I love LA – anytime you want to peek into a new corner of town, a discovery is to be made. I recently met a family who patented a new way of making prints, and over the course of their career, has worked with the world’s most famous artists. The Remba family’s studio is called Mixografia, which has been located in West Adams for the past thirty years and recently added a lovely gallery space that displays the range and richness of their unique printmaking legacy.
Take a look at this print – meant to look like concrete, as if lifted from Grauman’s Chinese Theater. In fact, “Concrete Couples” is made of paper and was designed by John Baldessari in 2016.
I first came across Mixografia and Luis, Lea, and Shaye Remba at the Art Contemporary LA exhibit at Barker Hanger in January. In a sea of crowded booths, the work handing in this quiet corner drew me in. A magnificent piece by John Baldassari called Concrete Couples stole my heart – I loved its playful statement about couples through history, as if they’d put their prints into Grumman’s Chinese. I loved the palate, and that each couple’s names were scribed in a font that looked different from the next. But when I learned that the pieces was made from paper, I was hooked.
Fortunately, the Rembas were on hand to explain the work. They make their own paper, work with an artist on his or her unique idea, and create a mold that presses color and shape into a print. The artist decides he or she wants something to looks like concrete (as in Baldassari’s case), or rust (as in the case of Ed Ruscha’s prints), or string (as with the exquisite Louis Bourgeois prints that I later saw at the Remba’s Gallery, Mixografia). The Rembas figure out how to do it, collaborate with the artist on scope and color, and then voila. Each print is made solely from paper and ink.
Two weeks later, a friend invited me to visit Mixografia and I was fortunate to spend more time with the Rembas. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with this gentle couple who moved to LA from Mexico in the 1980s, and have led a charmed if not romantic life, collaborating with some of the world’s finest artists. They met in college and opened a print shop, and via an accidental encounter with met Rufino Tamayo (the famous Mexican surrealist), stumbled upon the idea of printing works for artists. Eventually, this led to them developing a unique process, that they have patented in many countries around the globe. Over the years, they have created over 600 editions with 89 artists.
John Baldessari works frequently with Mixografia, and here are the Rumbas with the latest project from LA’s favorite artist – an exploration or the primacy and secondary colors. Here is another series they did with him in years past.
Mixografia is an elegant gallery and print shop across the street from a public high school on Adams Street. The first item to greet visitors in the Gallery itself is a massive Tamayo print, hanging serenely next to the even more massive stone, from which it was struck.
When they first met Tamayo, he wanted to break free of the small, flat page and striking these early prints was an arduous, time-consuming process. Over time, the process has become lighter on it’s feet. Now a rolling printer applies pressure on a copper plate (designed by the artist) and their special paper is squeezed through to create a print with elements that may be as high as 2″ off the surface. Here, Jacob Hashimoto’s kites float above the surface of the print, and yet everything on this surface came from a single copper cast. (Here is our story about Hashimoto’s kites from a show at MOCA a few years ago, which will give you as sense of the 3 dimensionality of his work. You’ll see that he got to the Mixografia space and decided to just collapse the kites onto a table and glimpse them from above).
Here are more of Hashimoto’s kites.
Prints by Analia Saban of what appear to be plastic bags have garnered the most attention since the new Gallery opened. Of course, they are only paper, but it’s hard to fathom this, even when you’re close up.
Here is the exquisite Louis Bourgeois print. There are three of these, hanging side-by-side in the gallery, and they’re magnificent.
And last but hardly least, a serene Helen Frankenthaler print – pure joy.
Be sure to visit Mixografia’s website for some videos about the process of printing, and news about upcoming shows.
Mixografia – 1419 East Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90011 T: 323.232.1158