Our filthy world in clean lines

Matthew Hindley Ruin lust VIII 2016 Drypoint_ HR
SOLID smoke stacks on the sea: Ruin Lust VIII, a drypoint print by Matthew Hindley. Photograph courtesy David Krut Projects.

OH, WHAT A joy it is to see beautifully rendered and magnificently printed drypoints with burr so fierce that it disrupts all sense of complacency! These intaglio prints by Matthew Hindley make you remember what a drypoint is meant to be. The edges are crisp and the tone is furry. The energy of the works in Survey of Risk, an exhibition at David Krut Projects in Rosebank, holds the focus of this show with conviction.

You will discover other things in this exhibition as well, but Hindley’s series of drypoints, collectively called Ruin Lust, headlines everything. Even his painting. And indeed, you may read the name “Matthew Hindley” and think, ‘Oh, he’s a Cape Town-based painter.’ You would not be wrong. But here is an opportunity to see another quiver to Hindley’s bow: a very fine one, indeed.

But we digress: if you’re not a printmaker, drypoint is a particular intaglio technique which does not use acid. The image is scratched onto the metal plate with a sharp and hard tool, called a burin. As the blade of the burin penetrates the metal plate, a lip is left, which, when printed, yields what is known as burr. The burr becomes a comment on the ink that is caught between the groove of the scratch on the plate, and the printmaker’s hand. It’s difficult to attain a uniform print of burr because of the viscosity of the ink, and the fact that a drypoint plate, if subject to too much printing, can become flattened, and the subtleties – and that rich burr – lost.

Dealing with environmental issues and complexity of nuance in a world fraught with pollution, in a similar vein to Robyn Penn’s exhibition in this space in 2016, the work is almost contradictorily beautiful. There are billowing smoke stacks and oily fires represented here, but the horror of the scene is shifted in its interpretation and Hindley’s mark-making and line work steals the moral high ground of the pieces.

There are drypoints printed in coloured ink, hand-coloured drypoints and water-colour monotypes on show in this exhibition. While the monotypes are less focused, they too celebrate the quirks of their medium, and Hindley plays with the lucid water-based colour with abandon, in a way that is only implied in his oil paintings.

There is one oil painting on show. The Dew Makes a Star represents a kind of monster daisy. A mutant hybrid that may be a comment on hormonal experimentation. Either way, it’s a mix of what looks like a long purple sex organ with petals all around it. And Hindley’s environmental message holds sway, but still, still, there are the drypoints, which again snatch and grab at your eye, even while you look at the other works.

You might plunge yourself heart and soul into these drypoints and think of Van Gogh’s cypresses in pen and ink drawings. The crispness and distinctness of each little mark which contributes to the energy in the entire work is mesmerising and wise, beautiful and direct and gives a sense of rightness to the complex and often unforgiving technique of drypoint.