Helen Frankenthaler:
Tales of Genji

March 10 - April 30

Tales of Genji I (1998)
limited edition print

Painter Helen Frankenthaler was crucial to the development of colour-field painting in its transition away from Abstract Expressinism, creating abstract works with fleeting suggestions of landscape, of lyricism, lightness and airiness in washes of thinned paint poured and stained into unprimed canvas.

She has also experimented extensively with printmaking techniques, including intaglio, lithography and woodcut in effort to determine the balancing of methodology, scale and effect on what remain her highly original colour and mark-making.

In the six prints from the Tales of Genji series, Frankenthaler returns to the pursuit of watercolour-like effects of the Japanese ukiyo-e woodcut technique, printing in as many as 53 transparent colours on 47 x 42 inch tinted, handmade cotton papers. The theme of the series' title is a tribute to The Tale of Genji, a romance about the passionate meanderings of an emperor's son in Heian, Japan, written by a court lady known as Murasaki Shikibu in the 11th century - considered by many to be the world's first novel. This tale inspired countless ukiyo-e woodcuts since it was written. Although Frankenthaler, assisted by the artisans at Tyler Graphics, steps aside from both strict Japanese printmaking tradition and pictorialization, the essential spirit of ukiyo-e [which denotes the "floating world"] is far from abandoned.

© Ted Lindberg