We Will Rule the World

Bath: OttoGraphic, 2018. Signed Limited First Edition. Hardcover. Fine / Fine.


Copy 9 of 25 signed, numbered copies. 14 pages of original art and text by Otto, stencil painted by hand in watercolor (pochoir). Artist's statement: My screen printing workshop lies next to a free range chicken farm and I often watch the birds and their behaviour. They frequently fly over the fence, and one day a chicken entered the workshop. After meeting the bird face to face I decided to make a book about chicken, as they are not usually given due recognition. The wrap-around sleeve and [front] endpaper is screen printed, otherwise the book is 'printed' by applying washes or watercolour through hand-cut stencils. This technique was used by Russian designers during the 1920s as a cheap and quick way to print posters. Those were distributed across Russia and displayed in shop windows to instruct the population. The most well known artist using this medium was Vladimir Mayakovsky, who worked for the Russian State Telegraph Agency as a painter and poet. Personally I like the aesthetic of this technique, with its visible brush strokes and occasional bleeding of ink. It is more direct than screen printing and you can see traces of the process. Stencilling combines the two disciplines of painting and printing. For me printmaking is both art and reproduction, and with stencilling both are in perfect balance. I find it exciting to work with stencils, as I am in constant dialogue with shapes that are in turn positive and negative, open and closed, full and empty. Making designs for stencils requires a particular approach, not just to make the stencils work physically, but also for the designs to look interesting. The simplicity of the method often tempts me to underestimate the difficulties of composition. There is a constant challenge to keep the balance between line and shape and maintain harmony of white and solid areas. So the designs went through many changes before making it to final art, resulting in multiple patches on the stencils. I found that stencil prints correspond to the appearances of chicken in the field. At first their colouring appears the same, but after closer observation the distribution of brown and white is different from one bird to the next. I have enhanced those differences by leaving some of the shapes half open, allowing for feathery brushstrokes to become part of the design. The image on the wrap-around sleeve is a representation of the actual stencil used for the front cover. White paper-covered case binding decorated with stencil-painted text and images in black and red. Four folios center-stitched as a single signature with the final leaf serving as the rear pastedown. Illustrations and text stencil painted on 310gsm white Somerset tub sized satin. Front pastedown is screen printed on 160gsm Heritage Antique incorporating the screen-printed colophon which is signed and numbered in pencil by the artist. Complete with screen printed wrap-around sleeve, with artist's statement on front flap, also on 160gsm Heritage Antique. 27.5cm x 38cm.

Price: $500