Brian Shannon, Saturation, (1998)
relief prints on silk organza
Brian Shannon is a Portland printmaker with a difference. Although thoroughly trained in the traditional forms, he and a group of colleagues in the graduate printmaking program at Cranbrook Academy in Michigan were encouraged to see printmaking as an open-ended and fundamentally a conceptual matter. The evidence was, that as a matter of reproducible mark-making, anything could be a plate (or matrix) and anything could be a print (essentially "squashed ink") on any material that would receive it.
Shannon is also committed to abstraction and its vast potential, letting colour or monochrome, shape, found pattern/texture and superimposed collaging on opaque, transparent and translucent materials deliver the total effect.
In his more traditional flat and framed work, Shannon's formal abstractions are cerebral and restrained: they bring to mind the purist and pragmatic disciplines of artists such as Robert Motherwell.
In the leap from employing reflected to transmitted light Shannon makes his most telling statements about his natural/industrial surround and the future of printmaking as a medium. His installations are three-dimensional constructs of print-marks on translucent material (such as silk organza) in a state of seemingly exponential growth. With matrices selected from the endless detritis of a real world, Shannon is conceptually at liberty to explore colour, illusion and space with the impudence and wit of a Dieter Roth and the ebullience and flair of a Robert Rauschenberg. In this new show of two- and three-dimensional works, titled "Building Nature," Shannon's extrapolation of a technique (actually a revolt against what has often been dismissed as a dull, technique-obsessed artform) is exceptional and exciting.
© Ted Lindberg