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10.10.15 - 07.11.15 Presented by Gallery TEN

Copyright c 2015 Gallery TEN, Edinburgh First Published in 2015 by Gallery TEN Designed by Paul Musgrove Created in Adobe - In Design Printed by DTP Edinburgh Paper - ARCO - Printed Set in Arial and Gill Sans Photographic & text copyright remains with the artist or gallery unless otherwise stated AB photograph copyright Norman McBeath All image copyright Alfons Bytautas 2015

Laterna Magica - An Introduction “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Albert Einstein

With the ever-increasing advance of time, I seem to be rediscovering interests or obsessions that I enjoyed when I was much younger. Early in my life I became fascinated with the uncanny and the fantastical – magic and illusion, Gothic fiction, horror films and so on. These were not necessarily unusual preoccupations for a teenage boy in the 1960’s. This naturally filtered into my strong interest in drawing & painting and I developed a liking for Surrealist art, which seemed to have a strong affinity with my other boyhood interests.

I delighted in discovering the work of artists such as Max Ernst & Paul Klee and began to experiment with the free association of images in both drawings and collages. Decades later, as a more mature but not necessarily wiser artist, I seem to have come full circle and I have resumed my old researches with renewed vigor, particularly in the use of collage. Once again I encourage myself to adopt, whenever possible, an irrational approach to image making and to welcome chance and accident as potential sources of inspiration. My love of the fantastic & mystical in both art and nature has also been rekindled. My current aim is certainly not to copy nature as such but to represent it as transformed by dreamlike states of mind, using methods similar to that of automatic drawing to instigate and guide the process. What now appears to be an enduring interest in man, magic and symbol has once again come to the fore in this new collection of recent works on paper. The boy speaks to the man. Alfons Bytautas Newcastle upon Tyne, September 2015

Head Study (1) Gouache 2014 29 X 30 cm

Head Study (2) Gouache/Ink 2015 19 X 22 cm

Body & Soul Gouache/Ink 2015 16 x 22 cm

Jump For Joy Gouache 2015 18.5 X 24 cm

Truth to Tell Gouache/Collage 2015 20.5 x 27 cm

Lost for Words Gouache/Collage 2014 20 x 27 cm

Secret Place Gouache/Crayon 2014 28 x 39 cm

Preface Gouache/Collage 2015 19.5 x 27 cm

Bitter Chill Gouache/Crayon 2014 20 x 27 cm

Observer Gouache 2015 18 x 11 cm

Reunion Pencil/Gouache 2014 26 X 34.5 cm

Head (A.B.) Pencil/Crayon 2015 22.5 X 28 cm

Head Study (3) Gouache/Collage 2013 32 X 24 cm

Head Study (4) detail Gouache/Collage 2014 24 X 32 cm

Head Study (5) Gouache/Collage 2013 32 X 24 cm

Head Study (6) Gouache/Collage 2013 21 X 15 cm

Head Study (7) Gouache/Collage 2013 21 X 15 cm

Head Study (8) Gouache/Collage 2013 21 X 15 cm

Artists Talk - Materials Interview with Alfons Bytautas When initiating a piece or body of work, how do you determine the materials you will use? The choice of materials will depend on which technique or process I am using at that given time. I usually tend to work uninterrupted on painting for a while and then maybe stop to devote myself to making a s eries of drawings or prints. I use fairly conventional materials (paint, ink & paper) and I have developed a liking for certain types or brands. Often my fondness for particular media is based on previous experimentation to achieve a particular effect. I particularly like matte effects in paint and chose to use gouache or casein tempera in several paintings because of its velvet matte quality. My choice of water-based paints of all kinds is based on my need to be able to over-paint quickly over a dry paint film, working in layers that differ in terms of opacity, transparency or viscosity. In printmaking, the process will dictate the materials used. I have been exploring silkscreen more and enjoy the fact that the inks are simply modified acrylic colours, not industrial inks.

