Date of this Version
RESOURCE and RESPONSE, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, May 19 to July 5, 1987
There comes a time in every artist's life, when he finds his true medium. Richard Mock found his when he began to make linoleum block prints. Though Mock was introduced to the linocut in high school, it was on July 23, 1980, that he embarked on a six year project in collaboration with the New York Times, and his metier was evident.
During this productive period, Mock revived the role of artisan, adapting his talents as a painter, to the needs of the newspaper, illustrating specific stories on the Opinion and Editorial page of the Times. His emphatic visual statements served to bring the contemporary art world out of the Arts and Leisure section and into the secular arena of the Op/Ed pages. Mock began this long-term project with the intention of compiling a portfolio of sixty linoleum block prints. He methodically accumulated prints created spontaneously upon the request of Jerelle Kraus, Art Director of the Op/Ed page. Kraus chose an article she considered appropriate for Mock's illustrative interpretation. Generally, these articles refer to human interest issues, such as ecology, social injustice, ethical values, or the economy. Typically, Kraus read the given article to Mock over the telephone, and then related the specific dimensions of the space available for an illustration. During this initial conversation, Mock harnessed his immediate response to the article, often visualizing the image before Kraus had finished reading. Within twelve to eighteen hours, Mock had completed the linocut image and delivered it to the Times, where it was reduced, printed, and distributed to the Time's vast readership.
Mock's interest in block prints corresponded with the resurgence of wood and linoleum block printing and narrative expressionism in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The potent issues of hypocrisy and social struggle are natural vehicles for Mock's assertive imagery. His powerful, tightly woven compositions and imposing lines could be considered refined graffiti. The caricatured renderings and child-like simplification, possess a primitive quality similar to the impassioned markings on a subway wall. But while the linocuts retain the veracity and immediacy of a spray-painted graffiti drawing, they also aspire to the permanence and resolution of a traditional print. Spontaneity and technical ease are wed in Mock's incised depictions of colloquial reality.