Fractured Union is a monotype flag print, one of a series of similar prints based in part on the iconography of flags. I had already made lots of smaller images using a simple cruciform shape which turned into obvious flag prints, but I wanted to move beyond that and certainly wanted to avoid obviously copying the ideas of Jasper Johns. By the time I had finished this one, not much of the flag was left. The basic flag structure has been disrupted by overprinting. To my mind though it is still part of a flag print series.
The title comes I think from the idea of breaking the basic composition, coloured by the news at the time of difficult negotiations over Brexit and a fractious election campaign in the USA.
The print was made by gel printing with acrylic paints on paper and is about 30 cm square. It is unmounted and unframed, although if you wish I can mount it on a cradled wooden panel, with black painted edges ready to hang on your wall.
During lockdown, I have made large series of similar colourful abstract monotype prints. They represent a new direction for my work, one I intend to continue to explore for a good while yet. I would especially like to revisit the concept of the flag print in future work.
What is a gel print?
Monotype prints in general are made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. This surface, sometimes called the matrix, was historically a copper etching plate. In contemporary work other materials are often used, such as acrylic sheet. The image on the matrix is then transferred onto a sheet of paper by pressing the two together. This usually requires a print press. Monotypes can also be created by inking an entire surface and then, using brushes or rags, removing ink to create light areas in a field of opaque colour. This is then pressed together with a sheet of paper to make the print.
The specific process I used for this print was gel printing (or Gelli but this is a trademark). The matrix in this case is a soft synthetic gel. I apply the paint to the gel sheet with rollers or brushes. The area to which the paint is applied can be controlled by masks and stencils. The rolled out paints can also be drawn into or textured in various ways. This process is repeated until I’m happy with the image.
Some of my prints made this way have over 20 separate full or partial layers. The nature of the process allows for both intense bright colours and subtle variations in colour as well as tangible physical texture. This monotype flag print has all these characteristic elements.