A miniprint group exhibition keeps a niche art form in the spotlight

  • Arts
  • Sunday, 09 Jun 2019

Australian artist Cleo Wilkinson's 'Entropia' (mezzotint, 2017). She is one of the a few artists working today in the mezzotint printmaking technique. Photo: Segaris Art Center

The inaugural Kuala Lumpur International Miniprint Exhibition (Klimex), organised by Segaris Art Center last year, saw 90 artists from Malaysia and abroad participating in the show at the National Art Gallery.

Five local artists – Stephen Menon, Liu Cheng Hua, Kim Ng, Ahmad Noor Rashidi and Fawazie Arsyad – from Klimex ended up as finalists at the 2018 Jogja International Miniprint Biennale (JIMB), a miniprint competition held every two years in Indonesia.

Nizam Rahmat, Segaris’ gallery director and the man heading the Klimex team, couldn’t be any prouder.

This year, Segaris has put another Klimex show packed with exciting content and three times the number of participants.

Enter One Over Two: Klimex19, the second edition of Segaris’ miniprint exhibition, organised in collaboration with Teras Management, JIMB’s organiser.

The show is currently on at Segaris in Publika, Kuala Lumpur.

“The fact that we can have a second show is a testament to the success of the first one. We are planning to host our own miniprint competition, similar to the one in Jogja,” says Nizam, 51, during a recent interview at the gallery.

The exhibition is a survey of 300 mini prints from 217 artists. There are works from 137 local artists, including Stephen Menon, Samsudin Wahab, Liu Cheng Hua, Kim Ng, Fawazie Arsyad, Faizal Suhif and Juhari Said exhibited alongside international names such as Cleo Wilkinson (Australia), Kouki Tsuritani (Japan), Rakesh Bani (India), Aurora Arazzi (Indonesia), Adriano Castro (Brazil), Emilia Aizer (France) and Eric Mummery (Canada).

"We want to develop more exposure towards printmaking. It is one of the goals for the Kuala Lumpur International Miniprint Exhibition,' says Nizam, the exhibit organiser and Segaris gallery director.

For the international artists, Nizam says he approached the JIMB team and picked the artworks from last year’s competition. This year’s Klimex also presents works by students from UiTM, Aswara and Dasein Academy of Art.

“The idea is to give them (the students) a platform and early career exposure, to exhibit alongside the senior and international artists,” says Nizam.

A standard size

The prints at Klimex are required to be no larger than 20cm x 20cm and they must be printed on paper using a singular conventional printing technique or a combination of them.

The range of printmaking styles include etching, woodcut, intaglio, aquatint, mezzotint, lithography, screenprint and serigraph.

Nizam, a visual artist himself, says that standardising the size of the prints (a common practice for many print shows around the globe) “gives the artists a good challenge.”

Liu Cheng Hua's Kapitan Larut (acrylic screenprint on metallic paper, 2019). Photo: Segaris Art Center

In fact, he says, printmaking itself is “a good discipline for artists.”

For Klimex, the artists are required to use only conventional printmaking techniques and develop more than one edition for every artwork.

For Liu Cheng Hua, the miniprint size was a keen challenge. He is known for his sculptures and larger artworks.

The 34-year-old, however, says he strives to “bring something new every time I showcase my work.”

Samsudin Wahab's Rindu (etching & aquatint, 2019). Photo: Segaris Art Center

In his Kapitan Larut piece, Liu uses metallic paper “to break the conventional way” and combines geometrical shapes with organic ones.

“At the back is the very famous pokok hujan-hujan and I have distorted the Chinese window motif to create a winding pathway. This gives dimension,” explains Liu, the acting head of Malaysian Institute Of Art’s Fine Art department.

Kapitan Larut is a continuation of Liu’s works on his hometown in Taiping, Perak. In this work, he focuses on Kapitan Chung Keng Quee, who is the founder of modern day Taiping.

Mood of the times

Menon, Universiti Malaya’s resident artist and curator at the Museum of Asian Art, submitted three entries for Klimex19, all focusing on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. All three silkscreen prints feature Tun M in different phases of his life.

“Through these works, I want to say that we cannot judge someone by his race or religion,” says the 47-year-old Kuantan-born.

Menon’s recent exhibitions include the 12th Biennial International Miniature Print (2019) in the United States and London Original Print Fair (2018).

The Politician speaks of the power of the electorate that put a new government in place. The motif of a zebra head, says Menon, represents freedom. The word “fragile” at the bottom of the artwork serves as a caution.

Samsudin Wahab, who is no stranger to the printmaking scene, also has a total of three entries. He says while his former works were “very extreme and radical”, his offering this time around is more “mellow”.

“Nowadays, my works are more personal. These artworks are all based on my childhood memories,” says Samsudin, 35.

Kouki Tsuritani's A Rocking Sheep (wood engraving, 2017). Photo: Segaris Art Center

He uses the etching technique to produce his works and maintains that he didn’t intend this series to be viewed “in a political way.”

His Penyucian piece is a surreal print work, showing a couple involved in what looks like a ritual.

“This is a normal ritual in a kampung, mandi bunga, which is to get rid of the bad stuff. It can also be seen like getting rid of the old government,” says Samsudin, who is also part of Chetak 12, a printmaking collective.

Nizam says Klimex19, just like last year’s edition, is to encourage local artists to participate in next year’s JIMB.

However, he says, although printmaking is getting more popular in recent years, more work needs to be done to push this discipline forward.

“There are smaller groups like Chetak 12 doing their part but they move quietly. So, hopefully, with a show like this, we can bring this (print) discipline to the forefront,” concludes Nizam.

One Over Two: Kuala Lumpur International Miniprint Exhibition 2019 (Klimex19) is on at Segaris Art Centre in Publika, Solaris Dutamas, Jalan Dutamas 1, Kuala Lumpur till June 23. Gallery opening hours: 10am to 7pm daily (including weekends and public holidays), closed on Monday. Call 03-6211 9440 or visit: segaris-artcenter.blogspot.com.


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