In the summer of 2016 Polly Apfelbaum produced 40 monoprints with Durham Press during a week-long visit. Titled Atomic Mystic series, the prints were made in three sizes with distinct identifiers—Atomic Mystic Particles (13 5/8 inches squared), Atomic Mystic Portraits (25 7/8 x 17 inches), and Atomic Mystic Puzzles (25 inches squared).
The series was created with the assistance of six printmakers who inked hundreds of woodblocks in assorted colors and patterns, including rainbow rolls, which Apfelbaum has been incorporating into many of her recent prints. The artist then spontaneously placed the blocks in printing jigs to explore different color combinations and compositions. These range from structured grids to starburst motifs to geometric, botanical imagery inspired by the Italian Futurist Giacomo Balla’s vibrantly painted wooden flower sculptures.
A departure from Apfelbaum’s previous collaborations with Durham Press, the Atomic series arose from a process similar to that of her sculptural and painting works, such as her “fallen paintings” consisting of many dyed fabric components that the artist arranges in situ on the floor, or her Feelies, which are made of colorful plasticine and clay that is left unfired so the pieces can be changed and reworked over time. Adaptability and fluidity are key features of much of the artist’s oeuvre, and the Atomic Mystic series represents her most concerted effort to integrate these concepts into her printmaking process. Created quickly, each monoprint serves as a kind of printed sketch, revealing unexpected moments of variation and exuberance.
Monoprints from the Atomic Mystic series, as well as other prints by Polly Apfelbaum, are available directly through Durham Press. For more information, please contact Gwyneth Fearnhead.