Petr Herel: Where the Language Stops, 1992

Catalogue title: Artists’ Books and Limited Editions: Graphic Investigation Workshop, Catalogue Raisonne, volume 1
Catalogue Essay Title: ‘Where the Language Stops’
Author: Petr Herel
Date: 1992
Publication details: Canberra, ACT: Canberra School of Art Graphic Investigations Workshop
© all rights reserved by the author.

All earthly existence must ultimately be contained in a book — Stephan Mallarmé

The dream of a book as opus magnus was reborn with the Symbolists late in the last century. Since then artists have dreamed about the book as a tactile metaphor for the intrinsic self.

In 1980, when the first completed Artist’s Book lay in front of us, it was also the beginning of a dream. Our wish was to provide, in the space of an Artist’s Book, a common ground, so the printmakers, the painters, the sculptors and the poets might come together and collaborate, whilst at the same time seeking their own ‘interior voice’.

The far-off inside will never be mapped. Its hesitant existence sometimes shimmers on the virgin sheet of paper and more material pleasures are sighted from the immeasurable heights of our desire to grasp our inner self in a copper plate or a block of wood.

The intention is staging a new battle with the conventions and is ultimately starting to reveal its secrets; the alphabet has to be rewritten… the emerging symbols are silently revealing what the earlier language was unable to do… the letters have new colours and the words are as evasive as music… printing ink, mute until now, speaks. The book unveils its fragile soul.

These books are naturally not a result of any ‘book-making’. They are organic structures arising from different art forms and their ‘bodies’ are as various as the students’ individual talents. Indeed, some of these ‘Artist’s Books’ develop as quite powerful statements, whilst others possess a fragile voice, engaging us in often unknown concepts of visual reading.

Petr Herel, August 1992.

About the author

Petr Herel was born in 1943 in Czechoslovakia. He studied at the Prague College of the Visual Arts and moved to Paris in 1971. He moved to Australia in 1973. In 1979 he became the head lecturer of the Graphic Investigation Workshop (GIW) at the Canberra School of Art. During his years in GIW he collaborated with French typographer Thierry Bouchard as Labyrinth Press. Upon retirement in 1997 (GIW was disbanded at the same time), he moved to Melbourne where he works under the imprint Uncollected Works Press.