John Yau is an art critic and poet. Richard Hull is a Chicago-based painter influenced by the Chicago Imagists who were his teachers and mentors. Hull has previously worked with Manneken Press, a fine art publisher producing original, limited edition, and unique prints, portfolios, and artist’s books by contemporary artists.
Yau and Hull, two longtime friends, have both engaged in collaborations with others but never with each other. For their collaboration Wanted!, Yau provided pithy phrases which he sketched in colors on rectangular plates. Hull used the texts as prompts, drafting abstracted portraits on a larger square plate. The three plates were placed together and printed once for the initial impression, then a second cognate or “ghost” impression was pulled, a pattern followed throughout the series.
Each of the prints contains a message. Some call for more attention to under-recognized artists like John D. Graham, and Miyoko Ito. “Wanted: The Lost Movies of Anna May Wong” (2023) is a lamentation for the first Chinese-American film star whose career was diminished due to stereotyping and Hays Code censorship.
“Wanted: A Lavish Biopic Of Sessue Hayakawa, I” (2023) forefronts another early 20th-century Hollywood film actor whose career as a romantic lead was arrested by wartime anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States. Hayakawa’s career rebounded post-WWII with the support of fellow actors, and later appeared in Bridge On the River Kwai, Swiss Family Robinson, and others, but remains relatively unknown to contemporary audiences. Yau’s text calls attention to Hayakawa’s name and talent while Hull’s image of a fractured yet radiant figure is suggestive of the racism that withered the actor’s legacy.
“I Dreamed Of A Thousand Tongues Wagging And Singing In The Sky/Philip Guston”, and “Giorgio Guston/Philip de Chirico” are paeans to favorite artists, and jocose wordplay appears in “Wanted: Juan Ted”. Hull’s abstract heads are intended to evoke humor, anxiety, exasperation, or pathos and become a visual phraseology to Yau’s writing; or, as Yau states, “Something weirdly funny, slightly disturbing, oddly comical, and a tad creepy.”
The “Wanted!” prints are 30 x 22 inches. Twenty-three unique impressions were pulled by hand using archival materials, and are signed by both artists. The prints are published by and available from Manneken Press and are currently the subject of an online exhibition on Artsy.
Disguise The Limit: John Yau’s Collaborations will be mounted by the University of Kentucky Art Museum in 2024 and will include several of the monotypes from this session.
To learn more, visit mannekenpress.com.