Monotype: Michael Mazur
April 19-20, 2003
One of the most creative artists working in New England, painter Michel Mazur is internationally recognized as a master of contemporary printmaking, both of the editioned print and of the “unique print,” the monotype. Mazur combines a mastery of traditional drawing skills with a powerful urge toward unconventional experimentation, breaking down the barriers between various printmaking media in a distinctly contemporary manner.
Born and raised in New York City, Mazur studied first at Amherst and then at Yale. Reacting against his urban upbringing, Mazur has repeatedly been drawn to the natural world, to green and growing things, to flowers and trees. Even his abstract paintings of the 1990s, the “Mind Landscapes,” have a landscape dimension.
A lively dialogue takes place in Mazur’s work between the drawn line in black and white and the painterly gesture in color. The medium of monotype, of which Mazur is a contemporary master, brings to the printed image the spontaneity and immediacy of painting. Inspired by the monotypes of Edgar Degas, Mazur has used the phenomenon of “ghosts,” the pale residual images that monotype can produce, to explore serial or narrative ideas in which the image evolves from sheet to sheet.
Mazur’s social commitment is evident in his troubling, claustrophobic Closed Ward and Locked Ward series from the early sixties, made while the artist was volunteering as an art therapist at a mental institution. These are the prints that first drew attention to his work. His literary side is seen in his several book projects, whether his early woodcut thesis project An Image of Salomé or his recent monotype illustrations to poet laureate Robert Pinsky’s translation of Dante’s Inferno.