Paul Furneaux RSA is a Scottish printmaker working with innovative approaches to the Japanese woodblock printing process of Mokuhanga.
Paul was born in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, in 1962 and studied Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art (1982-1987). Winning the Monbusho Scholarship in 1996, enabled him to undertake comprehensive research into the art of woodblock printing and he undertook a Masters degree in the subject at Tama Art University, Tokyo (1998-2000). Paul was a recipient of the RSA Salvesen Scholarship and was elected a member of the Academy in 2006.
Essentially Paul is using the same techniques of cutting the wood with knives and gouges, printing onto Japanese handmade paper (washi), and applying the colour to the blocks with the same traditional brushes that have been used since the eighteenth century. It is not the use of various and often arbitrary kinds of ink with which we associate the woodcut in the West, but as used in Japan. In traditional Japanese woodblock printing water colour and gouache are used, taken either from tubes or mixed from pure pigments, which Paul uses with a binder of gum arabic. Once the colour has been applied to the blocks they are printed by hand with a baren, a hand held saucer-sized disc which is wrapped in a bamboo leaf (or a modern equivalent). In Tama Art University the emphasis was not on the purely traditional, but on being motivated to develop a contemporary approach. Perhaps coming from a painter’s background he has been drawn to an approach that is more intuitive and playful.
Washi, the handmade Japanese paper is very strong and, with his experience, Paul has learned the difficult process of stretching dampened prints over wood panels as he has done in the work shown here.
"Tokyo: Nights" was made during a stay in Japan in 2019. Colours, shapes and forms reflect the season and the built up area in which he was living.
"Tokyo: Mornings" (2020) has the same distilled memory for Paul of that very productive time.
The foundation of Paul's work has repeatedly been about looking and experiencing the landscape, seascape, garden or city with its varying vistas and ever changing light conditions. The final manifestation of this work becomes an abstraction and distillation of this contemplation of the landscape, subtly blending the physical reality with the implied.
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