Our work of the week is Opus 5 (aka The Constellations) by Naum Gabo. This piece is currently on show as part of a three day art event at a transformed former bakery on Akeman Street entitled Variations on a Weekend Theme. The artist Emma Smith has selected a number of works from the Kettle’s Yard collection to go on show as part of her ‘art apothecary’, where she’ll be giving advice for relaxation collected from local residents and inspired by 17th century astrologers Forman and Napier.
As the inscription (“To Jim Ede from Gabo with love 27 March 1952”) suggests, this print was presented by Gabo to Jim Ede as a gift. They had first met in Paris in the early 1920s. Gabo began to make monoprints in 1950, continuing until 1973. Gabo was always resistant to the idea of the traditional ‘editioned print’, instead choosing to make a significant body of unique woodcuts over an extended period of time. A monoprint differs from an editioned print in that, although the block is the same, changes in inking, colouring and orientation make each impression unique. Best known for his three dimensional constructions, there are some obvious affinities between Gabo’s prints and sculptures. In both, weightless forms appear to float in space. Here the translucent Japanese paper creates visual effects akin to those of the Perspex often used by the artist for his sculptures.