Center for Contemporary Printmaking
Stephen Hobbs | Landlocked City
January – March, 2016
The large sprawling city of Johannesburg would not exist today were it not for the discovery of gold. 1800 meters above sea level, Johannesburg boasts no natural lakes, rivers or seaside. Hence this industrious city prompts that exciting, edgy feeling of a frontier town coupled with an excessive projection of anxiety and fear. Seeking out beauty therefore is a wonderful challenge.
For the past 20 years Stephen Hobbs’ practice has grappled with the complex productivity of Johannesburg’s ever changing cultural life and tough landscape. From imaginary built environments to world war one Razzle Dazzle camouflage, Hobbs’ experience working in the built environment as an artist and producer of curated events and public artworks is rendered back into his interests in the print workshop. As with blue-prints and master planning in construction, printmaking (for Hobbs) behaves as a planned and iterative medium for thinking about the building of an image, the plate or wood block as construction site and ‘sculptural’ object in its own right.
This collection of prints serves as a mini survey of works produced over the past 4 years, where his travel and research has spread as wide as World War II cannon batteries on the Western Cape Peninsula, to empty billboards and found texts sampled from Joburg’s extensive highway network, to his own building projects.
With the scale of the ‘real’ world in mind, the prints straddle uniformity of composition in terms of line, shape and subject matter, experimentation and accident. This is best exemplified in the 2 hour print demonstration Hobbs conducted at the CCP in September of this year; a distorted box drawn in hard ground with its incongruent lines and asymmetry disrupted and camouflaged by a concentrated array of dry point scratches and surface punctures. This image is shown here as one of two state proofs, unsigned and 'potentially' finished.