Gabriella Solti

portfolio of prints, drawings, soundscapes and artist books

Category: Artist Books

The Book of Hours

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Unique artist book, pages are hand-sanded microfinishing film and
hand-coloured frosted mylar,120 pages, unpaginated, hand-bound, 
7″ x 11.5″ closed; book cover is made of steel covered with black 
book-cloth (Photo: Rehab Nazzal)
Bookstand: 12" x 12" clear plexi, laid on handmade, hand-polished
metal columns (self supporting, the weight of the book keeps it steady)

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spread from the book; left page is hand coloured frosted mylar that let the previous page’s image faintly be seen through; right page is hand sanded silicon carbide microfinsihing film, the erasures on the microfinishing film let the underlying page’s red-orange colour shine through

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spread from the book; left page is hand sanded chromium oxide microfinishing film; right page is hand sanded silicon carbide microfinsihing film

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close up of a page, made of hand sanded silicon carbide microfinsihing film that let the underlying page’s light yellow colour shine through the erasures

About the book

The Book of Hours, is a unique 120 page codex that expresses my personal values relating to labour. The pages of the book are hand sanded microfinishing films, chromium oxide or silicon carbide. These are microabrasives used in the high tech industry for polishing optical fibre. They are featherweight and have a deceptive silky surface but the particles attached to a clear film are extremely hard to erase. I attempted to erase the surface of the pages by sanding them with sandpaper or sanding cord until my fingers hurt or were bleeding.

These hand sanded pages are sequenced with hand coloured frosted mylar that I coloured through a long, laborious process to create a uniform colour and shine. The various colours as they can be seen through the erasures of the microfinishing films create a variety of images as the viewer turn the pages and layer them on each other.  The microfinishing film also changes colour depending on the amount of light coming through as the viewer turns the page. The green colour of the chromium oxide page turns completely black when held against light.

The individual pages of the book are expressions of intense, manual labour; they are literally the imprints of my labouring body. The repetitive temporal structure of the codex and layered pages on the other hand speak of the time associated with work and labour. The sensuous silky surface of the pages contrasted with the prickly sensations of the erasures gives a variety of tactile experiences to the viewer throughout the book.

The book has no title page, its cover is made of metal sheets to counterbalance the lightweight pages. The metal sheets are covered with book cloth tape and the book is assembled with meticulous care.

In this work I transform contemporary, high tech industrial materials by both raw and skilled manual labour to express my appreciation to both kind of labour.  I believe they are equally valuable and necessary both in life and in making art.

The title of the book, The Book of Hours, has double meaning. They speak both of the hours of labour I invested in the work but it refers also to the medieval Book of Hours, as devotional book. I believe that labour, both raw and skilled labour, is a form of devotion and born out of discipline.

The bookstand is an integral part of the work. It is made of clear plexiglass and two pieces of rough construction steel  that I hand sanded and hand polished for seven hours to achieve a smooth surface. The bookstand is self supporting, the weight of the book keeps it steady. It is a  sculptural-architectural form, an edifice, that presents the book in a way that meets the viewer’s eye in an ideal angle inviting her to step close and engage with the work.

This book was awarded the MCBA Prize 2015 Juror’s Special Recognition of Merit Award and it will be exhibited at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts from July 17 through August 3, 2015 alongside with the other honoured works. http://mcbaprize.org

The exhibition of this book at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts was generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance.

I have a plan…

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I have a plan  is a 20 page handmade artist’s book, a colouring-in book for grown-ups. Open edition. Digitally printed, hand-sewn with red cloth spine.  Size: 7” x 9” closed. Price: $35

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Wildlife in the Banff National Park

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Wildlife in the Banff National Park, 2013, artist book, 4″ x 4″, digitally printed photographs, hand-bound with handmade silk cover, 24 pages unpaginated, edition of 12, $30

This book is a collection of my digitally printed photographs in a handmade casebound book covered with 100% silk book cloth that I made by hand.

The book is about my encounter with wildlife and was inspired by my experience in the Banff Centre during a six week artist residency in the summer of 2013, my first visit in Banff and the Banff National Park. One would expect to see elk, deer and bear in the book but no matter how close (literally just at arm length) I was to elk and deer many times, they always buried their head into the bush or flower bed they were eating from. None of them ever looked into my camera.