Do the materials that you use have a value in themselves, or are they just a means to an end? In one sense I can see that certain materials could be viewed as being part of the romantic paraphernalia of being an artist, with little or no intrinsic value in the grand scheme of things. However I must confess to an ardent fascination with the materials themselves – their composition, the history of the use, etc. And particular materials have sensual qualities that can act on the imagination by their look, feel and smell. The sweet sharp odour of pure turpentine always conjures up memories of being student at Edinburgh College of Art. The fragrant smell of melting beeswax that emanates when preparing an etching plate is also curiously evocative for me. This is all part of the alchemy of the process. With etching, the materials used are indeed alchemical – metals and acids – and the process can be often unpredictable due to the subtle chemistry involved. Chance plays a large part in the procedure. I like that. Also I think you tend to favour some materials for some reason or another and you can develop an inexplicable liking for a favourite brand or favourite colour. Paper is hugely important to me and I hoard paper of all kinds. Ostensibly I buy paper for drawing and painting or for printmaking but secretly I buy it because it is such a sensual desirable object in itself. Also I have a supply of images/text from old books and magazines for use in my collages.

Please discuss any correlation between ideology and materials in your practice. My “ideology” is pretty much based on a belief in the importance of art as both a maker and consumer. Art provides the means by which I can experience and/or record certain states of mind that I simply cannot access through rational thought alone. Gerhard Richter believes that painting is a different kind of thinking. Also he points out that “by conveying a thing through the medium of language, you change it.You construct qualities that can be said, and you leave out the ones that can’t be said but are always the most important.” The materials I use to make paintings or prints are building blocks to help me construct the work. The way the materials behave when I use them does influence the “mood” of the work. Chance plays a significant role too – something I encourage through different approaches to creating an image. This can be as simple as trying to “switch off’, avoiding conscious control. Sometimes the initial concept can be totally obliterated through working and re-working. Interestingly new opportunities often emerge phoenix-like from the residue of an aborted strategy in an attempt to simply “get it right”.

Smears, runs, drips and mishaps in general can suggest a fresh new approach. In printmaking, the practitioner regularly faces a myriad of technical challenges that creates ample opportunity to be creative in dealing with the pitfalls of the medium. There is real satisfaction in problem solving, in overcoming adversity.

Do you consider what your materials might look like in the future or are you just thinking about how they look when you use them? For example, do you consider whether the materials might change? In the past I did concern myself with using conservation standard materials (particularly for framing works on paper) but I have relaxed my attitude somewhat in recent times. I do however use good quality materials and try to adopt a sound working method. This should ensure that the works have some kind of longevity. However I am only really concerned with the way the work looks after completion. Once the work leaves my ownership I don’t really worry about what it might look like in 100 years or whether it will be preserved for posterity – others must decide, depending on what value (monetary or otherwise) they deem the work to have. To fret about the fate of your work, particularly in times when there are critical global issues that we all should be concerned with, seems a bit stupid.

Alfons Bytautas - photograph by Norman McBeath

Are your materials significant in how you identify yourself as an artist? As I don’t use any materials or processes that are unique to myself, I guess not. Also I am not really interested in the notion of using “traditional” materials in the making of the work either. I am interested in acquiring knowledge about the materials I use but this is purely for my own interest. However I do think a painter should be engrossed with material qualities of paint itself – just as printmakers tend to be. Those of us who make prints can (and do) have long discussions about the merits of different kinds of black ink! But a word of warning - a total fascination with paint or pigment may identify you simply as a “craftsman” or a “technician”, rather than that rare being, a real “artist”.

This interview first appeared in PEEL Magazine in 2013: this is an edited version, with the kind permission of PEEL magazine, Gallery North & Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Tried & Tested Gouache/Collage 2015 40 X 50 cm

