On the occasion of celebrating lithography inventor Alois Senefelder’s 250th anniversary, the Dou Printstudio Ankara-based workshop has decided to awaken our curiosity with multiple events, meant to bring this technique back in the style of the day. Dou Printstudio, the only lithography independent workshop in Turkey, , will organize the first “Litho Days in Turkey” event series during November 2021, starting with the“Letter to a friend” exhibition on the 5th of November, in Ka Atölye, Ankara: a tribute to Alois Senefelder (1771-1834) with contemporary lithographies printed by the shop and created by 10 artists from Turkey and Norway. “Litho Days in Turkey” events inspired by the homonymous show in Munich (Germany), the city where Alois Senefelder’s grave is located, will shortly follow up the exhibition with panels and artists talks on the 6th, 13th and 20th of of November.
Co-founded in 2020 by Doğu Gündoğdu as the master printer and Naz Önen as the videographer and projects coordinator; the young workshop came to life out of the wish of sharing lithography with those eager to practice. With the intention to collaborate with contemporary artists interested to learn and use this technique, the two founders conceived their studio in a purely collaborative mentoring spirit. Thus, they made their unique technical skills available. Dou Printstudio opened under Doğu Gündogu’s impulse, who inherited this passion from his father, owner of an offset print shop. Doğu experimented with alternative photographic techniques, such as cyanotype and photo-engraving, before becoming absorbed with lithography. Dou Printstudio is both a workshop and exhibition room opened by two enthusiasts. The two took upon themselves the responsibility to transpose step by step the artists’ works on the stones, then from the stones to the paper sheet, wearing at the same time, the master technician hat and the artist hat. “Each workshop has its own character, each master printer has his own techniques. The master printer has great influence on the final print”, relates Naz Önen in an interview given to Artevezi. The practice of art lithography, widely spread in the 19th century and until the 20th century, keeps up to this day the master-printers’ tradition. Major artists have collaborated with lithography master-printers, such as Picasso with the Carnival (1958) artwork, or Ben (Benjamin Vautier) with the Pas de questions sans réponse (1999) series. A medium deeply rooted in print history, perpetuated until the present day and who keeps on gathering printed artworks lovers.
From the greek “lithos” (stone) and “graphein” (to write), the lithographic process involved the use of a chalky stone 10 centimeters thick, as a drawing support. First sanded and washed in water and specific products, its surface then is filled with graphic works drawn in pencil or lithographic ink. The drawings are fixed on the stone with a mix of acids and gum Arabic, which bite the greasy pencil parts and create a relief exploitable for printing. In order for the print to be top quality, stones with fine, perfectly homogeneous pores stay with the workshops for decades, inherited from generations of master-printers. The lithography technique was accidentally invented by Alois Senefelder in the 1790s. German actor and playwright bitter to make his plays known while no printer would publish him, Senefelder decided to publish himself on his own. In the absence of a zinc sheet, an expensive metal at the time, Senefelder found a Bavarian stone and splashed it with acid. Thus, he managed to create discreet relief forms, which he used on the printing press. A first step that would lead, some 20 years later, to lithography such as we know it today.
Addressed to Aloys Senefelder from the depth of centuries, “Letter to a friend” plays with hazards and coincidences. The exhibition title takes on the first novel in which the word “coincidence” appeared for the first time in literature. Yazın Öztürk gave the art directing support to the exhibition’s conceptual framework and led the artist relationships. With an experimental approach on the technique, the 10 invited artists emphasized on the notion of accident during the creative process. The used the stone-drawing and acid-chemistry processes as an inventive play, in which the will to control the final artwork gave its place to empirical outlooks, to attempts and uncontrolled results. In the effort of testing the technique, Doğu și Yazin invited artists who had never used it. “Most of the artists come from very different grounds, like sculpture or installation. Eight out of the 10 we invited had never touched a lithography stone before” (Naz Önen, videographer and projects coordinator at Dou Printstudio). In order to make the collaborative production happen, Doğu Gündogu sustains the artists’ practices and helps them come to a middle-ground. He carefully guides them, explaining the steps and possibilities, translating the artworks from one media to the other. Through teamwork, the two masters discover along with the invited artists new possibilities for colours and compositions. “The best way to learn is by exchanging and collaborating with others. Every new artist is a new challenge for us” (Naz Önen). In Turkey, the official artworld, whose institutions are very influential, doesn’t easily allow access to lithography workshops. Those are accessible only in certain universities or with the permission of certain galleries, under condition. Dou Printstudio ambitions to create an art world where spirits can come together to create and coexist freely.
Supported by The Norwegian Embassy in Turkey for the “Letter to a friend” exhibition to be collaborating with Anne Kari Ødegård as one of the artists. Dou Printstudio is partnered with the Norske Grafikere lithography workshop from Oslo, founded in 1919. For the 6th of November, a panel on “Accessible Art and Collection Culture” will feature key names such as artists, collection managers, gallery directors and printmaking artist from several institutions. Later in November each one of the 10 invited artists will be present for talks and around their collaborative experience on weekends during “Litho Days”.Within this November program we can also count young German artist Olivia Christen’s seminar about her project “Following the Stones”. By the means of collaborative crowdfunding, Olivia travels around Europe from one lithography workshop to the other. She documents the process of creating new artworks. She would be presenting her journey during ”Litho Days”, in addition to a small workshop given to fine art students in Dou Printstudio.
When asked about their future projects, Dou Printstudio lets us know about their organic growth, following the acquisition of a second space which extends their workshop. Their next exhibition aims to promote 25 prints for each of the 10 artists, this time in a gallery context.
An alluring initiative at the beginning of this fall, when only the Black Sea stands between the events and us. Let us follow Alois Senefelder’s stubbornness – when there is no road, we’ll make one.
Featured artists : Ekin Kılıç Ezer, Elif Varol Ergen, Fırat Güner, Naz Önen, Antonio Cosentino, Uzay Çöpü, Engin Esen, Aslı Işıksal, Hüseyin Arıcı, Ozan Bilginer, Ramazan Can, Gökhun Baltacı, Hayri Şengün.
Foto Credit: Dou Printstudio