by Wenting Li

“Equinox” is a 4 colour risograph print I made near the beginning of fall last year. Right as the air is starting to chill and the Don Valley flying beneath the bus windows is full of colour is my favourite time of year. Apple picking via complicated google-mapped transit routes! Unpacking all the sweaters you forgot you owned! And of course, the witchery.

I’d never done a riso print with more than 3 colours, but had the chance to experiment with 4 during a weekend workshop hosted by friends & inimitable local riso studio Bullywug Press, hosted at Colour Code. It rained all weekend, and I stayed up until the small hours clicking between ink colour layers on photoshop. It was almost like being back in art school – overreaching myself under self-invited circumstances.

The next morning, I biked back to the studio to watch Olivia & Jean enact the magic of riso printing, where colours printed in translucent layers overlap to create an entire catalogue of shades beyond the set number of colours you start with. It’s like screenprinting but with more predictable and logical colour overlays.  Registration can be finicky but very important to the readability of certain images. With four colours, you can get some really fun subtleties in an image, and there’s so much flexibility with how you layer and define shapes. I recommend it, though there’s something beautiful too about even single colour riso. For example, protest posters.

With this print, I play with the negative definition of the blank of the page, which shows through in elements of the apple-picker on our side of the spirit window, provides definition to the latticework of the windows, and pokes through in certain small bright points like the stars. I love printed ephemera that really considers the page as an element, which really comes into play when you’re limited by colour like with riso. I’m also fascinated by the magic of moments of change, between seasons, rotations of the earth, day and nighttime – where shapes have movable outlines and you can imagine that you’ve seen any variety of unseeable things. There’s the sharply defined outlines of the windows of this world, opening into an entire shifting, hidden layer of things imagined. This print is like a glimpse through.

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