Chuck Close in Sydney is an obvious crowd pleaser, and for that reason I debated whether to visit it. His work is so familiar and unswerving, with his images of ‘heads’ – he is not keen on calling them portraits – being the way he has made artwork since the 1960s. What swung it was reading the blurb about it beforehand, revealing that the exhibition showed much of his prints and how they are made. Being a former printmaker, and knowing how many students I teach love Chuck Close, I decided to visit.
What is so enjoyable about the exhibition is the attention to showing the process of making. Actual woodcut blocks, mezzotint and screen print proofs in different stages and lithography colour separations are shown alongside the finished work, adding an informative and interesting layer to understanding the complexity of how Close makes his work.
I also enjoyed seeing how creative he has been as an artist, constantly exploring new ways to make work, using tapestry and computer generated imagery. The tapestries lend themselves of working with his photo realist style, but I didn’t get much from them otherwise. I could see visitors going ‘wow’ at them, but in the end, it is an image recreated via a computer and made by a machine.