, with their cracked facades, and empty window frames gaping ominously like frames of a picture of a small piece of the sky seen through the torn rooftop, a view blocked by charred beams. All over the walls of the ruins, between the debris of bricks and shards of glass, torn curtains and window blinds, broken window lintels and wall brackets of old town buildings (which are no longer a refuge but a painful testimony), there is an almost surreal overgrowth of creeper vines and bushes of wild plants. These photographs were used to make a series of large canvasses of hyper-realistic facture, exclusive in its content and focused on the picture-frame motif of the window. As its graphic analogy there is this linocut collection of six sheets, made in 700x500 mm format, published in a hundred and twenty print sheets for twenty print portfolios. The composition syntax has been broken down to a simplified and almost abstract set of motifs (bricks, beams, window frames), mirroring the structure of the linocut matrix which reconciles a carefully controlled graphic “handwriting” and the spontaneity of the cuts. The morphological similarity of the composition elements of the print sheets gives a balanced tone to the linocut collection when it comes to interpreting its content, as well as a distinct expressiveness of the “handwriting” and the texture modulation which can be seen on the linocut print. A recognizable signature of the metaphysical and contemplative atmosphere of the linocut collection is a finely graded, surreal colour of the sky, envisaged as a mixture of different shades of blue and applied onto the linocut matrix using colour modulation technique (“Verlauf”). The hygiene of the print sheet is undeniable, and it is the result of careful and painstaking, several months long work on a manual press in the printing workshop Kazamat in Osijek, so the artist’s dedication and perseverance certainly deserve credit.
Determined in her intent to reinterpret the sad reality of Croatia, Dora Bratelj raises the contentual designatum to a higher metaphysical level, to a more intimate, spiritual sphere, completely congruent with her sensitive personality. Therefore, Dora’s Postcards in linocut can and should be interpreted twofold. They are interpreted as symbols and as a memory imprint of the hardships of war – or maybe as a token for a brighter future, because in their metaphysical vedutas they carry the message of piece and hope of the Vukovar Dove.
Ružica Pepelko, BA Art History, senior curator,
Department of Prints and Drawings,
Keywords: surrealism, graphic, hand press, multicolor linocut, methaphysic