August 20, 2013

Linocuts by Voyiya

        South African artist Vuyile Voyiya (b. 1961) has a very distinctive style of linoleum block printing.  His images are almost all people, usually on plain black backgrounds, and depicted with patterns of dots or short strokes.  The density of the dots defines the highlights on the people's bodies, leaving dark shadows.  Voyiya trained as a sculptor and his interest in and knowledge of the human body and its three-dimensionality come across clearly in these linocuts.
        Many of Voyiya's people seem to be modern dancers with intricate physical
interactions and beautifully modelled muscles.  But despite the appearance of dancing, the titles of some of his works (especially those from the 1980s) reveal his concern with race relations in his native South Africa.  Others are more formal or academic explorations of figures in space.  (No, I'm not talking about sci fi.)
        I admire Voyiya's ability to show foreshortening and all sorts of other complex motions of the human body.  I admire his ability to control shading.  I admire the blackness of his black, something I always have trouble with using water based ink and hand pressing!  I also find it interesting that he finds so much interest in what seems to me such a narrow range of
subject matter.  I'm always fascinated by what grabs other people.

[Pictures: Blissful Swing III, linoleum block print by Vuyile Voyiya, 2007 (Image from The Cape Gallery);
Black & Blue II, linoleum block print by Voyiya, 2005;
Floating Freely, linoleum block print by Voyiya, 2007 (Images from The AVA Gallery).]

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