Looking at Art - May

<strong>Dian Darmansjah</strong><br/>born 1973, Biloela, Central Queensland resides Cairns, North Queensland<br/><br/><i>The Memory of Turbulence, East</i> 2004<br/>Mezzotint & drypoint etching, edn 1/4; signed verso<br/>13 x 20cm [upper image]; 11 x 13cm [lower image]; 47 x 36cm [paper]<br/>Charles Darwin University Art Collection – NTU1076<br/>Image © the artist<br/>Gifted by the artist to the Charles Darwin University Art Collection in June 2004.

Dian Darmansjah

Artist and printmaker Dian Darmansjah was educated in Brisbane, obtaining formal qualifications in printmaking (majoring in lithography) at the Queensland University of Technology in 1994. He later became Workshop Manager of the Griffith Print Workshop at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University. 

An internship at the prestigious Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico in 1998-99 proved a defining experience.  Principles of studio discipline, collaborative team work and the importance of rigorous technical experimentation – printmaking tenets of faith – were translated into Darmansjah’s own practice back in Australia, both as a workshop printer and manager, and an artist in his own right. 

In 2000 he arrived in Darwin, working as a printmaking technician and printer for Northern Editions Printmaking Studio at Charles Darwin University. He was appointed Workshop Manager in mid-2003 until he relocated to Cooran, in south-east Queensland, in January 2006. There, he established Firebox Print Studio, also maintaining a parallel practice as a collaborating and editioning printer for Northern Editions Printmaking Studio.

In 2009, he was appointed Workshop Manager of Djumbunji Press in Cairns, collaborating principally with North Queensland artists, providing tuition and printing their work. 

The Memory of Turbulence, East 2004 was inspired by the artist’s frequent visits to Nightcliff beach, close to his former Darwin home in Jingili. He worked with photographs, shooting various tracts of water, rock formations and concrete walls from different directions and perspectives. Back in the studio, the photographs served as an aide-memoire of the thoughts and feelings evoked by the lingering ambience of the place.

In this work, the labour-intensive process of mezzotint is combined with the harder-edged but undulating incisions of drypoint. Each technique served its purpose and has its poetry, conveying the warm, liquid velvet of tepid sea water and the cool, obdurate flintiness of stone.

Works such as The Memory of Turbulence, East 2004 embody what may be described as “aesthetics of juxtaposition”: the synthesis of various printmaking techniques into a unified compositional field of pictorial possibilities and meanings. Technical skill (quality of line, plate tone and texture), choice of support (size/scale and type of paper) and placement of images in relation to the edges, combine here to create conceptual and sensory associations.  Achieving the correct balance between control and accident in the creative process of printmaking – as in all art – is an often undisclosed element of the finished work.  To favour one over the other can lead to meaningless, multiple reproduction or lifeless virtuosity.

Avoiding such pitfalls, Darmansjah’s etching bears its maker’s marks modestly, resulting in a work of quiet beauty.

Darmansjah has exhibited in solo and group shows in Australia, the USA, Chile and Thailand, and is represented in regional, corporate and private collections in Australia and abroad.

Anita Angel
Curator, Charles Darwin University Art Collection
28 April 2009

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