This experience led me to the idea rather to make a photo series over a period of two weeks of the only wildlife I could observe in depth: a moth on my worktable in my studio. I photographed it with my bookmaking tools on the table as well as with the silk butterfly-themed book cloth I made for the cover. Occasionally I also used theatrical lighting using a LED pocket flashlight. It is my humorous take on my big expectations (I guess shared by many) of seeing large games in abundance in the National Park who then remained elusive for observation and I was left to make the best out of an ordinary moth. The luxurious binding also aims to give stature and significance to this ordinary subject.

A Family Story as Told by Peter Bentley

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About the book

A Family Story as told by Peter Bentley is an artist book which combines found photographs with oral storytelling. The accidental finding of the photographs – beautiful medium format Kodachrome slides from around 1960 – was just as exciting for me as uncovering the story of the people whom they depict.  I found the slides in an old plastic bag in September 2005 during my visit to the University Women’s Club of Vancouver, a private club in a splendid Edwardian mansion on Shaughnessy Heights. The bag was on a table among other bits and pieces of old photographic equipments, clearly all useless. When I pulled out the slides one by one from the bag and turned them against light, I witnessed moments of the life of an unknown wealthy family: graceful women in silk, fur and jewelry looking into the camera with dignity in the backdrop of the elegant interiors of their home; luxury cars; a magnificent horse named Duke written by hand in blue ink on the slide’s frame; beautiful happy children, neatly dressed little girls enjoying a mini train ride in Stanley Park.  No one in the club knew who the people on the photographs were only that they were brought over from the neighbouring house where an old lady died and the executor of the estate discarded them. I gave a small donation to the Club and took home thirty beautiful slides.

In the next two years I often admired the beauty of the pictures and became increasingly curious to find out who the family was. Finally in 2007 I conducted extensive research and from newspaper articles and hundreds of Holocaust-era restitution documents I learned intriguing details about the family. They were the Viennese Bloch-Bauer family, wealthy industrialist and well known art collectors who supported Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka among other artists by collecting their work, giving them commissions, or hosting them as guests in their summer palace in Czechoslovakia where they could devote their time for creating art. Klimt was twice commissioned to paint the portraits of Adele Bloch-Bauer, one of them was completed during a summer retreat in Czechoslovakia. Both portraits became iconic works of the artist.

The Bloch-Bauer name is familiar to everyone in Europe who visits museums as their name is often mentioned in books and catalogues in relation to particular artists whose work they collected.  In the US their name became well known only recently when in 2006 many newspapers reported on the heroic and ultimately successful fight of Maria Altman (ne Bloch-Bauer) against the Austrian Government for the return of the family heirloom, the five Klimt paintings in the National Gallery of Austria which were looted from Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer’s home in Vienna during the Nazi occupation.  Among the paintings returned were the famous portraits of Ferdinand’s wife Adele Bloch-Bauer.

Reading the court filings and restitution documents including the ones for the compensation for the family’s sugar refinery business I learned about the timeline of events, names of family members and their relations, the monetary value of their business and artworks which were confiscated by the Nazis but all I learned were figures. My research left me dissatisfied; I was more interested how their life unfolded after such historical events, how they lived their everyday life as I strongly believe that a life lived rests in the details of the everyday. One fact I learned from the documents I read is that with the exception of Maria Altman all family members of the Bloch-Bauer family settled in Vancouver, Canada. Some escaped during the night of the Anschluss and came to Vancouver in 1938 based on the decision of Leopold Bloch-Bauer, the nephew of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, who often visited Canada for hunting trips, and some arrived later. The family anglicized their name to Bentley and established a furniture veneer business which became a major supplier of plywood for the famed Mosquito bombers during World War II. Later they grew their business into one of the largest lumber companies in the world,  Canfor.

I contacted Peter Bentley, son of Leopold Bentley and Chairman of Canfor who was eight year old during the night of the Anschluss and kindly asked him to tell me about the people on the pictures. He generously invited me to his home and I heard stories from the lovely to the peculiar to the horrific, the real story of his family. As it turned out the pictures depict many of his family members and their life in Canada. They were all made around 1960 by his father who was a talented amateur photographer.  The book is the transcript of Mr. Bentley’s oral storytelling and it shows the freshness and immediacy only the speaking voice can convey.

