School of Art
Down the Rabbit Hole
Marcelle Hanselaar RE20 October – 28 November 2008
Whenever I get a request to write something about my work, my first response is: are my images not sufficient? I am more eloquent and explicit visually than literally and therefore the reverse action of having to textualise my images feels counterproductive.
I discovered etching only a few years ago. Because I am an oil painter I think in layers and tend to build up a tonal quality of line and aquatint by repeatedly adding new grounds. Most of the time I draw directly on a hard-ground plate in a sort of sketchy doodly mode till these feather light lines evolve into the kind of images and subject matter which I think will work. At the end I stop out some of these sketchy lines but they nevertheless will leave a shadow of line-history on my plate, which is a quality I like.
My plates are not very big, roughly about half the width of my midriff.
Etching is a medium made for drama and darkness and because darkness makes me more courageous and less self-conscious I often draw late at night.
Somehow the combination of a sharp etching needle with a dark ground animates my descent into the rabbit hole, a place where a fierce nameless longing bares its teeth.
The subject of my drawings contain many references to my daily life, memories or experiences dressed up as people I have observed at the bus stop or in the underground (public transport is a very good place memorize people’s bodies) mixed with on the spot associations.
A theatrical use of props like stripy beach screens in Lot and his daughters or Sisera wearing Calvin Klein briefs mixed with objects as found in genre painting give the image an eclectic source reference.
Working on several plates at the same time keeps my momentum going; equally, it gives me the chance to play around with certain effects from one plate to another, choosing copper or zinc as the mood takes me. As a painter, I like to counterbalance the harsh bitten lines with the poetry of aquatint and I especially love using spit-bite, the danger and unpredictability of that method being part of its appeal.
In addition to their great drawing skills, the sensual and playful approach to printmaking techniques of artists like Beckmann, Dix, Goya, Rembrandt and Picasso are a constant source of inspiration and delight to me.
London, May 2008