Nicholas May

Anabatic Print


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Nicholas May born 1962
Part of
Screenprint on paper
Image: 752 × 473 mm
Acquired by purchase and gift from Charles Booth-Clibborn in memory of Joshua Compston 1997


London is a portfolio of eleven prints made by eleven artists based in London. It was commissioned by Charles Booth-Clibborn and published under his imprint, The Paragon Press, London. The images were printed and editioned at Coriander Studio, London. The portfolio was produced in an edition of sixty-five, the first forty of which are portfolio sets and the remainder are the artists' copies. A further fifteen sets were produced for artists and collaborators. Tate's copy is number five in the edition. The title and colophon pages were designed by Phil Baines using his own typeface. The portfolio is contained in a black buckram-covered wooden case bearing the title in yellow. London is the second group portfolio published by The Paragon Press since its inception in 1986. It was conceived as a portable group exhibition containing work by emerging artists of the same generation. There is no particular common theme. Factors linking some of them are studying art at Goldsmiths College, London in the late 80s (where they were taught by Conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin, born 1941), working with Jay Jopling (who later opened White Cube Gallery in London) and being exhibited at the Saatchi and Karsten Schubert Galleries in London. Booth-Clibborn had already collected work by a number of the participating artists, few of whom had done any printmaking before embarking on the project. Most chose to work with screenprinting, with the exception of Langlands and Bell, whose image is embossed. Screenprinting is ideally suited to reproducing appropriated and photographic images. Its adoption reflects a characteristic use by young British artists (the group to which most of the London artists belong) of objects or images appropriated from everyday life. Individual prints vary in size, the type of paper used and the orientation of the image.

May's image, Anabatic Print, is a ten-colour screenprint on 300gsm Somerset Satin paper in portrait orientation and coated with a glossy varnish. The image is derived from a photograph of a section of one of May's Anabatic Paintings. The original painting in acrylic and resin is nearly three metres square. It has never been exhibited as the artist regards it as unsuccessful, apart from this particular segment. 'Anabatic' is a meteorological term referring to the upward motion of air due to convection and is used, for instance, to describe the breeze that blows up valleys when the sun has warmed the ground. May's paintings in the early and mid 1990s involved pouring and blending paint on the canvas itself. He experimented with adding dry pigments, resin and metallic powders to the paint surface to create effects of depth and layering. His Anabatic Print, consisting of dark brown and metallic coppery areas against a royal blue background, conveys a sense of downward flow as well as rising. A dark central form emerges from between two encroaching walls of darkness, which threaten to blend into it and make it disappear.

Further reading:
Contemporary British Art in Print: The Publications of Charles Booth-Clibborn and his Imprint The Paragon Press 1986-95, exhibition catalogue, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh 1995, pp.19 and 46-51, reproduced (colour) p.49
Nicholas May, exhibition catalogue, South London Gallery, London and Cornerhouse, Manchester 1994
Jeremy Cooper, no FuN without U: the art of Factual Nonsense, London 2000, pp.39-41

Elizabeth Manchester
June 2002

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