Heretical Diagrams

Heretical Diagrams

A suite of 20 prints by Ian Howard


Alchemia [screenprint] – Uccello [screenprint with bronzing, monoprint and collaged lithograph] – Lux [screenprint with varnish]
[All are 107×76 cm]

In the suite of prints entitled Heretical Diagrams, Ian Howard explores the theme of ideas in opposition: orthodoxy and heresy, magic and reason, order and disorder. The ‘opposition’ is found in both the imagery and the form of the prints. On the one hand the compositions are frontal, symmetrical, diagrammatic and describe clear unequivocal designs which reflect the structure of the altar-piece, the icon and the banner. On the other hand these simple designs often act as ‘containers’ for a complexity of small scale imagery, at times existing within other more tangible containers: glass domes, alchemical vessels, receptacles and recessed areas. These recall not only the shrine, the reliquary, the instruments of experimentation, but also house other self-contained worlds which are in opposition to the larger image.


Fisica [screenprint with lithograph] – Bruno II [etching with lithograph] – Ritratto [etching with lithograph and rubber stamps]
[All are 107×76 cm]

The imagery contains a set of metaphysical symbols and references to the Hermetic, particularly to the work of Giordano Bruno, but also to Fludd and Dee. There are also a number of archetypal symbols: the cross, the chalice and the urn, as well as various quotations from early Renaissance and 20th century art. Exact knowledge of these appropriations is not essential for the viewer as they are intended to form a patina of signs and symbols, some recognised, some half recognised, others not. This layering of meaning is mirrored by the physical layering of the printed separations, the final image revealing traces of those below.

The Heretical Diagrams series is published by Peacock Printmakers, Aberdeen  with support from Duncan of Jordanstone School of Fine Art Research, and the Scottish Arts Council. There are 20 prints in the series, each 107cm x 76cm, in an edition of 10. The series uses the full variety of print media frequently mixed on the same sheet. The images are often sampled from other works, by the artist and by others, to be re-stated through the production process.

The series has been exhibited in the USA at the John David Mooney Foundation,Chicago and at venues in the UK.

There is an accompanying publication of 80 pages and 20 colour plates with essays by Alan Woods, which places the print series in the context of the artist’s other work; Jane Lee, whose comprehensive text unravels the iconography and charts the sources of the imagery in the wider history of ideas; and Arthur Watson, who describes the technical aspects of the work.

Collection: The Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow ( purchased with the assistance of the Scottish Arts Council).

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