As an artist I communicate experience so my goal was to create a photographic book where the text is rather storytelling than descriptive and the readers can feel that Mr. Bentley talks to them directly, if they were sitting next to him and listening to him just as I did.  For this reason the book opens completely flat, the reader does not need to struggle with the pages and can spend time with the images and stories without any distraction. The book cover is made from plywood, a reference to the means how the family established a prosperous new life in Canada, with a window in the centre of the front cover letting to peak into a slide, the picture of Leopold Bentley who was the decisive force behind the family’s move to Vancouver. The spine of the book as well as the hinges which attach the wood covers to the body of the book is made of 100% silk, a material reference to the elegant life the pictures depict in the book. For the same reason to match the quality of content with the materiality of the book the images are high resolution inkjet prints and the text is hand-printed letterpress. This book is a labour of love, each book is completely hand-made by me including hand-cutting, sanding, vaxing and polishing each wood cover for hours and hours. I made the silk book cloth used in the spine and hinges from scratch and hand-printed the book on a Vandercook proofpress, almost 2000 pages for an edition of 40.

I felt a lot of connection with the story of this family as I am from Budapest, Hungary and the history of Central Europe which deeply affected my own family is part of my personal history. What truly attracted me to this book project after I learned the basic historical facts about the Bloch-Bauer family is the many layers of truth that can spring up from the memory through  personal storytelling and remembering the past. This book is a testimony of the complex intertwining of current experience, personal memory, and world historical events.

 Description

A Family Story
as told by Peter Bentley

A book by Gabriella Solti
Limited edition artist book, 2010-2013
The book was designed, hand-printed and hand-bound by Gabriella Solti and published under her publishing imprint Gold Deer Press.
Images are digitally printed on Epson inkjet printer.
Text is letterpress printed from polymer plates using Bembo, Times New Roman, Garamond and Book Antiqua typefaces.
Paper stock is Ilford Galerie smooth heavyweight matte double sided photo paper.
Front and back cover are made of hand-polished plywood with red silk spine.
The edition is limited to 40 copies and they are signed and numbered by the author.
8.25x 8.25 inches. 40 pages, unpaginated. 24 colour photographs.

Price: $950

Contact: gab.solti@gmail.com

Poems

Poems, limited edition artist book

Text is hand-set in 12-point Bodoni and 14-point Futura.  Soft cover with French flap made of Mi-Tientes paper with digitally printed drawing. Title page is hand-set in 18-point Cloister Old Style and 24-point Futura with the publishing imprint printed from polymer plate. Text printed letterpress on 100% ivory cotton paper.

The edition is limited to 125 copies and they are signed and numbered by the author. Each book is unique: in each book the printed text is sewn into a double page original abstract pastel, graphite and pen drawing by the author on linen paper.  Printed, hand-bound and published by Gabriella Solti under her publishing imprint, Gold Deer Press.

8.25x 5.5 inches. 8 pp. text + drawing. $30.

 

 

 

The Sensory Delights of Text

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The Sensory Delights of Text was designed and hand-printed by Gabriella Solti in the spring of 2009.
Seven signed and numbered copies were produced using a Vandercook proofpress. Essay was written by Gabriella Solti and printed on laser printer on linen paper using Century Schoolbook and Engravers MT typefaces.
Bound in cloth over board in 100% rayon book cloth by Rassmussen Bindery, North Vancouver.
9” x 12”. 28 pages manuscript section unpaginated. 5 pages essay.
Title on jacket is embossed by Gabriella Solti using Caslon typeface on white 310 gsm Elegance Velvet fine art paper.
Price: $350

This book has won third prize in the Alcuin Society’s 28th Annual Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada in the Limited Edition Category. See online catalogue with judges’ comments here.

The Sensory Delights of Text – Artist Statement

We often place a heightened importance on the content of texts, giving a status of superiority to the ideas in them while neglecting their materiality, the physicality of their creation and their pictorial beauty. We celebrate text and language as the primary means of communication, as the depository of knowledge and ideas; but do we honour their cerebral character to the detriment of their sensory qualities?
The Sensory Delights of Text is a selection from my collection of manuscripts of artists and scholars. Each has its own visual attraction, unusual placement on the page, odd rhythm, and often striking peculiarity. Their sequence in the book highlights and strengthens their sensory qualities. In my own personal engagement with these manuscripts, driven by my aesthetic, the materiality and pictorial beauty of texts can be just as exciting as the thoughts they may contain.