April 19, 2017

Block Printmaker Mbatha

        Azaria Mbatha (South Africa, 1941-) is considered a major figure in the development of modern South African printmaking, although he’s lived most of his adult life in Sweden.  His large linoleum block prints typically are narrative scenes, most frequently with Biblical themes, which he tries to depict in uniquely African ways.  His compositions often include a series of panels, like a page from a graphic novel.  They’re always busy, full of patterns, action, and rhythm.  I love the swooping lines of this first one, in which the crowds of people form the very hills.  There’s an interesting use of black and white in the face and hands of the speaker, and I like the contrast of the tree and plants adding a little organic relief to all that repetition.
        Here also is one of Mbatha’s pieces with separate panels, in this case, three tiers of action scrolling through various Old Testament stories.  His people are not distinctive; they’re clearly more symbolic than individualistic.  Their faces are mask-like.  I love how the entire background is full of leaves so that no space is left blank.
        And here’s also a simpler piece, entitled “No Room at the Inn.”  I like the upraised hands blocking each of the doorways in the background, and the row of black-doored houses framing the picture across the bottom, echoing the shapes of the more abstract border across the top.  I like how Mary actually looks really pregnant, and I like the chicken waiting in the barn behind.

        Here is the collection of M printmakers I’ve featured here before:

[Pictures: The Sermon on the Mount, or, The Speech, linoleum block print by Azaria Mbatha (Image from Mutual Art);
Scenes from the Old Testament, or Nebuchadnessear, lino block print by Mbatha (Image from Mutual Art);
No Room at the Inn, lino block print by Mbatha (Image from Artway).]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter M


Kristin said...

I like these. The No room at the inn would make a good Christmas card.

Finding Eliza

Mail Adventures said...

How many wonderful artists! Did you leave the challenge? :/
Eva - Mail Adventures

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

No, I'm still going. But I'm working on my own schedule because I'm just being troublesome. I'm posting only 3 a week, so I started early, but now the rest of you have caught up with me and I'm falling behind! I won't finish until the middle of May. I still plan to link to each letter, but I'll just be doing it later and later. You can always check back to see what I'm up to.

FinnBadger said...

Those are fantastic - thanks for sharing them.

Phillip | Q is for Quidditch