alex binnie – woodcuts/skincuts

solo exhibition | woodcut portraits
from friday, 30th apr 2010sunday, 30th may 2010

woodcut portraits

The exhibition consists of 18 portraits of heavily tattooed men and women captured in the medium of wood cut prints. Binnie is a world-renowned tattoo artist who’s cutting edge and bespoke designs are much sought after. With these portraits’ Binnie has used the recipients of his tattoos as his subjects.

Binnies prints show a refreshing re appraisal of woodblock printing. References to historical woodblock traditions like Ukiyo-e, Ars moriendi and artists such as Albrect Durer and M.C Escher are present. However Binnies enthusiastic embrace of tessellation and pixilation and the subject matter the makes them feel so current. Binnies prints show that to be contemporary does not necessarily require servitude to the latest technology.

Binnie is interested in the ideas of E.F Schumacher a pioneering environmentalist and humane economist who’s book `Small is Beautiful` encourages the philosophy of  ‘enoughness’ based on human needs and sustainable simple living, Binnies prints embody this ideal, though the images are sometimes complex, extravagant and overtly ornamental there is an honesty and integrity that accompanies the medium of woodcut prints. These images present a triumph of simplicity over industry.

With each stylised portrait Binnie is able to capture not just the physical appearance but also the essence of the subject. Each print eloquently captures the personality of the sitter; there is a degree of empathy and affection that is only attainable when the artist and the subject know each other well. When Binnie tattoos his clients each session may last for several hours and be may be repeated over several weeks or months or even years.

There are many similarities between the processes of woodcut carving and tattooing in both mediums there is no room for error and once the wood/skin has been penetrated there is no return. The relationship between the artists eyes and the hands are key, both processes require extreme concentration and manual dexterity. A tattoo artist and a wood cut printer must work with care and precision it is only those who can combine great self-confidence with great skill that flourish and innovate in either medium.

Alex Binnie lives and works in Brighton and London.