Carborundum - Miró, Kuroda, Tàpies

This printing process, invented by the painter Goetz, was developed in 1965 in the workshops Maeght Arte and required the manufacture of a special press. This beautiful technique in relief and in hollow revolutionized the engraving and allowed artists like Miró, Tàpies or Kuroda to realize works which they could not have realized by the known processes of engravings.
Aki Kuroda, Collage on carborundum, 120 x 80 cm

This process consists, no longer to deposit ink in a hollow of a copper plate, but on the contrary to create a particularly rough relief allowing the ink to cling to this surface to be then transferred on the paper. This gives color printing with embossing even particularly important as for some painters whose material is part of their work.

The technique uses an extremely hard and stable material, the carborundum which is a silica powder used in the industry for the grinding of tools of precision, for various lapping, but also in the work of glass, work of the cast iron or in the polishing of stones.

We all know carborundum without knowing it, in fact the steps of the Parisian subway, which support millions of passages, are made of carborundum, this glittering, rough and non-slip material.

This carborundum is mixed with varnishes or resins that harden upon drying. The pasty mixture is applied with a brush and worked on a metal plate, resulting in a very hard material that can withstand pressure of several tons without cracking.

Antoni Tàpies, La main, 1972, Aquatint, litho and carborundum, 66 x 88.9 cm, Maeght Éditeur

This preparation offers the advantage of being able to be inked, wiped, and printed like an intaglio print, without having to dig the metal.
The use of metal as a support is not mandatory. Other resistant and stable materials can be used, such as Plexiglas, laminates or used offset plates. The ink used, black or color, is the same as for intaglio, made more fluid to allow inking with a brush, with brushes more or less wide according to the surfaces to be inked.

Joan Miró, Manoletina, 1969, Aquatint and Carborundum, 69.5 × 106.7 cm, Maeght Éditeur.

Wiping can be done with tarlatan, with possibly a tissue paper finish when it comes to surfaces with particularly fine carborundum grains. Printing is done on an intaglio press, with less pressure than for intaglio, and with a softer covering of one or two foam rubbers and two felts. The carborundum technique is very well suited to color and gives a great richness of materials and forms, and can be combined with other engraving techniques.

Aki Kuroda has made large inked prints in gray, where the reliefs stand out particularly well. Then he uses them as a support for collages that are as creative as they are impressive, sometimes disturbing but often very funny as they are self-portraits.

The series of his collages was exhibited in Paris from September 15 to 19, 2021.