By Mario Causic | Space presents a challenge for me. The vastness of three-dimensional magnitudes beckons multidisciplinary interventions that explore people’s perceptions through the relationship of elements and events. To apply prints into the equation, I installed them as objects for the project Three Rooms and invited viewers to calculate.
Mario Causic, Place (from series Three Rooms), 2007, woodcut on transparencies, overall dimensions 187 x 82 5/8 inches (475.2 x 210 cm), printed by the artist, photograph by Marin and Domagoj Topic.
From relief workings in woodcut and linocut to intaglio endeavors with etching and aquatint, printmaking dominates my practice. I see the discipline as an amalgam of painting, a surface presentation, and sculpture, a three-dimensional art form. While the print is conventionally flat, a relief matrix bears a sculptural format. Relief, as it turns out, also appears on the back of the print, a result that ensues from running the matrix through the press typically under a higher pressure; the yielded print therefore carries a tangible nature. In the traditional understanding and presentation of the print, fixed in frame on a wall, there is no desire to see the back of the work or discuss it. I began practicing printmaking in the late 1990s. Over time, my interest in the idea of the print as an object increased, as did my desire to remove the material and conceptual boundaries between the front of an image and its back. I therefore decided to experiment with multiplicity outside of its usual application, which is to create an edition, in order to redefine the print. I started creating physical connections between multiple images by cutting, binding and gluing them together. Additional interventions entailed perforating, drawing and collaging the prints as well as combining images pulled from separate matrices. Printing on a variety of transparent and translucent materials led to the transformation of prints into objects. The transparency proved crucial to reduce, if not eliminate, the border between the front and back of the print, which, in some projects, completely disappears, and the print becomes a component of an assemblage. These playful explorations of the medium engendered further investigations of space, for the projects’ completion could no longer culminate on gallery walls.
The presented project Three Rooms (2007), exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Osijek in 2007, exemplifies the spatial destinations at which I arrived during my quest to redefine the print. Three Rooms was conceived as an intervention of space through various approaches to perception, resulting in three installations, Dimension, Space and Place. In Dimension, a large-format woodcut image of imaginary mountain range was inserted, acting as an element of exterior environment designed to challenge the understanding of scale and spectrum of reality. The natural landscape the indoor image presented diminished in size, giving the viewer an opportunity to embrace the scenery in its reduced monumentality. However, for Space, I reversed the method by enlarging an image of a small landscape segment. After I created multiples of the woodcut image and printed them on transparencies, I decided to raise the landscape that I brought from outside and center it in the void of the gallery room, thus forcing the viewer to experience the prints from both sides, front and back, while constructing a three-dimensional print assemblage. The gallery walls disappeared in Space. Meanwhile, Place involved an atmospheric motif that one expectedly encounters by looking upwards: clouds. A mandala-like spatial composition of woodcuts featuring an image of clouds hung vertically, perpendicular to a mirroring arrangement of prints on the gallery floor. Both cloud compositions were printed on transparent sheets, causing the upright version’s reflection to project downwards. Within the insular setting of the third room, the viewer could discern clouds by looking at straight ahead or below—but neither above, at the ceiling, nor outside, towards the sky. Conventional notions of horizons and vantage points gone awry.
My obsession with space endures. Subsequent to rendering installations where the indoors emulates the outdoors or the monumental juxtaposes the miniature, my explorations have extended into the virtual world. For instance, I investigate the relations between real and visual spaces along with the capacity of one virtual unit, the pixel, to carry pictorial information that only realizes as a complete image created by the pixel’s multiples (Screen Saver, 2009). I came to realize that every work poses new questions and offers alternative possibilities after traveling into various areas of printmaking and space. These two notions have become tightly interconnected in my practice, and I consider both of them in tandem as I test different methods of production or opportunities for presentation.
Mario Causic, Space (from series Three Rooms), 2007, woodcut on transparencies, 4 panels, each 81 7/8 x 91 inches (207.9 x 231 cm), printed by the artist, photograph by Marin and Domagoj Topic.
Mario Causic, Screen Saver (from series Pixel), 2009, etchings on paper, overall dimensions vary, each print 2 3/4 x 2 3/4 inches (7 x 7 cm), printed by the artist, photograph by Drazen Budimir.
This article Mario Causic: Print and Space as an Enduring Challenge in Three Rooms appears in the print edition of Celebrating Print, Vol.3 No.1, published in April 2017.
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MARIO CAUSIC (b. 1972 in Osijek, Croatia) is a visual artist working in printmaking. He graduated from the Graphic Arts Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (2001). His experimental works, which have been presented in local and international exhibitions, have received a number of awards, including the Croatian Association of Artists Award at the 5th Croatian Prints Triennial (2010), Special Acknowledgement at the 22nd Slavonian Biennial (2009) and the UNICA award at the Croatian One-Minute Film Festival (2007). Public collections that hold Causic’s art include the Museum of the City of Skopje (Macedonia), the Museum of Fine Arts in Osijek (Croatia) and the Di Carta Foundation, Palazzo Fogazzaro in Schio (Italy). Causic works as an associate professor at the Academy of Arts in Osijek.