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Sean Caulfield, "Leaking Shelter," 2012, woodcut on gampi, 84” x 72”.
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Sean Caulfield, "Burning Cloud," 2013, woodcut on gampi, 84” x 72”.
By Maureen Latta
Edmonton printmaker Sean Caulfield is thinking big – he’s working on a massive woodblock installation, tentatively titled The Flood, in part inspired by last year’s disaster in southern Alberta. His goal is to tile together enough blocks to fill a wall at the Art Gallery of Alberta that measures 28 feet by 23 feet. When the piece is finished next year, it will be larger than Albrecht Dürer’s famed The Triumphal Arch, one of the largest woodblocks ever created.
Caulfield, a professor at the University of Alberta, is intrigued by 16th-century German printmakers like Dürer and the way they conveyed anxieties related to the era’s plagues, wars and religious conflicts. His recent work, which includes a series of prints recently exhibited at Porto University in Portugal, explores the charged, unsettled landscape. “They are landscapes in a state of disarray,” he says. “They feel slightly apocalyptic.”
His work is informed by environmental disasters as far away as Japan’s 2011 tsunami – Caulfield’s wife, printmaker Akiko Taniguchi, is from that country – as well as floods and oil spills closer to home.
“I’m also thinking about my personal experience of landscape and trying to consider my own experience in relation to these bigger questions,” says Caulfield, who grew up on an acreage within sight of the oil refineries on Edmonton’s eastern fringes.
Sean Caulfield is represented by Scott Gallery in Edmonton. His work is priced at $600 to $6,000.