Watercolor woodcut transfer on paper
66 1/4 x 41 inches (168.2 x 104.1 cm)
Monica Majoli (b. 1963, Los Angeles, California) lives and works in Los Angeles. Her practice since the 1990s has explored themes of identity, intimacy, and mortality. Carl is one from a series of Majoli’s large-scale Whiteline woodcut watercolor paintings based on images from one of the earliest gay magazines, Blueboy, circa 1976-79, a period she considers “the halcyon years of gay liberation, when homosexuality was understood to be politically charged and under threat, presaging the trauma of the AIDS epidemic.”
Majoli’s Blueboys series is a rumination on illness, loss, and history via images born of liberation, an attempt to locate and document a period when queer political and sexual identities became visible to a larger public. In these works Majoli scales up images culled from Blueboy through a white-line printmaking technique developed in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in the early twentieth century, primarily by women artists who were influenced by traditional Japanese woodcuts. The making of these works is described by the artist as deeply related to their content: they are produced through what is essentially a transfer process wherein the image itself is partially lost, or ghosted, while printed. The white carved line creates an impression of a negative, an image turned inside out. The outcome reveals the interplay between what the artist can control and the mechanics and materials of making, which override her hold on the image.
Catherine Opie, Monica, 1990