FOCUS: Critical Conversations with Art
Border Crossing is a great example of stone lithography, featuring the collaboration between the artist Luis Jiménez, and master printer Ron Adams, founder, owner, and director Hand Graphics Ltd. (1973 - 1987), in Santa Fe, NM. Jiménez drew the image directly on the stone (Bavarian limestone), then Adams processed the matrix and printed the image. The final image resulted from the interactions between master printer and artist.
The process of lithography relies on the simple chemistry of oil vs water: they repel one another. Traditionally, the image is drawn on a stone with oil based materials, such as the specially formulated lithography crayons. Once the stone is processed, the drawn areas will hold ink while the non-image areas will hold water. To print, the stone is sponged with water and rolled up with oil based ink: the ink will stick to the drawn areas while the wet areas will repel the ink.
This print highlights the distinctive marks of a lithography crayon, bearing similarities to a coloured pencil drawing. This print also showcases a masterful use of layering with only four colours (yellow, red, blue, and brown) that combine and overlap to create the appearance of additional colours (orange, green, and black). It is clear to see Jiménez’s affinity for drawing on the stone, a matrix he chose whenever possible (rather than other lithography substrates).
Finally, another distinctive element of this particular print is that it is designated as “Right to Print” (bottom left hand corner: R.T.P.). Typically, the print would be proofed in a number of variations prior to deciding which iteration should be editioned. This means that this print featured the right colour balance and layering sequence and it is the version of the image that Jiménez would have wanted to make multiples of. An edition of 90 was modeled after this print.
-Raluca Iancu, Assistant Professor of Printmaking, Department of Arts and Visual Culture, Iowa State University