Characterized by the use of specialized tools called burins, gravers, or gouges to carve thin, elegant lines, wood engraving developed in the late 18th century to produce more precise detail than earlier techniques. For French artist Matt Roussel, the linear forms created on the surface of linoleum or wood are just as compelling as the prints that can be made from them. In his series of mounted printing blocks, he highlights the curving textures of lilies sprouting from a scarab beetle or leaves emanating from the body of a trotting horse.
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Roussel first sketches directly onto the material and then carefully guides the gouge to produce markings that he likens to brushstrokes. While he often prints black-and-white multiples from the engravings, he began adding acrylic paint to the reliefs and presenting them as original artworks in their own right. Inspired by mythology and ancient motifs, he focuses on connections between culture and nature. “Whether it’s mountains, clouds, plants, and animals, I like to mix all these elements to tell or symbolize stories,” he tells Colossal, describing the painted panels as windows to an imagined realm. “Our world is beautiful, provided you know how to see it from this angle.”
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