August 3, 2012

Christopher Hutsul's Cityscapes

        Here are some block prints I came across that make quite a contrast from Hiroshige's birds.  These are jam-packed with movement, texture, and stuff going on.  The artist, Christopher Hutsul, is better known (I gather) as a cartoonist and a director of TV commercials, and I think you can see both of those sensibilities at work in these linoleum block prints.  (You can find a brief biography of Hutsul here.)  His people particularly have a very cartoonish style with their simplified shapes and exaggerated postures.  But at the same time there's a cinematic quality to the size, detail, and elevated viewpoints of these scenes.
        These are quite large pieces, around 18 x 24 inches, giving Hutsul lots of room to adorn every inch with carving.  Nothing is left plain, and while normally I tend to prefer some areas of solid black and solid white, I like the way all the myriad
textures contribute to the busy feel of these images.  Hutsul uses strong black and white outlines to make sure that each person or object is distinctly visible and the scene doesn't become a mushy jumble despite the lack of space for the eyes to rest.  They're somewhat reminiscent of the work of Red Grooms - except without all that garish color.
        In comparison with the other two I've shown here, King's College Circle is downright peaceful and serene.  Perhaps it's early morning with only a few people out and the emphasis is on the buildings and landscape instead of the action.  I really love the architecture and the wonderful variety of patterns.
                Hutsul's linoleum block prints are quirky, wild, and full of details to discover and enjoy.

[Pictures:  Kensington Market, linocut by Christopher Hutsul;
King's College Circle, University of Toronto, linocut by Hutsul;
Chinatown Cold Snap, linocut by Hutsul.
(All images from The Beguiling.)]

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