Greg Shattenberg: Prints and Drawings

April 10 – May 30, 2015

Greg Shattenberg_Play_2002 for web

Greg Shattenberg employs a variety of media to create artworks that explore the use of language as an element of image making. He is an accomplished printmaker who, over the years, has experimented with a wide variety of printing methods from woodcut, etching and lithography, to photographic processes such as collotype and color copy transfer. This exhibition includes a selection of works from the last 20 years which feature Shattenberg’s use of letterpress techniques to complement his images.

As a young artist studying painting and drawing, Shattenberg experienced frustration when he was unable to successfully achieve the original ideas for his works and he felt constrained or limited by the conventional processes of image making. In response to this dissatisfaction and his perceived failure in resolving imagery, Shattenberg introduced writing into his drawings. He recalls, “It was unsettling to look at the piece and realize the writing was more interesting than the drawing.”

In the process he has subsequently developed, Shattenberg introduces text improvisationally after completing an image, building upon and adding to the context of the artwork. Through the careful selection of language, form, and typeface, he explores the use of printed words and phrases as aesthetic elements as much as for their emotional or narrative contributions to his imagery. The artist readily admits that combining language with imagery presents a different set of constraints. Language is inherently cerebral and its presence in Shattenberg’s images creates a tension with the visual sensuality of his drawings and prints.  Shattenberg concedes “images with language are an impossible fit. They do not naturally go together and do not function singularly.” He is also cautious of the risk in printing text on top of artworks since the wrong solution can ruin a carefully worked image. For Shattenberg, however, the practice of layering text on top of imagery is a dynamic and revitalizing process, in which opportunities far outweigh the risks.