This blog was created as a venue for printmakers in Malaysia to come together and share ideas, information and facilities.
We also would like to create awareness, spread the love for printmaking!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

An essay for Macau exhibition catalogue

This an ambitious and bold step towards the better understanding of printmaking among countries in the region.

Contemporary printmaking in China started in the 1930s, but due to the restrictive conditions of the time, priority was given to the woodcut. After the founding of New China the situation changed out of all proportion. Not only was printing established in the academies as a specialist area of study but, as well as woodcut printing workshops, lithography and intaglio workshops were starting to be set up.

The Japanese are well-known for its " 木版画, moku hanga" (woodblock printing method) which is best known for its use in the ukiyo-e artistic genre. Although similar to woodcut in western printmaking in some regards, the moku hanga technique differs in that it uses water-based inks—as opposed to western woodcut, which often uses oil-based inks. The Japanese water-based inks provide a wide range of vivid colors, glazes, and transparency.

Contemporary printmaking came to India in 1556, about a hundred years after Guttenberg's Bible was first printed. There is, however, evidence that the use of the concept of mass duplication dates even further back in India, to the time of the Indus Valley Civilization. For instance, grants of land were originally recorded by engraving the information on copper plates and etchings on different surfaces like wood, bone, ivory and shells have been documented as an important craft of that time. Nevertheless, printmaking as a media for artistic expression, as it is recognized today, emerged in India less than eighty years ago.

Silpakorn University, Thailand's first fine arts university, was established in 1943 by Silpa Bhirasri (Professor Corrado Feroci), an Italian artist who came to Thailand in 1923 at the request of King Rama VI. The university was the country's first institution to offer a program in printmaking. It was instrumental in establishing the print category at The National Art Exhibition an annual event which celebrated its 48th anniversary this year. Begun by Prof.Bhirasri in 1949, The National Art Exhibition, awarded its first printmaking prizes at the 12th annual competition in 1961.The print works displayed over the years have received a tremendous amount of interest and attention. This has encouraged artists and professors at Silpakorn University to raise the level of their teaching and their artistic output, and as a result, a number of local printmakers today enjoy a reputation that extends far beyond the borders of Thailand!
(taken from various websites - click the country links to read more)

Printmaking has a long and interesting history in every country. It would be educational & informative to know more about it. So, for the 1st Macao Printmaking Triennale - exhibition catalogue, each country was asked to submit a 5000 word essay about the development of artistic printmaking in their country.

I was given the task to research and write the essay. A daunting task, as I very new to this genre but i dived in with full energy for it's been  a long time since I've done any academic research. I camped at the National Visual Art Gallery (formerly known as NAG)'s resource centre & National Library's Malaysiana section and googled the net . Juhari Said's website had very useful articles. I was also lucky to get the help of Prof Rahman Mohamed, Dean of School of Arts, Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.  Frank Woo gave (lent) me his collection of printmaking exhibition catalogues with articles about printmaking history that were invaluable. Kim Ng (Ng Kim Peow) showed me around his Printmaking studio @Dasein Academy of Arts (near Wangsa Walk, Mangsa Maju). He heads the Fine Art Dept. at Dasein. He was the only one to answer to my email questionnaire about the situation of printmaking in Malaysia, in the last 5 years. Also spoke to Suzlee Ibrahim, head of Aswara's Fine Arts Dept. on the phone and he very gallantly gave me his views and encouragement.

And so, with much thought, reading, writing and re-writing the essay (at one point) almost ran amok beyond the 5K word quota. Much information keep coming in and re-writing was the order of the day.  And i had an extra hurdle - i kept spelling names wrongly!, especially if they were mentioned many times in the essay. So in my very, very final draft, i proof-read the essay concentrating only on the names.  The writing went past  a 'famous' event, the Olympic badminton finals, which i missed (although, technically i was sitting a few metres from the tv monitor.). It also survived past the fasting month and Hari Raya celebrations. When i made a trip to USM to collaborate with him on the essay, we talked/discussed for hours during the late morning till afternoon. He also had to work during the Raya celebrations, checking my work (as he is a printmaker himself) and writing the conclusion.

But all in all, it was one of the most intense, yet enriching experience, thanks to all who help and various capacities.  Cant wait to read about the other printmakers in other countries!


  1. very nice article, I am a print-maker and i am studying master of Art at Malaysia, also am very interested to meet local artists and print-makers or also exhibitions, but i found this dificlt to do, if you have any suggestion please tell me ..
    and glad to be in touch and talk about the printmaking and the art any time...

  2. thanks for sharing..


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