The Mystery of travis lawrence
Written by Marina May
As we descend a flight of stairs of a suburban house, we emerge into an alchemical print shop pulled straight from 16th century Northern Europe. The wooden jamb marks the threshold where a being can transcend from profane space to sacred realm, as the corner room fills with slow burning incense. No wall is spared from the epic myth unfolding on its surface, populated with daggers, castles, and hybrid creatures.
This is the mystery of Travis Lawrence.
Lawrence works primarily with printmaking, an art form not frequently utilized in the 21st century, let alone in Kirkwood, Missouri. His practice is intrinsically tied in both process and subject to the North Renaissance. In his studio, books ranging from alchemy to philosophy stacked haphazardly in piles lend the feel of a veritable 16th century humanist, who spends his time ravenously dissecting the natural and spiritual world.
His work is no different. Bolstered by a symbolic canon that would impress even Albrecht Durer, Lawrence’s prints present elements of philosophy in a way that further enhances their mystique.
In one scene, a giant serpent curls upwards towards, with its singular eye staring towards a crescent moon. Seven steps have replaced its scaly underbelly leading to a dark entryway in the form of a keyhole. Drops of blue liquid ooze down from above, congealing in the depressions of the lunar surface. Derived from both religious and mystical origins, the snake represents a creature of knowledge and life, anointed by the waters from the heaven above. The viewer is invited to join the journey upwards to perhaps achieve an enlightened state.
The latest is a series of vertical images. Recently presented at the Contemporary Art Museum, the series of stills form a narrative directly influenced by illustrations from the Renaissance. As singular prints, they form remarkable compositions, but when combined they act as a codex through which the viewer can attempt to unlock their meaning.
His work extolls the forgotten virtues of the line. Sinuous contours and highly edited compositions showcase his ability as a pure draftsman. For Lawrence, the printing process mirrors the content of his work. He begins with a blank matrix where he slowly removes matter in order to create print -- creation through destruction.