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.
The centre of Stasis into Orgasm is dominated by a large amorphous green shape, the uneven-edged section of a tinted photograph depicting cracks in stones. Fissures run through the rock and weeds grow in the larger gaps. The image is degraded at its edges so that in several places it appears to disintegrate, revealing the white of the paper. The photograph’s shape resembles a land mass on a map.
In the top left corner is a photograph of a shop window. Candelabra are visible behind grid-like bars. The geometric structure of the photograph extends to broad vertical blue and white stripes on the wall beneath the window.
Much of the surface of the print is covered with line drawings in green and maroon. In the top right and bottom left corners are drawings which echo the grid shape in the photograph of the shop. The print is a confrontation between these grid shapes, some loose, some precise, and a more chaotic, expressive form of mark-making. It is possible to interpret this dialogue according to the title, with geometry representing stasis and expressiveness representing the release of orgasm. There is evidence in the drawings of attempts to regularise a structure with fixed points including squares, circles and neat dotted lines. However these are overlaid with stormy areas of mark-making: vast scratchy curves and jagged staccato lines.
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.