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Queens Chronicle

Meet the man behind Picasso’s prints: Marcel Salinas

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Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 1:06 pm, Thu Apr 10, 2014.

Many consider artists such as Pablo Picasso to be geniuses and in most respects, they are.

But few know the work Picasso’s printmakers put into each of his pieces.

The art gallery at Queensborough Community College’s latest exhibit, “Classicism and Exile: The Life and Work of Marcel Salinas,” provides a retrospective of the work of one of Picasso’s most trusted printmakers.

Salinas, born in Egypt in 1913, remains virtually unknown despite having a rich body of work. Originally a photographer, Salinas moved into sketching, painting and eventually creating prints for artists.

Printing is tedious work that requires attention to detail and patience to recreate an original piece so artists may mass produce their works.

The process involves using heavy plates glossed over with grease and ink — in either black, red or yellow — and pressing them on paper, one color at a time.

After the repetitious procedure, the proof is brought to the artist, who makes notes about any improvement it needs.

An example of the process is on display as part of the exhibit. The piece is an abstract portrait of a man with royal blood. The original proof was almost flawless, save two spots Picasso asked Salinas to make bluer.

Though the prints are by far the most exciting part of the exhibit, the rest of Salinas’ work — most of which comprises original still life, landscapes and nudes — is worthy of taking in as well.

“Classicism and Exile” allows viewers to watch Salinas learn and evolve through his work.

“When you look at the older pieces, they are beautiful but they stick to the rules,” Faustino Quintanilla, executive director of the gallery, said. “As he got older and more seasoned, he became more free in his paintings.”

His nude pieces are particularly eye-catching as they feature a technique known as “graphics,” which utilizes stark contrasts between shadow, light and lines.

The gallery — a designated landmark — also features a year-round African art collection.

“Classicism and Exile:The Life and Work ofMarcel Salinas”
When: Normal art gallery hours, through May 2
Where: 222-05 56 Ave., Oakland Gardens
Tickets: Free, qcc.cuny.edu

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