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A letter from China

Audrey, Diego, Gina
Audrey Qin from China, Big Fag Press boss Diego Bonetto, and Adelaide comic book artist Gina Chadderton at the Big Fag Press, mid-2016.

During 2016, we had the pleasure of welcoming Audrey Qin from China to work with us on the project of cataloguing and archiving John Demos’ huge body of work. Audrey was an exchange student at Sydney College of the Arts, and we loved working with her. Upon her return to China, Audrey sent us a letter about her experiences with Big Fag, which we reprint below.

Thanks so much Audrey, please come back and join us again soon!

– the Big Fag Press team.

– – –

Dear Big Fag Press,

Thank you very much for the time we spent together. For me, a short-term exchange student, it was such a blessing to join this passionate big family and get a fantastic insight about some interesting issues in the Australian art scene. With approximately zero pre-experience in the art industry, I joined the team as a volunteer at the end of the June 2016 and left with fruity art world experience.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on the late artist John Demos’ art work almost accidentally, when I enquired about those storage boxes laying out in our ‘warehouse’. From then on, I started to get to know this extremely talented and unique artist — John Demos.

Between June and October of 2016, I devoted myself to take care of the inventory of John’s legacy. It was such a privilege to go through the whole process of making the inventory. My instructor Diego and I decided to take pictures of every valuable item of John’s old art works and belongings and record them using Google spreadsheets. It was like an amazing treasure hunt, when we actually took everything out and examined them in detail. Eye catching images kept popping out with forms I’ve never perceived before. However when things came to which item to keep and which to cast off, no one in the team seemed to feel authority enough to make the call.

Although with a natural sense of art, John was caught up by schizophrenia for most of his life. He creates art work such as repeatedly well organised chalk letters on blackboard, repeated words on giant pieces of paper, colourful or pure black ink strokes on paper, etc. Some of them are already covered by dust yet with a sense of decay which can be John’s personal touch and the idea that he wanted his works to convey at the first place.

In my personal opinion, there are two kinds of artist in the modern world — one is making art only for themselves while another is doing things mainly for the mass public. It’s about the personal drive of making art which is divided into an intrinsic drive and an extrinsic drive. If I put my feet in their shoes, as an intrinsic driven artist, it doesn’t matter if my art work can be appreciated by other people because it is the process of making art what matters to me; however, to be an extrinsic driven artist, presenting the art works is crucial, for audiences are the major group to communicate with. Thus, in John Demos’ case, making art released the nerves and expressed his feelings of the world. Perhaps John never wanted these works we uncovered to be exhibited. But once an artist wants to acknowledge their talent or effort, they need find a way to approach the audience. Extrinsic artists want to make their works ‘popular’ in an exclusive way. It comes back to my personal interest — how to bring traditional culture back to the stage without turning it into a soulless commercial product or compressing it into souvenirs.

I wanted to help out at Big Fag Press in the very beginning because of the bursting passion of art within the group members. The art industry is a tough world to live in. I feel Big Fag Press is somewhere between an art club and a not-for-profit business. During my internship timeframe, I had the privilege to witness its AGM (Annual General Meeting) and I was also allowed to bring two of my friends along. It was a mind-blowing experience for me with an executive board formed by people from all kinds of different job background. The team roles are assigned by the whole group all together. Although most of them in the board have another job, being artists is their common identity and the definition of passion. It is such a blessing to be in part of the amazing team.

Big thanks to Big Fag Press! I will catch up with the work on John’s project after I go back to China. Please keep me posted about your progress as well.

Best regards,
Audrey Qin

audrey qin with john demos art shirt
Audrey Qin with a John Demos art shirt at Big Fag Press

Big Fag Press – 2016 in retrospect

January – Grill’d community award for Big Fag Press.

March – Carbon Laboratory artist group hosts meetings at Big Fag Press in planning for forthcoming exhibition.

March – Black Boots Indonesian Artist/Music collective – residency at Big Fag Press, in association with Ali Crosby from UTS Design, and FrontYard (Marrickville)

April – Big Fag Press key member John Demos dies of lung cancer.

April – Lucas Ihlein speaks in Melbourne on socially engaged art and ethics – VCA, Melbourne University

April – Diego Bonetto – key artist on Food Fight in collaboration with C3West, Liverpool Council. Nominated for FBi SMAC awards 2016

April-May SquatSpace Redfern Waterloo Tour of Beauty – Big Fag Press co-ordinates community bus through City of Sydney scheme, in association with Keg de Souza’s installation at Sydney Biennale.

April-May – Louise Anderson – exhibitor in Future Feminist Archive at Cross Arts Projects, Kings Cross.

May-November – establish John Demos legacy project in collaboration with John’s family members, friends and professional associates.

