The 4th IAPA Biennale Symposium Speech Ⅶ Lukasz Butowiski



On November 13, 2022, the two-day academic seminar of “The Fourth IAPA Printmaking Biennale” was concluded in Kunming. The theme of this seminar is “Tomorrow's Printmaking”, exploring the future development of printmaking in the post-pandemic era. Yin Jinan, a well-known art theorist and professor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts,and Guan Yuda, a professor of Yunnan University, co-hosted this seminar. There will be 17 domestic and international guests made keynote speeches, including Joseph Scheer, Alicia Candiai, Peter Bosteels, Zhang Lian, Song Guangzhi, Kong Guoqiao, Yang Feng, etc. This seminar employed a mix of online and offline methods. Some domestic experts will discuss and speak on the spot, providing a brand-new communication and exhibition platform for Chinese and international artists in a special period. They plan the future development of printmaking by gathering printmaking leaders and elites from around the world. This is a speech by  Lukasz Butowiski, Head of the Printmaking Department, the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk, Poland.




Lukasz: Good evening! I hope you can hear me clearly. I will deliver a short speech.

I would like to thank the International Academic Printmaking Alliance (IAPA) for the invitation. I am honored and pleased to be speaking to you and I look forward to meeting you in person soon.

So my speech will cover virtually all four themes put together. It concerns the method of promoting workshop graphics, in this case lithography, both in a modern and traditional way.

First, however, I should introduce yourself:

My name is Lukasz Butowski and I run a lithography studio at the Gdansk Academy of Fine Arts in northern Poland. I mainly deal with traditional lithography on stone, but also painting and organization of exhibitions. min. I am a co-author of the 1 + 1 exhibition at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. I would also like to present to you some of my works at this point.




Since the Covid 2019 pandemic began, it has been a difficult time for many artists, especially for those addicted to the art workshop, not all have their own studios. Rather, it is a rarity in Poland. Some techniques, such as linocut, woodcut, some metal techniques, such as mezzotint, allow for the development of a printing matrix at home or in a private studio and then "quick" use of a public workshop to proceed with the work. When it comes to lithography, it is not so easy, it is hard to imagine moving in public space with a lithographic stone under your arm. Part of the solution that I decided to implement is the theoretical preparation of students / volunteers in the online form, and the use of reprint paper (autolithography).

For some time now, I have been teaching lithography courses for international students in the form of one online week / one week's home week. I believe that this is a good form of graphic promotion. In addition, anyone can easily make the transfer paper at home and then quickly transfer it to the stone, reducing contacts to the necessary minimum. I also noticed that although autolithography is nothing new, hardly anyone uses this method, hence my idea to promote this process, which additionally has the potential to combine it with digital printing or painting. Of course, this can be used in a traditional way.

Summing up, my method of promoting graphics in this case, lithography, is based on online education, as comprehensively as possible, encouraging course participants to prepare their projects using reprint paper, then transfer them in the studio and print.

I also wanted to share with you the lithographic transfer method:



Transfer lithography (auto-lithography). Some of the works included in the dissertation were made using specially prepared paper. The use of transfer paper is desirable when the size of the work exceeds the available size of the stone, as in the case of my work; it also allows to carry out a number of projects on quickly prepared paper.

The right one must be chosen, without the need for long grinding of the stone in case the design is for some reason unsatisfactory. On the other hand, the greatest advantage of working with transfer paper is the ability to compose the drawing directly, without taking into account the mirror image of the matrix, as is the case with drawing on stone.

There is no ready-made transfer paper available on the Polish market, and importing it is very expensive. It is definitely worth taking the trouble to prepare transfer paper oneself. Here are detailed instructions on how to prepare such paper:

●The perfect transfer paper is smooth, exactly 110 g/m2. Thinner papers can break during preparation, they crease easily and, most importantly, they are more difficult to draw on, while higher grammage paper will not “release” the drawing.

●Such paper should be soaked evenly on both sides, but not necessarily in a tray with water – it is enough to thoroughly wipe it with a wet sponge several times on both sides.

●The damp paper must then be taped to a clean and even surface (this is very important) with a grey adhesive tape and dried.

