Laurent Schkolnyk


Laurent Schkolnyk, a Frenchman, is one of the few artists in the 20th century who mastered the technique of mezzotint, and his eye brings to it a contemporary vision.

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Using three different plates, one for each of the primary colors, he first prints yellow, then magenta and finally blue, causing the colors to mix and become seven or eight different hues and tints, this producing half-tones and shading. His mentor and supporter is Yoso Homaguchi, renowned Japanese mezzotint artist. Schkolnyk draws on the traditions of Magritte, Chagall, Morandi and especially Japanese still life and gives them new meaning. His work is exhibited throughout America, Japan and Europe and he has had more than thirty one-man shows since 1985 in locations ranging from Pittsburgh to San Francisco, Seoul to Paris and Kuala Lumpur to Boston.

The essence of mezzotint is mystery created by delicately graduated color tones rather than lines. It was a technique popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Invented by an artist named Ludwig von Siegen (1609-1676), mezzotint requires that the copper plate be roughened and pitted with an instrument called a rocker, a chisel-like tool with a curved, serrated blade. This creates close clusters of dots, burrs, troughs, and peaks, the areas between which hold a rich supply of ink, producing tonal gradations, or a kind of halftone. Once the entire surface has been “rocked” to create the “ground”, burnishing or smoothing out parts of the pitted surface then creates the image area. When the plate is inked and transferred to paper, the result is a dark, rich velvety picture.

Color mezzotints to imitate paints were first produced by Jacques Christophe Le Bont (1667-1741). This three-step method was often used to reproduce affordable images of the popular classical paintings of the day.


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