May – Louise Anderson – secures funding for Big Fag Press accessible artists’ residency project through Australia Council for the Arts

May – Kenzie Patterson – prints at Big Fag Press, solo exhibition at Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney.

May – Sydney College of the Arts – student visits from 3 groups (50 visitors)

June-October – Audrey Qin, artist from China, interns at Big Fag Press, works on the John Demos Legacy project.

June – Lucas Ihlein – artist in residence in Guangzhou China for Sydney-Guangzhou Sister Cities Celebration, produces silkscreen print suite in collaboration with Chinese Artists, exhibition in Guangzhou, and at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney.

July – AGM for Big Fag Press

August – Lucas Ihlein participates in roundtable Art, Science, Oceans at Sydney University

August-October – Lucas Ihlein commences project Sugar vs the Reef with farmers in Queensland, funded by Australia Council for the Arts and Australian Research Council.

September – Jubilee Kitchen Garden launches – community garden project in collaboration with PUG Mens Shed, Jubilee Park – supported by grant from City of Sydney Community Gardens Matching Grant Scheme.

Oct-November – Giorgia Severi, artist from Italy, 4 week residency at Big Fag Press, public workshops. Collaborative exhibition with Diego Bonetto at Italian Institute of Culture, and solo exhibition at M Contemporary Art Gallery.

November – Laura Fisher speaks about Diego Bonetto’s work at Global Ecologies – Local Impact conference at Sydney University.

Artist in residence from Italy and a workshop

We are very lucky to have emerging artist Giorgia Severi all the way from Italy in residence at the press for the next three weeks.

Giorgia will be working form the Big Fag Press studio producing works for two exhibitions in Sydney, at MContemporary and the Italian Institute of Culture.
While here we will also offer a collaborative workshop with Giorgia and artist/forager Diego Bonetto, two days learning about medicinal and edible wild plants and producing beautiful monotypes using ink and natural sap. Sat 29 and Sun 30 October.

See here for details and bookings>

Giorgia is not new to Australia, having spent several months here working with remote communities to produce works that were then exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2015.
A special treat for us, come by and say hi or join the workshop and learn about how to produce your very own plant print.
Monotype

Black Boots Collective : punk, politics and prints at the press

Aris Prabawa - Your Politician, biro on paper, 35 x 25 cm

Aris Prabawa – Your Politician, biro on paper, 35 x 25 cm

 

6pm Tuesday March 8th

An art exhibition, print collaboration, workshop and performance with the Black Boots collective on their tour of East Coast Australia. Featuring works by Aris Prabawa, Arya Pandjalu, Mochamad Tamzu, Budi Prakosa and Wahyu Jatmiko.

The Medium and the Message – A review of John Demos exhibition by Chloé Wolifson

The Medium and the Message
A review of Extrapolate: The Art of John Demos, curated by Lucy Brack, at the Big Fag Press, 30 August – 10 September 2015
By Chloé Wolifson

Considered and repetitive mark-making is central to the work of John Demos. Over a 30 year practice employing a variety of media, from the more traditional etching, ceramics, collage and paint to the less conventional but widely available chalk on chalkboard and marker on whiteboard, Demos has created landscapes of the mind, inviting the viewer into his conceptual processes.

Individually Demos’ works are often immersive and can sometimes even feel claustrophobic, however the exhibition Extrapolate: The Art of John Demos at Big Fag Press allowed for breathing room around each work which balanced this effect. The surfaces of most works were covered in the artist’s signature repeated text, including chairs and tables as well as two-dimensional works hung on the walls. The work Whiteboard, Table and Chair, Ensemblage, 1980s consisted of an installation of the aforementioned whiteboard, table and chair, each covered in text – the artist himself conspicuous by his absence in the setting.

The line between practice and final work was regularly blurred, as the temporary nature of chalkboard and whiteboard text abounded, and visitors and Big Fag staff moved about the space which is after all a working studio as well as exhibition space. This provided an atmosphere of warmth to the exhibition.

There is a sense of the personal and subjective in Demos’ arrangement of words which, taken individually and out of context would be devoid of such meaning. The layering of words becomes a mind map, as words such as ‘genius’, ‘ingenious,’ ‘intelligence’ and ‘mentoring’ meld with ‘physics’, ‘quantum leap,’ ‘processing’ and ‘etching’. Just as our internal trains of thought are bound to move synapse-like from one idea to another, connected by tenuous threads which hold their own internal logic, the overall visual effect of these works is of a topography. These vast changing landscapes of text and fields of marks brought to mind those schools of Indigenous Australian painting which depict aerial-like views of the earth. The gradual progression of words also evokes the formation and evolution of habits across time – an internal, psychological typography of its own.

