Born in Mexico City, Alexis Nutini runs Dos Tres Press, a printshop in south Philadelphia where he maintains a print publishing business and develops collaborative print-based projects. He focuses on rigorous experimentation with relief printmaking techniques through hand-carved, reduction woodblock printing and the digital technology of platemaking with Computer Numerical Control (CNC) routing.
How did you get into art?
Growing up I was exposed and taught to appreciate many forms of visual arts. My parent’s occupation drove a focus on Pre-Culumbian art, Mexican craft traditions and public murals. Another significant influence was visiting the studio of Desiderio Xochitiotzin. He was a muralist and friend of the family. I have lasting memories of the drawings, paintings and image making implements neatly organized in that studio. The arts were all around me but I didn’t identify as a creator until years later when I was introduced to woodblock printing in college. I haven’t stopped printing since the day I first carved and inked a woodcut.
How would you describe your style? What makes your work special?
Most of my work consists of layers upon layers of glossy ink, vivid colors, textures and geometric shapes. I employ the graphic force of the woodcut to investigate how these components interact. Even though a lot of printing is repetition and reproduction I prefer to never replicate the same composition or color scheme. My monoprints, one-of-a-kind impressions, are all about experimentation, learning and adjusting until I get an exciting result. Sometimes it takes up to 20 layers of ink to get there. One of the elements that make my prints stand out is the use of found objects such as VHS cassette tape, discarded product tags and found pieces of textured materials. Utilizing these found materials can drastically change the look and meaning of a print.
How do you go about developing your work?
As I am working on a new series I’m usually thinking about the possibilities for next set of prints. A key component of making woodcuts is that the printing systems, blocks and multiples remain. Therefore, projects can cross-pollinate and inform each other. I’ll often pull out a print that I haven’t touched in years to rework it. I also cut up old woodblocks to make smaller impressions or puzzle piece compositions. No print or previous project is safe when I’m in manic production mode. I often hide prints in progress so that I don’t overwork them and so I can rediscover them another day.
Who or what influences you?
The look of minimal computer graphics and the pixelated look of 80's video games often find their way into my work. Printed and woven textiles from around the world are also sources of inspiration. In the realm of art, I often go back to psychedelic Op art and the geometry of Latin American Pop art. The paintings of Bridget Riley and the installation work of Carlos Cruz-Diez are some of my favorites.
Make us curious. What is planned next?
I recently picked from the street a panel composed of dozens of pine fragments. I was able make a clear impression of the woodgrain and the damage it sustained as it made its way to the trash. I’m excited to see how far I can push combining the textures of readymade blocks with my graphic shapes and vivid colors. I love walking around Philadelphia and look forward to finding more unusual objects to print with.
Photos: Gustavo Garcia