●Then an emulsion from: 2 parts of gum arabic, 1 part of water and 1/20 part of glycerine (e.g. 5 ml of glycerine per 100 ml of water) must be prepared.

Another way is to mix starch with a little glycerine.

●The next step is to apply the emulsion like one would rub the stone with a sponge while printing, thinly and evenly, with three layers, drying the paper between individual layers.

Thus prepared paper should “rest” for at least 12 hours before it is used for drawing.

It is optimal to make several or even a dozen of such pieces of paper at the same time.

Those few hours of work will allow to obtain several square meters of potential future lithographs. As for the maximum durability of such paper, the manuals put it at about 1 month; I once transferred a drawing half a year after it was made and everything worked out fine. But it is probably preferable not to wait that long to transfer the drawing.

The next step is to make a drawing. The drawing is made using the same materials as on stone, but the inks should be dissolved in turpentine or another solvent; I use IMAGO Wash in addition to turpentine. Some solvents are too “aggressive” and may damage the emulsion, so one should always check that the solvent does not penetrate too deeply into the paper. Water-based inks or inks mixed with water (e.g. Charbonel) can only be used on very small areas or very carefully for fine lines, otherwise the water will dissolve the gum arabic in the emulsion and create a mixture with the ink that is virtually impossible to control. Despite these difficulties, transfer paper allows for introducing some original solutions:

●As the spots of ink dry, one can make in them an additional drawing, just like in soft wax. This creates a kind of negative. Doing it on paper is much more convenient than on stone.

●The paper can be cut, broken, torn, etc., to achieve additional effects.

●Corrections can be made with white tempera. However, if one uses a heavily diluted tempera, the obtained effects may be similar to those obtained when painting with water-based or oil-based paints; the difference is that after being transferred onto the stone, they will be perfectly stable and correct, while in painting it would be a rather unacceptable technological error.

●Transfer paper is also a great material for frottage.

OPTIONAL if there’s time:

Transferring the finished drawing onto the stone. Transferring your finished drawing onto the stone is quick and easy. It is important to have all the necessary materials ready before starting the work so that there is no need to interrupt it:

●The stone onto which the drawing is to be transferred should be placed on the press, which should be set to light pressure; apart from the pressboard, three sheets of waste paper to act as an interleaf and one sheet of foil or any thin PVC or PET should be used. Everything has to be much larger than the transfer paper.

●The stone needs to be dampened with very warm water; it is best to spend a moment doing it to let the stone slightly warm up. It should be dampened evenly, without any streaks or puddles.

●The transfer paper is then placed on the stone (drawing side down), then foil, then the interleaf paper, then the pressboard; and the whole thing is run under slight pressure on the press, forth and back. At this point, the transfer paper should be stuck to the stone. The pressure cannot be too high as that can damage (tear) the paper.

●The next step is to remove everything except the transfer paper from the stone.

●The paper is then gently dampened with water using a sponge.

●Again, foil, waste paper and pressboard are placed onto the stone, and the pressure is slightly increased, e.g. by ¼ of a turn of the clamping screw; and the whole thing is run under increased pressure on the press, forth and back. This step may be repeated twice to ensure that the entire drawing has transferred onto the stone, but it is not always necessary.

●After removing everything except the paper, carefully wet the paper again. The paper should become translucent and visibly “tired”. This is a sign that it is ready to be removed from the stone.

●The transferred drawing is very sensitive, so it should be left on the stone for a few hours to stabilize (preferably overnight).

●After that time, it is ready for all standard lithography procedures – etching or counter-etching and corrections. Note: the counter-etching of such a drawing is best done with a very delicate solution of citric acid (a small flat teaspoon of acid in 300 ml of cold water); the vinegar solution reacts with the stone too violently and can destroy the drawing.

The use of transfer paper, in addition to the advantages already mentioned, has some disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage is that the lightest tones disappear when handled incorrectly, and that the stone has the tendency to later take on more paint than the drawing itself would indicate. This is due to the fact that paper is much easier to contaminate with grease, especially when highly dissolved inks are used and the paper is then put in a folder or worse, rolled up.

Thank you all for listening. I’m looking forward to hearing from other speakers. Thank you.