The Dawn of Intaglio
The history of intaglio dates back until at least the Middle Ages. What started out as a decorative technique practiced by goldsmiths evolved into its own art form when German craftsman Daniel Hopfer had the idea to apply his metal armor etchings to paper. It went on to be refined, honed and developed by some of the most acclaimed European masters like Dürer, Rembrandt and Goya.
Through the years, numerous methods of intaglio have arisen thanks to the desire of inspired artists to mold an established technique to meet their own creative needs. Hard ground, soft ground, dry point, aquatint. Each method offered a novel approach to printmakers looking for new ways to give their art more depth, texture, variety. In contrast to hard ground, which is quite solid once applied to the metal plate and must be scratched away with a pointed stylus or needle, soft ground dries soft.
This gives the artist the creative liberty to make impressions of other objects on the plate: plants, leaves, lace or whatever object might enhance the etching with its unique patterns. Aquatint offers artists the opportunity to incise more than lines into the metal panels. The use of a rosin-based ground allows for the creation of tones, which give the print a softer aqueous look.
From Playful to Introspective
Lorena Herrero, like many of her predecessors, has dabbled in all the intaglio techniques in her quest to give rise to her artistic voice and determine the path of her craft. And in this process of learning and experimenting with an art form, her mode of expression also evolved. There is a shift in Herrero’s work from playful to introspective. Whereas her earlier works provided a concrete visual to the viewer, her more recent works allow fantasy to roam wild. Having mastered the various methods at her disposal, she has manipulated them to speak a language all her own. One that is indicative of who she has become as an individual and as a printmaker.
Shooting Diamonds, 2012
Looking at Herrero’s later works, the viewer can not escape the feeling that the artist is attempting to convey a message. It is not explicit. One must delve into the realm that she has created, let the forms and voids reveal their secrets and relinquish control of the thought process to the landscape Herrero has created for her audience.
Shades of Night II, 2016