Earlier this autumn, The Mead Carney art gallery staged a very special exhibition to showcase the latest, groundbreaking work of the American artist Jeffrey Kroll, which combines mobile photography with inkjet printing, to spectacular effect. Val Hirst reports
As awell-known and much revered abstract artist, whose work has been exhibited in some of the most prestigious galleries around the world, Jeffrey Kroll is used to extending the boundaries of creativity. In fact, you could argue that it’s his job to do so.
However, his most recent exhibition, entitled ‘Strata, which was held at London’s Mead Carney Gallery, from 24th September to 4th October, broke totally new ground, as it saw him combining mobile phone photography and UV printing to provide the base canvases for the stunning selection of his work illustrated here.
Jeffrey explains that his aim was to show how the commonly used medium of phone enabled digital photographycould be used in a more original and innovative way than the never-ending stream of ‘selfies’ that we have all become accustomed to.
He says: “I wanted to explore the ways in which I could use this now ubiquitous medium to provide my work with an extra element, but I didn’t appreciate in the beginning just how successful it would be!”
He goes on to say that his usual technique is to produce artworks that are made up of numerous different layers of paint, applied one on top of the other, but in this instance, once he had completed the first version of each painting, he photographed it on his Samsung phone at very close quarters, before compressing the file and outputting it on a JetrixUV flatbed printer.
He confides: “ UV printing was another first – I’d previously used roll-fed inkjet machines for my work, but UV printing technology was something new for me and I have to say, I’m very impressed! I used a high-grade, primed fine art canvas and the resulting output was really something.One of the many features of the Jetrix machine is that the curing heat can be adjusted to provide precisely the surface finish required and, in this case, what came off the printer was as smooth as satin, yet there was still this wonderful depth and richness of colour.”
Using the printed canvases as his base, Jeffrey then applied more of his trademark paint layers to reproduce the series of hauntingly evocative pieces that his fertile imagination had originally conceived.
Of course, the photographs included here, lovely as they are, can’t possibly do his artworks full justice; in the flesh the originals are almost breathtakingly beautiful, combining a subtlety of shade and colour with an almost 3D-like effect. They are paintings that invite the eye to linger for fear of missing some small,finely nuanced, yetexquisite detail.
Jeffrey declares that he has been beneficially inspired by the whole experience and hopes that other artists will be equally moved to discover new ways of harnessing the technologies currently on offer.
He muses: “I don’t think the art business is doing enough to celebrate and combine the technology of digital imagery with the power of the human hand, yet there are great possibilities. For example, the Jetrix printers can be used to print onto a wide range of different materials and thanks to their bed size, the scope for producing even very large paintings, such as those in the Strata collection, isn’t limited in any way. Indeed,I think the greatest artistic opportunities still lay ahead.”
For his own part, Jeffrey is now looking forward to capitalising on the full breadth of capabilities that the Jetrix printer offers and already has an exciting new project in mind, which involves the recreation of some original Korean religious scrolls and will, he believes,perfectly illustrate the printer’s capacity to reproduce even the finest details.
For InkTec Europe the collaboration with Jeffrey Kroll comes at an extremely opportune moment.Ben Woodruff, InkTec Europe’s Sales Manager, explains that following the sale of a Jetrix printer to the Banbury-based Senecio, a print company that specialises in fine art reproduction and works closely with artists such as Jeffrey, InkTec will be targeting other companies operating within this sector.
He says: “Although it has been around for 40 years, Senecio first made the move into digital printing around seven years ago, when it used water-based inks in combination with roll-fed printers, but felt that the acquisition of a UV flatbed would enable it to greatly extend the range of useable materials.Accordingly it initially purchased a Jetrix 2513 printer, which has been further complemented by the acquisition of the Jetrix KX3 – the second KX3 to be sold within the UK. ”
Ben goes on to say that in addition to all of the usual fine art papers and canvases, Senecio is now also printing directly on to wood, metal, acrylic and the full spectrum of rigid materials to produce some stunningly unusual effects for novel applications.
He continues: “Senecio reports that the Jetrix range produces output that is so similar to that achieved via giclee printing, as to be virtually indistinguishable. That makes it a real favourite with artists of the stature of Jeffrey Kroll, but also delights clients who are operating within the growing décor sector, where it is used to print onto such things as wall paper, roller blinds, kitchen splash backs and floor tiles, to name but a few!”
Yet there are great possibilities, maybe even the greatest artistic
The InkTec Jetrix series, which includes the 2030FRK, Jetrix KX3, KX5, KX5-R, KX6, KX6-R, KX7 and KX7-R providesfully featured and reliable options for wide-format flat-bed production at competitive prices. The 2030FRK is a high-throughput workhorse with a maximum speed of 55sq m/hr, thus enabling businesses to meet demanding deadlines without compromising on quality, while the KX range offers, in a variety of combinations, white ink and varnish, plus a roll-fed media option if required, all of which will enable sign and display companies to maximise the opportunities offered by lucrative new market sectors.
Each of the printers in the range offers a six-picolitre drop size and the ability to print onto a practically unlimited selection of materials, up to 100mm thick, at photographic quality. They also feature true greyscale printing and an effectivevacuum bed with an auto power adjustment system for stable printing, an automatic self-diagnostic anti-crash system and a two-year manufacturer’s guarantee.
Ben agrees with Jeffrey Kroll’s assertion that the Jetrix machines can help the artistic community fully realise their creative endeavours, but adds that any signmaker who wants to broaden the scope of its market should also consider a Jetrix machine, whether it is seeking a flatbed option for the first time, or upgrading a current machine.
He concludes: “I think they would be astonished and delighted at the versatility it could bring to their businesses and the new frontiers it could help them to discover!”