BPEI 2023 offers a glimpse into the world of printmaking 

For those not in the know, printmaking could be mistaken for the creation of dull, grey newspapers, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Printmaking is an artistic process of transferring images from one surface to another, usually on to paper or fabric. While etching, engraving, woodcutting and lithography are some traditional methods of printmaking, the rise of technology has seen the use of foil imaging and textile printing as well as other techniques to create prints.

The ongoing Bengaluru Print Exchange International (BPEI 2023) is a doorway into the fascinating word of printmaking. Now in its third edition, the event showcases the works of 60 printmakers; 34 of these artists are based in India, while the rest are abroad.

One of the works on display at BPEI 2023

One of the works on display at BPEI 2023
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

According to Suresh Kumar, curator of the BPEI project, all the participants have sent in 20 entries of their work, executed on A4 size dimensions.

“BPEI is all about getting recognition for printmaking as an art form and we wanted to popularise the work of the many printmakers working across the world,” says Suresh Kumar, who also teaches Indian art history at NIFT, Bengaluru.

Printmaking differs from photography and collage making by virtue of being completely made by hand, says Suresh. “For this project we allowed participants to choose printmaking methods that suited them best. As a result, we have works fashioned from mezzotint, aquatint and solar plate etching as well as lithographs and more.”

Suresh admits the many methods of printmaking in use around the world came as a revelation to the team as they began to assemble prints for the exhibition. “This project is an exchange program of sorts among the artists themselves to create awareness amongst the community about the different techniques in practice. We restricted the size of prints to an A4 to make transportation convenient from one country to another.”

One of the works on display at BPEI 2023

One of the works on display at BPEI 2023
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

He mentions the works of Juan Sebastian Carnero from Argentina who has fashioned prints using six blocks in linocutting, which is quite unusual. Other participating artists are from far-flung places such as Japan, Iran, Russia and Canada.

Initially called United Vibes,the first edition of the Bengaluru Print Exchange International was held in 2021 and showcased the works of 34 printmakers. “After we renamed it in 2022, we saw a rise in the number of applications from international participants,” says Suresh, adding, “We received around 300 applications which we whittled down to 60. Every year we choose only those artists who have not participated with us before to ensure everyone gets a chance to present their work and introduce themselves on the Indian art scene.”

One of the works on display at BPEI 2023

One of the works on display at BPEI 2023
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Gowthami M, an art student at Bangalore University pursuing her masters in printmaking, heard about BPEI through a friend and followed up on that information via their social media handle. “My application was accepted last August and I began working on prints to show case at the exhibition. Each print takes approximately two days to complete and I work with etching and aqua tint techniques,” says the artist, who has since graduated. Needless to say, she is thrilled about her first exhibition.

“Events like these play a crucial role in promoting printmaking and educating the masses about printmaking,” says Rajan Shripad Fulari, dean of World University of Design, who is also participating in this edition of BPEI with his works created in multicolour intaglio. “It celebrates the diversity found in this contemporary art form,” he adds.

One of the works on display at BPEI 2023

One of the works on display at BPEI 2023
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

According to Suresh, most people are unaware of the artistic value of prints, not just in India, but abroad as well, with most preferring works on canvas. “More people need to know about this art form, considering the work that goes into the creation of each print. Hopefully, shows like the BPEI will address that lack,” he says, crediting the involvement of Alka Chavda, director of Lavaru Art Center, for the impetus this initiative received.

One of the works on display at BPEI 2023

One of the works on display at BPEI 2023
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

While some of the prints will be exchanged among the participating artists, the rest will go into the archives — the organisers hope to use them as teaching tools at art schools and to build awareness among laymen. The next open call for the Bengaluru Print Exchange International will be in June 2024 and updates will be posted on their social media handle, b.p.e.i.

With 60 artists exhibiting 20 prints each, the BPEI promises to be a visual delight as well as an eye opener to the world of printmaking.

Open daily from 10am to 7pm till Jan 15, 2024 Lavaru art center, # 698, Nisarga layout, Bannerghatta Jigani Road. Entry free.

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