The inclusion of an audio descriptor of the works added an enjoyable layer to the experience of viewing the exhibition. Hearing a male and female voice reciting the words in Demos’ works, distinct, overlapping and sometimes onomatopoeic as they appear on the various surfaces of the works, became a performative element beyond its descriptive qualities.
The development of Demos’ art practice was in evidence across the works in the exhibition, which were dated from the early 1980s up to the present day. However one did not need to look at a catalogue list to understand this history. It was visible in the works themselves, in the conceptual relationships within and between them. And in the 2015 work The Beginning, deliberate yet playfully colourful text marked on a chalkboard signified a freshness and dynamism in Demos’ current practice – signifying that perhaps the best is yet to come.

Print Culture at Delmar Gallery, this Saturday

Samuel Savage, "Kab Le" (dancing men), 2014

Samuel Savage, “Kab Le” (dancing men), 2014, (detail), vinylcut on paper, 74.5 x 121cm

Big Fag Press is participating in an exhibition at Delmar Gallery in Nov-Dec 2015, curated by Catherine Benz.

The show, entitled PRINT CULTURE, brings together DIY printmaking collectives from Indonesia and Australia: KRACK! (Yogyakarta), Umi Arts (Cairns), Frog House (Yogyakarta) and Big Fag Press (Sydney).

As always, we’re very pleased to be able to connect with other community-engaged groups who work progressively with print culture.

Bagus "Gonk" Prabowo, "Mangir" 2015, batik on canvas, 80 x 300cm

Bagus “Gonk” Prabowo, “Mangir” 2015, batik on canvas, 80 x 300cm

The details:

Opening: Sat 21 Nov, 3-5pm
Exhibition: 22 Nov – 6 Dec
Opening Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 12pm to 5pm
144 Victoria Street Ashfield (Sydney) NSW 2131
p. + 61 2 9581 6070

Big Fag Press Christmas Sale

big fag christmas sale

Until December 25, we are offering 10% off all the prints in our online store – just use the discount code “bigfagxmas” when you check out.

To celebrate the end of our 11th year, Big Fag Press has mounted a new exhibition at our workshop, presenting some of our favourite prints from the archives as well as brand new works.

Come check out a small selection of limited edition lithographs that we’ve printed over the past decade.

(And if you come collect your booty from our workshop, you can save on the shipping too – just choose “*PICKUP FROM BIGFAG PRESS* in the “Country” dropdown box in our online store, and we’ll waive the shipping cost.)

Come say hi, there’s tea brewing!

Big Fag xMas SALE!

Pat Grant, Nerd with Table, 2013. Two colours printed on 200gsm boxboard. Offset lithographic print, limited edition of 29. 20x30cm.

Pat Grant, Nerd with Table, 2013. Two colours printed on 200gsm boxboard. Offset lithographic print, limited edition of 29. 20x30cm.

Indeed, is coming up to the silly season, and if you’d like to get something special to one of your loved ones (so special, is limited edition!) come to check out our exhibition of prints.

We’re opening the door from this coming Thursday offering a selection of special prints at discounted prices AND with free postage AND special packaging.

 

Come to have a look or follow the sale online via this facebook event>>
https://www.facebook.com/events/1065959286768059/

Yay!
Open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 to 4, all the way to xMAs!>>

 

How amazing!

Elastics / Borrocha / Elástico (2012 Timor-Leste Mobile Residency Archive).

Elastics / Borrocha / Elástico (2012 Timor-Leste Mobile Residency Archive).

It is with great pride that we’d like to congratulate Fiona MacDonald, Narelle Jubelin, Maria Madeira and Victor De Sousa for winning the Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award with their collaborative work Elastics / Borrocha / Elástico (2012 Timor-Leste Mobile Residency Archive).

This is the second time in 4 years that a print produced on the Big FAG wins the most prestigious recognition of excellence in the medium of prints, last time being the collaborative work by artists Lucas Ihlein and Ian Milliss.

Big FAG supported the production of Elastic with inkind administration, prepress, design and some of the printing. It is a great honour to have worked on such an amazing work comprising of ten plates of 2-3 colours and a folder.

The finalist exhibition is on until 15 November, 2015 at the Freemantle Arts Centre.

Read more about the work on Art Almanac and the West Australian.

 

Gilbert Grace – Deep Green and Bright Blue

A new exhibition is now on at the Big Fag Press gallery.

Deep Green and Bright Blue
12-26 September 2015
Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-4pm
Or by appointment, call Gilbert on 0434 910 422

Closing drinks at the Big Fag Press gallery

3pm Saturday 26 September

 

Deep Green and Bright Blue

The exhibition will evolve with the incorporation of works in progress, please come to the closing drinks for the viewing of the final show. Oils, works on paper, experimental prints and curated bicycle tours. Details here.

Detailed exhibition information – including images of the paintings on display is linked here.

Continue reading…



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