michal macku

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Encased

A frame is not the only way to encase an artwork for display. More artists are experimenting with plastic resins or glass to create their pieces. The resin preserves the work, more so than a wooden frame would do. The results are often similar to prehistoric sap with various objects from leaves to bugs, found within them.

If it wasn’t for plastic resin, some of artist Peter Alexander’s works would not even exist, as his piece “Cloud Box” (1966) consisted of “introducing water vapor to the liquid resin during the casting process” which created the cloud within. The artist was actually able to ‘catch’ a cloud, or technically, create a cloud and trap it forever, thanks to the resin.

Another artist who tampers with their resin to create unique pieces is Michal Macku, who in 1989 began working with ‘gellage’, his own invention of combining collage elements and gelatin. Working with gelatin prints, the artist is able to reshape his photographs, “changing their relationships and endowing them with new meanings during the transfer”. He then combines this process with state-of-the-art technology to great his large scale glass gellages, which trap his images in a 3D setting, rather than flat like a photograph.

Roni Horn’s “Well and Truly” (2009-2010) plays with illusion, where the work at first seems like a container holding water, but inspecting the piece reveals the work’s true medium; a solid cylinder of glass. The artist emanates the characteristic of water, its changeability, by allowing air to come into contact with the top of the glass as it sets in its mold, creating a smooth gloss. The artist undermines “all certainty about [the piece’s] solid or liquid nature” changing the physical experience of the viewer.

Changing physical materiality is also present in Kirsten Baskett’s pieces, such as “Autonoma”. Baskett etches delicate images onto fine Japanese kozo paper, later encasing them in clear resin, and the once “fragile paper becomes indestructible and untouchable”. The artist sees her pieces as frozen in time, permanently available to view, but never to experience the true materiality of the object captured within.

-Anna Paluch

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Gellage ,The New Technique of Michal Macku

Since the end of 1989, Michal Macku has used his own creative technique which he has named “Gellage” (the ligature of collage and gelatin).

The technique consists of transfer the exposed and fixed photographic emulsion from its original base on paper. This transparent and plastic gelatin substance makes it possible to reshape and reform the original images, changing their relationships and endowing them with new meanings during the transfer. The finished work gives a compact image with a fine surface structure. Created on photographic quality paper, each Gellage is a highly durable print eminently suited for collecting and exhibiting.

The laborious technology, which often includes the use of more than one negative per image, makes it impossible to produce absolutely identical prints: Each Gellage is an original work of art. The artist does make at least 12 signed and numbered prints of each image.