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.
In the top left corner of From the Light Came Loving is what appears to be an unfocussed photographic image enlarged beyond recognition. Splodges of black and violet spread across an abstracted multicoloured background. The same image is reproduced with the colours reversed in the bottom right corner.
In the centre of the print a photograph of a dried, cracked area of ground is rendered in green and dusty purple, colours which suggest growth and decay. The photograph depicts a large gap opening between rounded stones. The picture, which breaks up at the edges, is overlaid with a series of heavy vertical lines in black and brown. These lines provide a geometric structure. Superimposed on top of these layers are expressive line drawings, also in black and brown. A large serpentine form links the two images in the top left and bottom right. Roughly sketched forms resembling flowers or trailing stars appear repeatedly.
The print as a whole suggests an attempt to depict a frenetic burst of creative energy. Apparently intuitive mark-making is overlaid on a formal structure. Speaking about another body of work, Meyer commented that his intention was to produce ‘a continuing systemic and concurrent process of destruction and reconstruction’ (Meyer, Screenprints Documentations Photography). The source photographs and overlaid drawings in this work suggest that the tension between creation and destruction also informed the Gapscape series.
Bill Meyer: Gapscape, exhibition catalogue, Geelong Art Gallery, Victoria; Holdsworth Galleries, Sydney, and touring, 1982, reproduced p.17 in colour.
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.