by Wendy Christiansen

Most print-artists would agree that to make prints one must submit oneself to an ecstatic struggle with process. That aesthetic and technical process are inextricably intertwined is an inherent part of printmaking. In general, print-artists accept and embrace the translative, not always predictable force of their medium, and engage in exploration with their materials toward an integrated expression of form and content.

Denise Carson Wilde is an excellent example of an artist who is deeply concerned with this discovery through process. This exhibition is comprised of two separate but related bodies of work: one, a series of large monotypes employing painterly surfaces and chine-colle; the second, a hand-made book containing small etchings with chine-colle and a poem - received by Carson Wilde in a dream - entitled YOU'RE A NASTY LOVER.

Carson Wilde's chosen media are intaglio and monotype from metal plates. When questioned about her choice of working materials, she struggled to articulate the particular affinity she feels for her media. She said simply, "I love metal", and went on to describe the satisfaction she experiences in its manipulation. She referred to paper in exactly the same way, and this appreciation of her materials is highly evident in her work.

Carson Wilde uses chine-colle in two different ways, neither of which seem purely decorative. In the monotypes, the lush fragments of Japanese paper describe the human form. The application of the fragments is intriguing because Carson Wilde initially uses them as stencils which block printing of the monotype. She then repositions the pieces, maintaining a relationship to the first placement, and adheres them. In the small etchings contained in the hand-made book, the chine-colle provides an interesting contrast to the printed information. The rich, sensual quality of the adhered fragments suggest the spiritedness of the living.

The poem contained in the hand-made book deals with death and the ambivalence experienced in accepting mortality. Interestingly, it came to Carson Wilde after the little etchings amid monotypes were developed. The book itself has a precious, intimate quality in terms of its scale, the choice of materials, the layout of the text and the choice of type. Its aesthetic quality challenges notions of the book form. YOU'RE A NASTY LOVER is far more than a collection of words on pages.

Throughout the exhibition, the dominating central image is a gyrating skeletal torso which effectively references the tangible and the metaphysical simultaneously. Carson Wilde presents us with a powerful image: poignant flesh yanked about, shown cropped from the head, the psyche. Having nothing to do with reason, the passing of life has a capricious quality.

The work of Denise Carson Wilde evidences a conspiracy of aesthetic exploration of images and materials. Through this conspiracy of aesthetic and technical processes, Carson Wilde reveals an intensely personal vision.

Wendy Christiansen is an artist. This review was written for the 1993 Exhibition Catalogue for Malaspina Printmakers Society in Vancouver, B.C.

read the poem: You're a Nasty Lover