Mirror Error

On the unconventional art of Ryuta Suzuki, who challenges perceptions of printmaking in his eerie yet dynamic body of work.

As a Japanese-trained contemporary print artist, Suzuki ‘s conceptualization of print emanated instead from the specific relationship of the terms hanga (print), parsed literally as 'impression (han) and ‘picture’ (ga), in contradistinction to hangi (woodblock), or the impression (han) that appears on the wood (gi). Like broader notions of the print,the block is relegated to vehicle, an interface for the artist’s rendering of the image. In this interpretation, it is the paper print, of course, that constitutes the work of art — ‘the original’.

Yet Suzuki harboured, a nagging feeling that discarding the block after printing was wasteful. This practice moreover excised the original three-dimensional block, gi when the picture, ga, was only a copy of its surface. He began with the premise that the print and the block should be fairly treated as independent works. In another twist, he proposed that the dynamism of printmaking lies in the appreciation of block and print reunited in the final product. But Suzuki does not stop at printmaking. He cuts away both the borders of the block and the paper exposing the parameters that the block imposes on the print. He then mounts both pieces on crisscrossed wood, almost like scaffolding, that undoes perceptions of two-dimensionality and presents them as sculptural or architectural forms. Suzuki challenges the presumed symmetry of block and print to exploit each as art works. Destabilizing the ‘perfect copy’, he gradually builds distance between block and print enabling the block to liberate itself from its more celebrated companion. In so doing, he extricates the print from the edition too. Rather than multiples, his works become studies within the interior of the print itself - from its printedness back to its block.

-Claire Cuccio 顧嵐