Born in Duisburg, Germany 1951
Multi-talented as a teenager, Kissmer was undecided whether to dedicate himself to the visual arts or music. He studied at the Folkwangscule, University of Essen and later taught printmaking at the University of Duisberg. As for his music, Kissmer is now an accomplished guitarist and has recorded three albums to date.
Although Kissmer's art is relatively new to North America, the artist is no stranger to the America's, Europe the Soviet Union or Asia ¬ all of which he has traveled through extensively. Described as a young contemporary master, Kissmer's art has been shown in galleries and museums from California to Leningrad.
The artist employs combinations of etching, aquatint, drypoint and mezzotint techniques on his copperplates. A range of warm tones and the talent to bring an electrifying edge to his subject, in part, links Kissmer's art to a long tradition of realism in northern European painting. For this, Kissmer has built a solid reputation and an avid following in Europe and a rapidly expanding interest in North America.
The foundation of Kissmer's art is in his passion for the still life. These elements can include combinations of the female figure, everyday objects and residential architecture. A disquieting sense of heightened observation, limited palette, and refined simplicity create moving works that are not conventionally pretty but compelling; confrontational.
Kissmer's expressive and exaggerated interpretation of detail is a trait that permeates the body of his art that has been described as sensual, provocative, technical and mysterious. The subjects interchange of folds, texture and light have the effect of transforming a commonplace subject into something extraordinary. The result for the observer is not just a visual experience, but also a uniquely personal journey.
About Willy Kissmer Technique.
Etching is called the queen of printing techniques, and, I believe, rightfully so. There is nothing that can not be expressed through an etching. It’s the original, manual form of Intaglio, a technique by which the printing surfaces lie deeper than the plate’s actual surface. In the printing process these indentations are filled with ink, and, under high pressure, pressed onto paper that is softened by moisturizing with water. The material from which the plates are made is usually 1-2mm thick polished copper. Any alteration of the surface, no matter what kind, will hold ink, and thus leave a mark on the paper. Even a slight scratch on the surface of the copper plate will appear in print as a fine line.
Needless to say, there are as many etching techniques as there are ways to create indentations and carvings into a smooth metal surface. One pre-requisite, of course, is the painful confrontation with the technical possibilities. There is the cold and the hot etching. A cold etching is creates through direct mechanical force onto the plate. A hot etching is achieved with acid. Through the etching process the acid is heated, and with it the plate as well. Most often I combine both types, probably because I don’t quite trust either one of them, a fact that stems from my lack of faith in my own complete mastery of either technique. The choice of the medium depends exclusively on the desired effect.
Two techniques that are always part of these combinations are Mezzotint and Scraped Aquatint. These two are alike in that the artist works from dark into light. This also describes the overall sequence in my paintings.
During the process of Mezzotint, the copper plate is pitted by cutting many lines into the surface with a rocker, a rounded serrated tool, until an even, dark area is created on the print. With a scraper and a burnisher, these pits and burrs ate then scraped off and smoothed out. The smooth surface cannot hold as much ink , and therefore appears lighter in print. On the other hand parts which came out too light can be worked on again with a steel needle to became darker, even completely black ink in print.
A pure Mezzotint requires the painful commitment of working on the whole plate I consequent, something dull single-mindless over days, or even weeks. Not a very creative process. That is why I always combine the Mezzotint with the Aquatint, to save time and monotony. Only small plates are created with the true Mezzotint technique. In bigger pieces, I use the rocker only partially. Where ? No one without a strong magnifying glass will ever find out.
The scrapped Aquatint works by the same principle, except in this pitting of the surface is achieved through the etching of the plate, which is covered with melted resine. The acid creates tiny holes between the resin grains, which, depending on the etching time and grain size, leave different shades of gray, up to a complete black plate, on the print.