Graphics festival “Printmaking IN” central exhibition “Back in Chaos” 


One of the theories of the origin of the world offers that the world has emerged from chaos. This requires that any movement forward is movement into greater order. We live in a time when the global ecological and political situation does not create a sense of security and the question of whether we are moving towards order or chaos is still up for interpretation. The rhythm of life is determined by the constant ebb and flow of order and chaos - they are interdependent opposites who are constantly competing with each other. Similarly, the creative process - that results in art - emerges from unknown depths and is the creation of a new order in the midst of chaos.

“Back in Chaos” is the central exhibition of the graphics festival “Printmaking IN”. The roots of the festival go back to 1998 in Pärnu, Estonia. This is the first time it is taking place in Riga, Latvia. The festival is characterised by a democratic attitude, a relaxed atmosphere, voluntary involvement in the process and enjoying art together. The festival includes not only exhibitions, but also performances, collaborative printing in workshops, printing events in the streets - screen-printing or linoleum block printing on the T-shirts of passers-by, or offering the opportunity to try out the process of graphic printing for yourself.

The American artists participating in this exhibition represent a broad spectrum, from fine detail on the thinnest paper to giant carvings, drastic aesthetics and free mixing of techniques. They work individually or in workshops and tend to sign their work under a single name. The perfectionism and ambition with which the works are executed convey the conviction of the idea behind them. The thread of the content can be a blunt exclamation, everyday life or a critique of current issues. A form that willingly challenges the viewer, but, above all, invites you to think along.

Is order possible without chaos? Perhaps chaos is the only and most important precondition of any order? Welcome back to chaos!

Ieva Nagliņa, exhibition curator

We live in an era when America has been pushed out of European cultural and neo-leftist approaches, and everything evil and disgusting is associated with the US.  Eurasians often forget that the best part of the world's alternative culture has its roots in the United States. Nothing has changed since then. Alternative thinking and civic initiative in the infinite range of the Western hemisphere are creating diverse and never-before-seen communities that our standard European Western thinking has never even dreamed of.

“Back in Chaos” has brought to Riga ambitious and hard-working groups of artists from America, including from places Europeans associate more with oil exploration, war against Indians and reality shows. The amazing Hancock brothers and Morris Abelman from Texas, the “Wicked Engravings” from Missouri. Sean Starwars from Mississippi, “Cannonball Publishers” and Dennis McNett from New York, Tyler Krasowski and Carlos Barberena from Chicago, “Criminal Engravings” from the Midwest and “Burning Bones” from Houston. These are the phenomena that you will find at the “Printmaking IN” Riga. 

PRINTS GONE WILD* - that's what the murals in Williamsburg, New York, screamed last November.  CANNONBALL PRESS PROUDLY PRESENTS - THE NATIONS´ MOST EXOTIC MANAGERIE** - slogans worth their weight in gold for any kind of graphic art. To use such slogans, you need to keep your finger on the pulse of life, understand the big patterns of life, keep abreast of current developments in society and trust your work. Martin Mazorra and Mike Houston - the kings of Big Apple printmaking - do it successfully.

Reality alteration is the secret weapon used by the sheriff's son, Ryan O'Malley. He is a graphic art guru from Corpus Christi, the city named after the remains of Jesus Christ.  Curtis Jones is from Oklahoma, his hand is as sharp as a laser, his visual language as sensitive as a clitoris, without ever losing a shred of social acuity. We can also meet Tom Huck with his “Evil Engravings” from St.Louis, whose outstanding wood engravings have been nauseating the masses since 1995. The scale, virtuosity and level of detail of his works are beyond comprehension. This Missouri-based graphic artist's personality and all-over tattooed body are as compelling as his fantasy world. Sexist campaigns, graphic designs on bikinis, extravagant parties and shameless self-promotion - he is independence incarnate, he doesn't shy away from anything. Fuck authority! Sean Starwars lives near New Orleans, his work is measured by the ton, and he openly interprets family photo albums, an inexhaustible source of inspiration and material for his work. The prism through which the artist looks at them makes you giggle a little, but underneath the superficial form, there is a sense of cruelty as you delve into the depictions of everyday reality. 

These graphic artists from across the ocean are not the fragile creatives you are used to seeing at our latitudes. These big, strong men, covered from head to toe in tattoos, are more like Hell's Angels. The Hancock brothers, half-Japanese, open their exhibitions like real cowboys, firing shotguns and roaring poetry at the top of their voices. These guys work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but you'll never smell their sweat. 

Well, this great bunch is here in Riga, Latvia for the first time - at the “Printmaking IN” festival. LET’S GET WILD!

Anonymous Bohs, exhibition curator

“Printmaking IN” is an annual international festival that originated in Pärnu, Estonia, in 1998. The festival creates a unifying platform for artists from all over the world, from Europe, Scandinavia and America. For the first time, it will also take place in Riga. The events of the festival offer an opportunity to explore the different techniques of printmaking in all their range. It presents and nurtures traditional printmaking techniques (such as linocut, woodcut, silkscreen, etc.), but also demonstrates the interdisciplinary nature of printmaking.

The central event of the festival will be the opening rally on 29 July, when the exhibition “Back in Chaos” with artists from the USA will be joined by the other venues: Riga Art Space intro hall (Anonymous Boh (Al Paldrok), Estonia, solo exhibition “Stardust”), Gallery 427 (Inga Ģibiete’s solo exhibition “Latvia”), Kaņepes Culture Centre (solo exhibition by Toomas Kuusing) and Floating Art Centre “Noass” (exhibition and performances by artists from Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Denmark).

Curators: Ieva Nagliņa, Anonymous Boh (Al Paldrok)

Co-curator: Liena Bondare
Co-curator, graphic designer: Paulis Liepa
Design: Vilnis Putrāms

Organised by the association “Grafikas kamera”, “Non grata”, exhibition hall Riga Art Space of the Association of Culture Institutions of Riga City Council

Supporters: Riga City Council, Riga City Council Department of Education, Culture and Sport, State Culture Capital Foundation, Embassy of the United States of America, printing workshop "Tava siena", SIA "Valmiermuižas alus", "Akmeņlauzis", Folkclub “ALA pagrabs". Information sponsor of the project Latvian Radio 6 - LU Radio NABA.