Karl Brake
The Stone Bower

Artist’s Statement

The original story for this project, The Stone Bower, was initially conceived almost ten years ago as a balm, an escape, during a sleepless night. For many years it sat in the back of my mind as a powerful coalescence of my passions, dreams, and anxieties, and seemed to beg for images to fully express its essence. In 2000 I resolved to make it a reality, and put together a grant to create a limited edition artist’s book; to simply create a series of paintings, or a more conventional book seemed to limiting for the metaphors encased in the narrative. A series of sixteen reduction-block color woodcuts and accompanying silkscreen texts were created during 2003, from which ten sets of prints were bound in hand-made books, done in traditional Japanese stab technique. The covers are hand painted, and represent the walking of an emotional/memory path.

In many ways, this project weaves together many of my long-standing creative interests. I have worked for many years as a professional scenic artist and designer, and have explored as well the storytelling qualities of the human figure in my semi-abstract, expressionistic paintings. The conjunction of narrative, symbol, figurative imagery, and the sensual formal qualities of paintings has also been a driving force in my installation works The Cathedral, and The Myth of Andromeda, and I see my new project as an exploration of those issues in a new context. The harmonic fusion of these elements comes about in good part through the use of color; I have long been fascinated by the expressive and spatially inventive use of color, and the unique intensity and sculptural quality of reduction woodblock printing has engendered new color synchronicities and juxtapositions. Finally, the story itself has encouraged me to get more involved with writing once again, hopefully bringing together various facets of my creative life into a coherent whole, and suggesting new avenues of expression for the most personal of my dreams.

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