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Carving Reality: Contemporary Woodcut

Exchange Exhibition from East Asia

7 November – 6 December 2020 @ The Back Room


Exhibiton Info

Tirle: Carving Reality: Contemporary Woodcut Exchange Exhibition from East Asia

Dates: 7 November – 6 December 2020

Venues: The Back Room & The Courtyard @ The Zhongshan Building

The Back Room is pleased to announce Carving Reality: Contemporary Woodcut Exchange Exhibition from East Asia, a group exhibition focused on social realist woodcuts curated by Krystie Ng, opening from 7 November to 6 December. This exhibition will be showcasing woodcut prints from Malaysia, Indonesia, East Timor, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan, it aims to serve as a platform to feature local and international printmakers while further promoting exchange among art practitioners and art lovers. 

To discuss the development of modern woodcut printmaking in an inter-Asian context, one cannot disregard the historical moment in the 1930s when Lu Xun (魯迅) introduces European Social Realist woodcuts to modern China. From this point onwards, offshoots of woodcut practice start turning away from Romanticism and instead take on a more realistic and expressive approach. Woodcut develops such that it not only portrays social reality and offers social commentary, but also often takes on the responsibilities of educating the masses and of disseminating propaganda, in addition to being adopted as a tool for mass organisation. 

Although woodcut is generally categorised as an art form, it is essential to apply an alternative lens by viewing woodcut as the product of cultural activisms emerging from a leftist perspective. A common feature of these woodcuts is that they provide a medium for artists to engage directly with the masses, especially with precarious groups in the lower stratas of society, such as farmers, labourers, migrant workers, the homeless, and sexual minorities. In these woodcut prints, marginalised communities are not only the target audience but more importantly are also the subject matter. 

Carving Reality invited 11 individual artists and 6 artist collectives to take part, they are Anti-War, Anti-Nuclear, and Arts Block-print Collective (A3BC, Tokyo), Bayu Widodo (Jogjakarta), Chen Wei-Lun (Taipei), Djuwadi Ahwal (East Timor), Denpasar Kolektif (Bali), Dodo Irwandi (Jogjakarta), Fitri DK (Jogjakarta), Li Ning (Hong Kong), Memeto Jack (Sabah), Mohamad ‘Ucup’ Yusuf (Jogjakarta), Nur Seto Setiawan (Jogjakarta), Pangrok Sulap (Sabah), Print & Carve Dept. (Taipei), Printhow (Hong Kong), Propagila (Bali), Taring Padi (Jogjakarta) and Yunanto (Jogjakarta). Interestingly, despite working in different localities and on various issues, these artists and collectives have been influencing and supporting each other, hence building solidarity across the region. 

The exhibition will be installed at two locations at The Zhongshan Building, besides taking up The Back Room Gallery, it is curated to an expanding site–The Courtyard @ The Zhongshan Building. This is an initiative to reach out non-regular gallery visitors, where large-sized prints created by the collectives together with their communities are installed and hung from the 4-storey building, we wish to deliver extraordinary visual viewing experience and sensual impacts to the viewers. 

In conjunction with the exhibition, we will also publish a book entitled An Outline of the Development of Social Realistic Woodcuts in Malaysia to further provide perspectives on the topic of printmaking, particularly in the contexts of the local art scene.


An Outline of the Development of Social Realistic Woodcuts in Malaysia

Published November 2020

Download link: 

* Please feel free to download the e-book and book cover and upload to your site. Same for the third entry.

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