David Milne & John Hartman: Colour Drypoints

November 26 - December 19, 2020

Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce David Milne and John Hartman: Colour Drypoints. The exhibition will open in the west gallery and online in the viewing room through December 2020.


Throughout his career, John Hartman has been greatly influenced by the paintings of David Milne, particularly his later ‘fantasy’ works with their strong figurative and narrative elements. However, it is Milne’s colour drypoints – a technique he invented – where these two artists intersect. Hartman followed the path that Milne had carved out and ultimately extended and enriched the colour drypoint as a medium. While they never met, it is clear they spoke and understood the same visual language. In 2008, their colour drypoints were the subject of an acclaimed exhibition at the Carleton University Art Gallery, Invention & Revival: The Colour Drypoints of David Milne and John Hartman, curated by Rosemarie Tovell.


David Milne and John Hartman: Colour Drypoints presents early Hartman colour drypoint etchings (1985 – 1991), as well as recent editions published with Master Printer, Gregory Burnet in New York City. Opposite Hartman’s etchings are a rare selection of thirteen of Milne’s colour drypoints, last seen in 1980 at the National Gallery of Canada in the exhibition, Reflections in a Quiet Pool: The Prints of David Milne, also curated by Tovell. One of the highlights in the exhibition are three variations of House at Mt. Riga, 1922, Milne’s first colour drypoint. At this time, Milne did not own a printing press. He used his neighbour's washer ringer to print House At Mount Riga. It was not until 1927 when he received an etching press from his friend and patron, James Clark. Like Milne, Hartman’s first press was small and limited his plate size. Both artists also experimented dramatically within the same edition, allowing for a variety of states with different line colouring and plate tone.


It was these late Milnes that were my starting point when I began to make colour drypoints in the winter of 1985. Like Milne I was combining stories with images of landscape, often using an aerial view. I took subjects I had explored in my recent oil paintings, and adapted them to the drypoints. I began by trying to make the drypoint technique create large areas of colour but soon realized I had to take Milne’s cue, and let the lines have space around them. Like Milne, my prints were small in scale and the editions were often variable.


This first group of colour drypoints set the course of my printmaking; small plates and small editions, a concentration on the image rather than on technical virtuosity, an interplay between the images in my paintings and prints, and a willingness to allow the furrowed drypoint line to carry the print. These were lessons I learned from looking at Milne.