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Matrix Offsite Exhibition
Perspectives from the Malaspina Archive (1979-1982)
July 11-September 18, 2016
Bob Prittie Library

This Burnaby Art Gallery Offsite Exhibition presents a selection of prints from the City of Burnaby Permanent Art Collection’s Malaspina Printshop Archives, a compendium of all works created at the print shop between 1977 and 1982. The archive was gifted to the gallery by Milton and Fei Wong in 1988.

In printmaking, the matrix is the surface upon which the artist creates a print design. The matrix—be it a metal plate, a wood or linoleum block or a lithographic stone—is inked to make an impression on a sheet of paper by pressing it by hand or through a printing press. As the foundation for the art form itself, the matrix is thus the basis for the experimental printmaking taking place at Malaspina in the 1970s and 80s. The term “matrix” comes from the Latin mātrīx, meaning “uterus” or “womb,” and is derived from māter, meaning “mother,” making the matrilineage of the word clear.

This exhibition brings together the art of female printmakers working at the Malaspina Printmakers Society between what were the turbulent years of 1979 and 1982. Further looking, analysis and questioning of these works of art in relation to the larger art historical, social and political concepts of the time ultimately make the gender of the artists irrelevant.  

Working within the tradition of concrete and minimalist artists before them—but employing innovative new printmaking techniques made possible by the creative flexibility of the matrix—the printmakers in this exhibition reject the static universe envisioned by the single, fixed, all-seeing eye of one-point perspective, invented during the Renaissance. In its place, they embrace a more experiential approach that actively engages viewers. Each printmaker creates movement in her work through optical illusion and the use of light over a monochrome surface, thereby shifting the viewers’ sensory and perceptual points of view and bringing them inside the world of the artwork.

Find out more about the history of Malaspina Printmakers Society and read an essay by Gillian Armitage in our tumblr blog.

Image credit: Salme Kaljur, Marina, intaglio, 1982, from the Malaspina Printshop Archives of the City of Burnaby Permanent Collection, gift of Milton and Fei Wong.