View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Gapscape is a portfolio consisting of thirteen prints, produced by the artist in an edition of sixty. Tate owns the artist’s proofs of five of the prints from the suite. Meyer lived in New York and London for seven years during the 1970s. Gapscape was made on his return to his native Melbourne, Australia in 1979.
The prints incorporate montages of photographs, the colour and focus of which the artist manipulated during the printing process. The photographs, taken in the United States and Israel in the late 1970s, depict large gaps between rocks and paving stones. In the Gapscape prints, the photographic images are overlaid with expressive abstract line drawings. Meyer made the drawings by hand in charcoal on acetate and then transferred them on to the screenprints. There is a tension in the prints between the mechanically reproduced image and the mark-making of drawing superimposed afterwards.
In the prints Meyer uses fissures in the surface of the earth to convey his experience of interstices in the creative process. He has written, ‘Gapscape is built on the exploration of the void which falls between the conception and the creation, between the emotion and the response. The Gap is the crack in the void’ (quoted in Eden, p.6). Meyer’s gaps, like the slashes in the canvases of Lucio Fontana (1899-1968), suggest points of entry into another realm.
Bore Puri Ha-Adamah consists of two sections. The top part of the image is a black and white photograph of dry barren ground with scattered leaves and pine needles collecting in a gap in the ground. The gap stretches across the middle of the photograph. Dead leaves and small stones are caught in the detritus. A few lines drawn by the artist echo the natural curve of the needles, extending this motif beyond the bounds of the photograph into the area below.
The lower part of the image is an off-white rectangle, larger than the photograph, which is overlaid with the artist’s expressive drawing. A series of heavily worked lines have the urgency and violence of scratches. On the right side of the image these marks are particularly heavy. In the bottom left corner a more lyrical passage of repeated symbols recalls the delicate drawings of Cy Twombly (born 1928). The hand drawn sections of the print suggest the unconscious mark-making of doodles or graffiti. The drawing is black with an orange-red shadow, a result of slight misregistration in the printing process. This gives the print a sense of depth, as the lines appear to sit above the surface of the paper.
Bore Puri Ha-Adamah is a Hebrew blessing said over vegetables, particularly during the Seder meal as part of the Passover celebration. It is a prayer of thanks, literally meaning ‘Who has created fruits of the earth’. During the period when Meyer made these prints he was rediscovering and exploring his Jewish heritage. The title of this work reflects the artist’s developing interest in his own religious culture and his fascination with what is revealed beneath the surface of the earth.
Bill Meyer: Gapscape, exhibition catalogue, Geelong Art Gallery, Victoria; Holdsworth Galleries, Sydney, and touring, 1982.
Eva Eden, ‘Bill Meyer Survey Exhibition’, Imprint, vol.34, no.1, Autumn 1999, pp.6-7.
Jaynie Anderson and Bill Meyer, Bill Meyer: Screenprints Documentations Photography, exhibition leaflet, University of Exeter, 1973.