Malaysian artists get out of comfort zone for unique Paris printmaking excursion

  • Arts
  • Wednesday, 25 Jul 2018

Jalaini's Jembalang Busut Jantan (BKF Rives paper, 2018). Photos: Fumanart

Jalaini Abu Hassan and Ahmad Zakii Anwar are luminaries in their own right. Both have a respected standing in the Malaysian art scene, produced some of the most stunning works and exhibited both locally and abroad.

But can they get out of their comfort zones, and try out a bit of spontaneity? Yes, surely.

In a unique outing, both collaborated in a low-key – and yes, fun – little printmaking project in Paris initiated by KL-based Fumanart gallery manager Antoine Fremon.

This duo printmaking project was done earlier this year.

On July 28, art lovers can view these lithographic prints when they go on display at Cult Gallery, Persiaran Bukit Tunku, in KL.

Apart from the two prints, the artists will also present 12 unique paintings they did using the prints as background.

Their artwork was printed by the renowned Parisian printmaker Idem. The Idem workshop in Paris was established in the 19th century and it still houses 100-year old lithographic printing machines.

Previously known as Mourlot, this workshop has worked with artists such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Alexander Calder and others.

Jalaini measures the dimensions of his lithography work at the Idem workshop.

This project began when Frenchman Fremon learned that Jalaini, or Jai, was planning a trip to Paris to attend senior artist Latiff Mohidin’s Pago Pago exhibition at the Centre Pompidou.

Fremon worked his networking contacts in Paris, while he also enquired if Jai had a day to spare on the trip.

“I have been working with other artists in the Idem studio and I have a good understanding of what type of artists can ‘click’ with lithographic stones and Jai seemed like one of them,” recalls Fremon in an interview.

Ahmad Zakii’s Mephisto (Velin d’ Arches paper, 2018).

All it took was a simple phone call to make the arrangements.

“I contacted Jai and asked him if he would be interested in doing a print in Paris and suggested that, as soon as he arrives in Paris, he dropped by the studio to see and feel the atmosphere. That’s what he did and right away he chose a stone he liked and started drawing.”

Coincidentally, Ahmad Zakii was also in Paris for the Latiff Mohidin exhibition.

“The following day we bumped into Ahmad Zakii at the Musee du Quai Branly (an indigenous art and cultures museum) and when we talked to him about Idem, he got very curious and asked to come to see us the following morning,” recalls Fremon.

“As you can guess, 20 minutes after arriving (at the Idem workshop), he was already at work on a stone he chose,” says Fremon.

Ahmad Zakii carefully drawing his artwork on pure limestone at the Idem workshop in Paris.

It did not matter that neither artists are printmakers as the team at Idem took care of the technical aspects of the printmaking.

At the end of the session, Jai produced his piece Jembalang Busut Jantan and Ahmad Zakii’s work is called Mephisto.

In all, Fremon says this “weekend” project was rewarding. He notes that both artists were definitely pleased about this printmaking excursion.

“You can expect to see new projects in the future. At this point, I am not sure what type of projects. I just feel it is important to explore different types of mediums and materials, and to experiment with new ideas,” says Fremon.

A public viewing of these works is on at Cult Gallery, 10A, Persiaran Bukit Tunku in Kuala Lumpur on July 28. Open: 4pm-9pm. After the event, the remaining artworks can be viewed by appointment. Contact: 012-286 1800. Email: or Hsien Huey Khoo (

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