June 16, 2017

Opposites Attract

        Here are two wood block prints entitled Opposite one and Opposite two.  I don’t know the significance, or what that’s supposed to mean, but presumably the two go together, if not from the cryptic titles then from their paired style, both figures filled with nested lines like mazes.  Weaver Hawkins (UK/Australia 1893-1977) lost the use of his right arm and hand during World War I, and thereafter had to learn how to use his left hand.  He was primarily a painter, and for someone whose arm was apparently never at full strength, cutting wood blocks must have been especially hard
work.  Hawkins specialized, according to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, in “modernist allegories of morality for an age of atomic warfare and global over-population.”  If that gives you any additional insight into these figures, you’re smarter than I am.  Certainly the man looks overwhelmed, but the woman looks quite content, I think.
        At any rate, what I do enjoy about these two pieces is their carving, simultaneously simple and busy.  I especially like the man’s left foot, and the cross-hatching in the woman’s background.  It’s very interesting how the limbs and details of the people’s bodies are both defined and disguised by the patterns of the mazy lines.

[Pictures: Opposite one, woodcut by Weaver Hawkins, 1963;
Opposite two, woodcut by Hawkins, 1963 (Images from the Art Gallery of NSW).]

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