The Alan Cristea Gallery is exhibiting a new series of nine mixed-media prints by Frank Stella. Entitled Imaginary Places, it is remarkable both in terms of its inventive aesthetic and the sophisticated print technology employed by its creation.
Stella uses an almost encyclopaedic range of processes, each print involving at least five of the following methods: lithography, etching, engraving, aquatint, screenprinting, mezzo-tint, relief (molded images), collograph, and hot foil stamping.
Each image is defined by a complex fusion of abstract form and colour. Feneralia for example contains ninety-two different colours, which range from the subtle to the fluorescent. This psychedelic spectrum is underpinned by forms which Stella evolved from a computer-generated facsimile of smoke. The resulting swirling imagery is volatile and deceptively random, yet the composition is coherent and tight, (a word Stella uses) and develops with an internal logic and beauty.
The atmosphere of chaos is further suggested by the titles, such as Spectralia and Despairia, which allude to mythical, slightly surreal places invented by the artist. Unlike the rigidity of his early prints, which were usually records of paintings, Stella is now inventing his own technical and aesthetic rules in his search for "the ideal connection in a chaotic situation".