Jan Senbergs was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1939 and came to Australia when he was ten. Senbergs’ work has been characterised by a simple and bold aesthetic. From lush landscapes to barren urban spaces, his body of work signifies an artist who has continually experimented with shape, form and motif, a fundamental humanist vision, a finely-honed sense of the absurd, and a rigorous studio practice spanning printmaking, drawing and painting.
Senbergs is Baldessin's exact contemporary. He was also born in Europe and fled his homeland because of the war, arriving in Melbourne in 1950. Like George, Senbergs also worked at the RMIT and in 1973 represented Australia at the Bienal de Sao Paulo. Senbergs first met George when he was living in St. Kilda. George asked if he could screen print his 'Argus' catalogue for a show at the gallery in the Argus building.
George Baldessin (1939-1978) was born in San Biagio di Callalta, in the Veneto in Northern Italy and arrived in Australia ten years later. A printmaker and sculptor he built his bluestone studio at St Andrews (Nillumbik) in 1971. The bluestone studio was hand built by George, his partner Tess and the three Hails brothers, Rob, Doug and Don. Made of recycled materials the studio today contains all of George’s equipment including the large press, which he modelled himself with the help of Neil Jeffrey (Enjay Presses).
George won many prizes throughout his career and is represented in many of Australia's public art collections including his famous 'Pears' sculpture in front of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. In 1975 he represented Australia in the Sao Paulo Biennale, before living and working in Paris until his return to St Andrews in 1977. In 1978 George was killed in a car accident aged 39 years. In 2001 Tess returned to St Andrews to reclaim the run-down studio and reconstitute it as The Baldessin Press & Studio - a printmaking retreat. It operates in George’s memory, so that artists may continue to create, perpetuating the generous spirit of George.
'New Jersey - rust belt' is one of eight prints in the 'Baldessin & Friends commemorative folio. The folio was conceived by Tess Edwards as a fundraising initiative in celebration of the The Baldessin Press & Studio's fifteen year anniversary, and as a way to honour George Baldessin's memory. The Baldessin Press & Studio is a not-for-profit organisation created in memory of the late George Baldessin (1939-1978), whose original studio is now open to the public for creative use and as a practical legacy to living artists. The Studio is located in St Andrews, Nillumbik. The folio is a unique coming together of seven very different and acclaimed artists who are connected by their friendship to the missing eighth member, George Baldessin.
This print finds its' origins in the time Senbergs spent at Harvard in America in 1989-90. In the context of Baldessin it explores an industrial urban surreal vision that was common to both artist. The image captures the life force of the city revealing the keen and observant eye of Jan Senbergs. Similar in sensibility to his large scale charcoal drawings of the 1990s, the artwork is not only a record of what the artist sees, but of what interest him. By following the movement of each line the viewer can witness the artist's eye travelling through, over and around each element of the urban landscape. The scale is deceptive with the image bled to the full-size of the sheet of paper like a microcosm of a much bigger whole.
sugar lift etching of an urban (cityscape - New Jersey) scene - bridges, roads, buildings, in thick black brushstrokes. The image is busy; full of energy and movement. A bleed print in which the paper barely contains the city scape.
Inscriptions & markings
In pencil (handwritten): top centre: left '14/25' (edition); centre 'New Jersey-Rustbelt' (title); right 'Jan Senbergs' (signature);