Wish List Gouache/Collage 2015 40 X 50 cm

Head Study (9) Gouache 2014 19 X 22 cm

One & Many Gouache/Collage 2015 40 X 50 cm

“AB-Head” Etching 2014 18.5 X 23 cm

Head Study (10) Gouache 2014 24 X 32 cm

Kopfstudie (1) Etching 2014 14 X 21 cm

Kopfstudie (2) Drypoint 2014 18 X 15.5 cm

Kopfstudie (3) Etching/Drpoint 2014 18 X 15 cm

Kopfstudie (4) Etching 2014 18 X 18 cm

Timeless (1) Lithograph 2015 15.5 x 21 cm

Timeless (2) Lithograph 2015 15.5 x 21 cm

Timeless (3) Lithograph 2015 15.5 x 21 cm

AB GX15 (3) “Metamorphosis” Gouache/Crayon 2014 18 x 24 cm

AB GX15 (23) “Fusion” Gouache/Crayon 2014 18 x 24 cm

Alfons with William Hayter in 1982 - Photograph by Sean Hudson

ALFONS BYTAUTAS RSA DA (Edin.) Art Education: 1972-76 Edinburgh College of Art – Diploma in Drawing & Painting 1976-77 Post-Diploma (with Distinction) – Drawing & Painting 1986 Atelier 17 (with S.W. Hayter), Paris, France Biography: 1978: Lecturer in Printmaking, Edinburgh College of Art 1978-79: Assistant, Public Art Scheme, Livingston 1979-2009: Printmaking Assistant /Senior Etching Technician, Edinburgh Printmakers 1986: Printmaker-in-Residence, Soulisquoy Printmakers,Orkney 1987/88: Establishes studio, “Bonfire Editions”, Edinburgh 1992: Artist–in Residence, Hirson, Thierache, France 1993: Elected Associate of The Royal Scottish Academy 1998: Invited Artist, Iwate Art Festival, Japan Invited Lecturer, Da Hatchery Print Studio, Shetland Invited Lecturer, Print Studio, DCA, Dundee

1999: Invited Speaker,“Printmaking & Education”, IMPACT International Printmaking Conference, Bristol, England, UK 2000: Invited Artist/Printmaker & Invited Speaker, Conference on “Printmaking & the Environment”, Frans Masereelcentrum, Belgium Invited Lecturer, Soulisquoy Printmakers, Orkney 2001: Invited Lecturer, Amsterdams Grafisch Atelier Invited Lecturer, RHOK, Brussels Royal Scottish Academy Award, The Sir William Gillies Bequest Fund Visiting Artist Residency, Frans Masereelcentrum, Belgium Visiting Lecturer, Printmaking, University of Northumbria 2002: Visiting Lecturer, Taigh Chearsbhagh, North Uist 2004: Course Tutor/Lecturer, Centro Andaluz de Arte Seriado, Granada, Spain Course Tutor/Lecturer, The Sidney Nolan Trust, The Rodd, near Presteigne Consultant on Acrylic Resist Etching & Photopolymer Printmaking, Stowe School, Buckingham “A Printer’s Miscellany: 25 years In Print” Exhibition, Edinburgh Printmakers Gallery 2006: Appointed Academician, Royal Scottish Academy Course Tutor/Lecturer, Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries Course Tutor/Lecturer, Green Door Printmaking Studio, Derby Technical Advisor, Printmaking, School of Fine Art, University of Newcastle Public Lecture, “Rembrandt & the Secrets of Etching”, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

2007: Course Tutor/Lecturer, Fermynwoods, Kettering Visiting Artist, Rugby School 2009: Visiting Artist, MGLC, Ljubljana, Slovenia Appointed Technician & Senior Demonstrator, Fine Art Printmaking, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne Speaker, “Artists & Printers” Symposium, First International Print Biennale, Newcastle upon Tyne Technical presentation, IMPACT International Printmaking Conference, Bristol, England, UK 2012: Public Lecture, “Love, Life & Death: Edvard Munch & Printmaking, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh 2013: Appointed Principal Technician (Arts), Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne Visiting artist/tutor, Uppingham School, Rutland Recent One-Man Exhibitions: 2009 “Lost Time “, Edinburgh Printmakers, Edinburgh 2010 “Aubade”, XL Gallery, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne 2013 “Alchemia”, Gallery TEN, Edinburgh 2014 “Recent Work”, Sutton Gallery, Edinburgh 2015 “Alfons Bytautas: Mirror”, Newcastle Arts Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne “Alfons Bytautas: Laterna Magica”, Gallery TEN, Edinburgh

Alfons Bytautas - photograph by Owen Logan 1985

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