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Murtra Editions – Artist versus specialist in engraving

By Conxita Oliver, Member of the International Association of Art Critics.

When an artist’s work is faced with the idea of etching, it is like an alchemist who, with the help of burin, the scraper, the needle, acids and varnishes creates prints, stretches, trails and traces. He acts like a magician or conjurer, or like a goldsmith who turns something hidden deep inside the matter into something which is real. He draws, cuts, makes incisions, scratches, erodes, polishes, inks...putting all his skills into obtaining something new; something which can make his dreams become reflected on paper. In this sense, it is truly an alchemist’s magic to contemplate the other side of the image, which is fruit of a lengthy process, with many steps, unfolding sequences, interwoven states which are only revealed and materialized when the engraving is printed. A plastic adventure, a field of investigation and creation, which, like a work of architecture grows in various stages which are interpretations of the work and intentions of the artist.

The original graphic work is becoming one of the means most employed by contemporary artists; this is clearly a contribution to the world of collectors, both for its accessibility and for its lower prices. Graphic work and multiples have helped art to expand more than any other manifestation of art. This is why it has become an objective of small and mid-scale collectors, enabling them to acquire works of art of outstanding artists at prices which are not prohibitive. Since the first thirty years of the last century, plastic artists have created an authentic revolution in the concept of this discipline by using instruments and new materials in such a way that the academic norms and the canons of the trade have lost their validity. In this sense, the artist has been freed from the burden of history and techniques, and has to face up to the concept of intaglio, having to tackle it in no established fashion, with completely new ideas and risky proposals.

Demand for freedom of research, in experimentation and in innovation, will be what will most characterize the contemporary artist. Yet these new challenges, which have destroyed the academic models of the trade and have become the hallmark of contemporary intaglio, could not have been created without the determined participation of technical master printer who use all their know-how to make the plastic proposals of their creators viable. These professionals have been and still are exceptional players in this spectacular renovation, and thanks to them nowadays almost anything can be materialized in the form of intaglio. This has meant that it is possible for the creator to confront engraving with unexpected freedom, thanks to the technical experience acquired by the engravers and the spirit of investigation which they have put into it. The creator does not often have to confront the process on his own, for he needs the complicity, the backing and the help of the specialist who translates all his plastic aspirations into realities. We believe that no other artistic discipline gives so much importance to techniques as graphic arts do, and that the true space where it should be developed is the workshop. It has been a long process in which Catalan workshops have had an important role: some adequate scenarios where hands are forming thoughts. This is where the collective nature of graphic art stems from, and the importance given to the privilege of the singularity of the creator and the skills of the resources of the engraver.

The tandem formed by Pilar Lloret and Jordi Rosés, who are professional intaglio printmakers since 1983, are a magnificent example. In 1992 they founded Murtra Editions, a workshop specialized in intaglio and edition of original intaglio prints. They are part of a new concept in etching as concerns the drive towards new adventures and technical advances, but at the same time respecting and defending traditional techniques. Their main activity is centred on their professional print workshop, specialized in intaglio printmaking for making prints, artists’ portfolios and artist’s books for publishers, museums, firms, art-galleries and individual artists. Their team assumes entire projects and all processes involved, and with their experience, take care to transfer each and every plastic value for artists who are avid for new kinds of results. Their specific familiarity with processes include the intermediate stages, from the production of the matrix which depends on both the artists’ efforts and expert hands, to the final product which is the print itself. It is a professional workshop which offers artists both its innovative infrastructures and its technical assessment for projecting their work into the world of graphics; it also has designers, scale modelists and bookbinder who all have their own specializations.

The Murtra Editions workshop, situated in Arenys de Munt, on the Catalan coast near Barcelona, is internationally known and renowned for its capacity to respond to the most surprising requirements in expression, both in those of large dimensions, typography, or techniques (?????), and in those of the application of a very wide variety of resources or the use of superimposed techniques. Another advantage is that the artist can stay in an apartment in their house – the workshop is on the ground floor – which provides an enriching experience for a working holiday.

Another important aspect of Murtra Editions - www.murtraedicions.com - is that it is focused on the world of publishing, in which its works falls into 3 categories: artist’s portfolios work, artists’ books and intaglio prints. The artist’s portfolios work of prestigious and renowned artists include L’art pot morir (art may die), a homage by several artists to Joan Miró; Incendis (fires), with etchings by Frederic Amat and poems by Vicenç Altaió, and El cel d´Orió (the sky of Orion), with etchings by Jordi Rosés and poems by Perejaume. Outstanding works in the field of artist’s books to which new artistic material is added include Bestiario by Rafael Alberti; 7 Poemes a Tàpies, with etchings by Tàpies and poems by Jordi Carrió, and Esmolar la Garrova, with etchings by Sandra Lehnis and poems by Biel Mesquida, to name a few.

Pilar Lloret and Jordi Rosés also dedicate some of their time to teaching and explaining the art of intaglio, both in Spain and in other countries. In 1984 they founded the International Summer School of Printmaking in Arenys de Mar, which the following year moved to premises in Calella till 1991; since 1999 they give a course in intaglio printamking on a regular basis in the Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation in Palma de Mallorca, and since 1997 they direct courses in the intaglio Workshop of the Institut Municipal d´Acció Cultural at the town hall in the city of Mataró. They have also organised several exhibitions and monographic shows from the world of intaglio and in 2006 they created the website www.gravat.cat designed to make intaglio something better known. Since 1991 till the present day they have organised more than 50 courses, in which teachers and pupils from all over the world have taken part. As to the diffusion of intaglio, they were the promoters of the website www.intaglioworkshop.com which became like a dictionary of terms from the world of intaglio printmaking in different languages, directed to users everywhere, so that they might adjust specific vocabulary of this discipline to make it more similar and share it.

The recognition of Murtra’s efforts has been demonstrated both in the awarding of the ACCA (Associació Catalana de Critics d´Art) prize for their role in the world of intaglio and in editing or bibliophiles, and in a LAUS prize for graphic design.

Från vänster översta raden:

Home and workshop
Murtra workshop
Pilar Lloret making a collage of Francine Simonin
Jordi Roses and Francine Simonin
Artist’s garden
Claret Serrahima and Jordi Roses
Från vänster nedersta raden:
Jordi Roses inking
Jordi Roses and Francine Simonin making a sugar lift
Perejaume working
Pilar Lloret inking
Apartement Francine room


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