Printing mistakes

Throughout his career Polke has used newspapers as a source of inspiration in his work. They have provided subject matter for paintings and drawings, and have also inspired a technique of imitating the ‘dotted’, half-tone process of commercial printing. In the mid-1990s Polke began to work on a new series called Druckfehler, or ‘Printing Mistakes’, inspired by printing errors found in newspapers. Fascinated by the relationship between the random mistake and the original image, Polke would enlarge and manipulate the distorted newsprint. He then paints the image onto a polyester surface with the aid of a projector, and coats it in layers of resin. Buried within this elaborate surface are sheets of gold mesh, creating yet another filter through which the image must be read.

In Salamander Stone (1997) the original printing mistake has been magnified to the point of complete abstraction, and floats on a grid of giant dots. The original meaning or function of this shape has been completely lost, highlighting how easily misperceptions can occur. This series explores the fragile nature of perception and the inherent problems of trying to convey fixed meanings. As the title of Different from Case to Case (1998) suggests, all words and images are subject to personal interpretation and visual information is often unreliable.