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.
Stoned, Untimed Gap has two main sections. The bottom half of the print is dominated by a photographic image of a section of gravel-covered ground split by a wide fissure. The crack runs vertically across the image and widens in the middle. Weeds and fallen leaves have collected in the opening. It is difficult to judge the depth of the hole; the dark colour of the soil makes it appear like an open grave. To the right a large stone rests in the gap, almost filling it. Although rough-hewn, the stone approximates the shape of a rectangle.
In the print’s top half, the section of the photograph depicting the stone is reproduced and enlarged. Printed in dusty pink and muddy brown, this image is difficult to discern; the edges of the photograph are degraded, fading to reveal the white of the print’s paper. The section around the image of the stone is heavily overworked with heavy black lines which appear hastily made and give the impression of explosive movement. The lines emanate from the stone and extend over sections of the photograph below. A straight diagonal grey line is printed on top of the pink stone and the black drawing.
The print’s title hints at the impossibility of knowing how long the gap took to produce. It also suggests a drug-induced sense of timelessness in the contemplation of the gap and the rock.
Bill Meyer: Gapscape, exhibition catalogue, Geelong Art Gallery, Victoria; Holdsworth Galleries, Sydney, and touring, 1982, reproduced p.11.
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.