Artist Proof Studio often collaborates with emerging and established artists, both local and international, to create and showcase printmaking works. These collaborations contribute to the growth and exposure of printmaking as an art form. The studio provides well-equipped facilities for printmaking, including etching, linocut, and screenprinting. The facilities also include papermaking which takes place at Phumani Archive Paper Mill. This allows artists to explore different printmaking techniques, or a combination and develop their artistic skills. Over the years, APS has gained recognition not only for its educational programs but also for the quality of the art produced by its members. The studio continues to participate in various exhibitions and has received attention on the international art scene.
A notable APS collaboration from 2023 in includes Walter Oltmann, a South African artist known for his intricate wire sculptures and textile works. His art often explores themes of identity, nature, and cultural influences. Oltmann’s creations are characterized by meticulous craftsmanship and a fusion of traditional and contemporary elements.
“In 2023 I took up an invitation from Kim Berman to explore hand-papermaking at the Phumani Paper Mill,” recalls Oltmann. “From my student years, I had a basic recollection of how to make sheets of paper by hand, but with the assistance from Nathi Ndlandla and Dumisani Dlamini at the Paper Mill I became much more aware of the extensive potential of using paper pulp in creating archival images. The works that will be debuted at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair are my first attempts at using paper pulp and were executed over weekly sessions in the last 6 months or so at the Paper Mill. I hope to continue these explorations in the future alongside my wire sculptures and related drawings and prints. In some of the handmade paper works I have included my chosen sculptural medium of wire by embedding it in the paper. These first approaches will certainly be developed further.”
LEFT: Walter Oltmann, Black & Yellow beetle, Paper pulp painting, Acrylic and pastel, 65cm x 48cm, 2023
CENTRE: Walter Oltmann, Bug suit I, Paper pulp painting, Acrylic and pastel – 35cm x 28cm, 2023
RIGHT: Walter Oltmann – Beetle Suit – Paper pulp painting, Acrylic and pastel -60cm x 42.5cm – 2023
Paper pulp painting involves creating an artwork (sometimes very textured) using paper pulp as the primary medium. The process begins by preparing paper pulp by soaking and breaking down recycled handmade paper. Sheets of paper are formed by dipping a mould and deckle into water and draining excess liquid. The coloured paper pulp is then applied to a support surface, such as a board, using squeeze bottles. Artists can experiment with layering different colours and building texture through various application techniques. The completed paper pulp painting is allowed to dry thoroughly, and finishing touches can be added using traditional painting methods if desired, resulting in a visually unique and textured artwork.
Oltmann’s use of wire allows for a delicate and intricate depiction of the insect forms, and the incorporation of human elements adds a layer of symbolism and narrative to the pieces. This series reflects his interest in the intersection of nature, culture, and identity, as well as his fascination with the intricate patterns and structures found in both the insect and human worlds.
“In my recent artworks, I often explore crossings between human, animal and plant life and have drawn particularly on insects and smaller, unconsidered or endangered creatures of the earth. Drawing on the beauty and extraordinary display tactics of such animals, I have engaged with features such as camouflage and brightly coloured warning signals,” says Oltmann. “My locust and moth images were some of the first explorations using stencils, a method that allowed me to control the fluid medium of pulp. Other images are closely related to themes that I am currently exploring in my sculptural wireworks.”
Artist Proof Studio is proud to debut this special body of work at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair, as well as on the APS website.