Boodle Hatfield Printmaking Prize with Woolwich Contemporary Fair – Q&A with shortlisted artist Johann Booyens

We are delighted to have been advising and supporting Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair for a number of years. At the 2019 edition of the Fair, the Boodle Hatfield Printmaking Prize was launched, followed by a prize giving evening in late February 2020 at which the shortlisted prints were displayed and the winner announced. At the 2020 edition of Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, members of the Art Law & More team selected their ten shortlisted prints for the 2021 Boodle Hatfield Printmaking Prize. Over recent months we have been getting to know some of our ten shortlisted artists through a series of Q&As. We are continuing our Q&A series with Johann Booyens, who is shortlisted for his print ‘The Logical Categories’.

What is the inspiration behind your shortlisted print?

The work finds its title and meaning in Gregory Bateson’s Steps to an Ecology of Mind. In the chapter: The logical categories of learning and communication, Bateson outlines problems with learning as communicational phenomenon. The logical classifications of systems found in nature, a cloudburst, a forest or seashore, are mostly wrongly communicated as we often fail to see the complexity of these integrated systems. I am acutely aware of my limited understanding, limited vision and deeply rooted dependency on natural as well as social systems. This work addresses the scientific logical classification for something that is meta those classifications. Insofar we aim to outline natural systems to render them communicable, we fail to see the true beauty.

What methods of printing do you use?

I use a variety of methods in my studio including stone litho, intaglio and relief. It is however my monotypes that seem popular. I am not a traditionalist and often use a variety of techniques and methods. Media specificity, or rather, the affordances allowed by technique and media is never deterministic. Rather, I mould the process to the aim rather than work in a mode the medium allows. 

How did you get into printing?

I studied fine arts but moved into computer based design disciplines. Teaching design at a private school, I discovered printmaking and the explorative and serendipitous nature of the medium. I fell in love.

How has the pandemic affected your work – on a practical level and in terms of inspiration?

I moved to the UK a month before lockdown. The transition, coupled with lockdown left me in a very surreal space. I still have not travelled in the UK despite being here more than a year. I have met very few people but have had to examine my practice on a very sensible and pragmatic level. The restrictions have made me more conscious of mining deeper into available resources. Urban landscapes that were accessible suddenly became aesthetic – something I would not consider earlier. New surroundings and no working studio forced me to explore alternative ways of printmaking that have seen my practice expand. I have been very critical of the societal repercussions this pandemic has caused, and wish to underline the sociable nature of human beings, millions of years in the making. The entire season has made me realise the interdepencies, complexities and unpredictability of our world. 

The Logical Categories

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