Calado: Filipina Printmaker Lenore Lim’s Solo Exhibition

Calado: Filipina Printmaker Lenore Lim's Solo Exhibition

Lenore Lim‘s solo exhibition Calado will be on display at Tally Beck Contemporary, 42 Rivington Street, New York, from May 8 to June 21, 2013. There will be an opening reception at the gallery from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm on May 8. Tally Beck will give a brief talk on the history of contemporary art in the Philippines at the gallery on May 22, with a reception beginning at 6:00 pm and the program beginning at approximately 7:30 pm. An artist’s talk and Q&A with Lenore Lim will take place at the gallery on May 29, with a reception beginning at 6:00 pm and the program beginning at approximately 7:30 pm.

For many artists, the print is an auxiliary artistic medium. Printmaking is the technique that permits multiple editions of a painting, drawing or collage—substitutions for the original. Lenore Lim fortunately does not subscribe to this myopic viewpoint. Although the process is often laborious and challenging, printmaking is Lim’s primary medium, and she employs it to produce original, personal works of art.

In his 2005 catalogue essay “Profound Afterglow: The Prints of Lenore RS Lim,” Prof. Rubén DF Defeo divided Lim’s iconography into two categories: nature and nostalgia. Her tenth solo exhibition in the New York area, Calado, curated by Tally Beck Contemporary assistant director AJ Wilkerson, demonstrates these enduring themes. Botanical forms comprise the majority of the nature pieces while the nostalgia-themed works recall the textile work of her native Philippines. Calado refers to the style of openwork embroidery popularized during Spanish colonial rule, and an eponymous lithograph is a component of this exhibition.

Blossoms 4, a lithograph from 2010, is an example of Lim’s tendency to interpret botanical forms into the abstract. The medium lends itself well to the inky central image, and this black iconic form gives the composition its strength and stability. At its edges, the monolith dissipates into attenuated stems and tendrils, and diaphanous primary and secondary colors form an encircling aura. Lim has us less concerned with delineating the precise blossoms and shifts our attention to appreciating the formal elements of lithograph. She uses color, shape and line to capture our senses through contrasts. The amorphous black mass is balanced by intricate linear elements. The hot orange, yellow and red tones at the top of composition melt into a cool pool of periwinkle on the sides and bottom. While Lim incorporates linear and tonal components to evoke blossoms, she conspicuously avoids direct representation.

Her nostalgia pieces involve more specificity. The details of the fabric reproduced in Calado demonstrate her interest in intricate pattern and texture. Similarly, Baro’t Saya (the unofficial Filipina women’s dress) invites us to consider tactile elements. In addition to embodying notions of gender, nationality and temporality, the subject matter is enhanced by the medium of lithography. The unevenness of the ink creates the impression that the material is faded and fragile, and the flatness suggests that these bits of fabric memory have been pressed into a scrapbook. Here Lim uses lithography to imbue her subject matter with romantic nostalgia.

Even while working with similar themes, Lim carefully alters the formal elements to surprise and delight her audience. In doing so, she reveals some details and masks others. She seems to actively invite the viewer to consider the intricacies and immense power of her chosen medium.