Reflecting London’s International Population • LondonPrintStudio at Berliner Liste

LondonPrintStudio is an artist-run organisation that provides many educational resources in the field of graphic arts. This studio with a long history starting back in 1974 seeks to connect people and communities through the involvement with various visual arts. Over the years, the exciting list of their clients included even the big names such as The Sex Pistols and Lucian Freud. Their most recent projects are featuring the development of creative work for young graphic novelists and illustrators as well as international exchange programs, which is one of the reasons they are interested in collaboration with our Berliner Liste art fair. In our LondonPrintStudio interview, we talked with the studio representatives about their main goals as an art institution along with the plans and expectations when it comes to their participation in 2016 Berliner Liste.

Unlike the majority of art institutions nowadays, London Print Studio is a not-for-profit organization with a long and rich history, dating back to the 70s. Can you tell us something about your mission and main goals?

LondonPrintStudio: LondonPrintStudio supports artists to create innovative new work and present it directly to the public. Our members include artists with international audiences through to recent graduates and our public ranges from the established gallery sector to local community projects. We work with artists from all over the world, including artists whose voices are often not heard.

This September will be the 13th anniversary of our Berliner Liste art fair. Have you heard about our art fair before and have you perhaps participated in some art fairs in Germany or elsewhere in Europe? If so, what were your experiences?

LPS: In recent years we have participated in Christies Multiplied Art Fair in London, and at their request put on a special exhibition featuring artists working in the U.S, South Africa, Tehran and London. Our experience of art fairs has been very positive- it’s good to get out and meet new people. It’s also rewarding to find that art fair audiences like the range of work we are presenting. John Phillips exhibited one of his Vanitas series at London’s Royal Academy Summer exhibition this year where the edition sold out. We’re looking forward to Berliner Liste – it’s our first visit and we really respect Berlin as a centre for contemporary art.

London is, no doubt, one of the major melting pots of various international cultures and arts. Do you have many foreign artists who are the part of London Print Studio? Any native Berliners among them?

LPS: For many years, our studio has been a centre working with artists from all over the world. There have been collaborations with artists from Brazil, Iran, South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Ghana, Mexico, the US, Libya, the Caribbean, and Cuba. It’s good to see that mainstream art audiences are finally picking up on world visual culture. Lutz Becker, an artist and filmmaker from Berlin regularly works with us on projects, and we have also recently worked with German artist Brigitte Zieger. The studio’s membership reflects London’s international population and many of our members are from E.U. We also regularly provide placements for German students on study exchange programmes.

We often hear the term “experimental art” nowadays. Based on your experiences with London Print Studio artists, what actually means experimental today? It is something related to the global tendency of digitalization?

LPS: We believe, as Paul Klee suggested, that the purpose of art is make new things visible, rather than to represent what is already know and visualised. Experimentation is essential to this goal. In a time of extraordinary technological change, affecting all aspects of the production and distribution of images, we think that artists need to experiment and explore these new opportunities. The Vanitas series of prints, by John Phillips, which we are bringing to Berliner Liste are an example of our work in this area. They present a confluence of contradictory tendencies. Superficially resembling and referencing a strand of 17th century Western painting they engage with a key contemporary question. How do artists respond to the trivialisation of image making resulting from new technologies, and yet use these media to create images that are engaging and arresting? London based Japanese artist and paper engineer Chisato Tamabayashi uses traditional Japanese and Western book making techniques to create her lyrical visual narratives.

What are your expectations and plans for our 2016 Berliner Liste? Have you already prepared all the participating artworks?

LPS: Both John and Chisato work are presenting new work at Berliner Liste, and both work with extreme precision, so the pressure is on! There will be a range of work from both artists. In London, our new exhibition of work by leading European illustrator Andrzej Klimowski will just have opened, so we will bring a few pieces from the show to give Berliners a flavour of what’s happening in our gallery. We’re really looking forward to meeting everybody!

Featured image: John Phillips – Vanitas IV (Detail) – Courtesy of LondonPrint Art Gallery