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Unconventional Medium As An Alternative in Printing Process of Contemporary Printmaking

By Mazlan Bin Hj. A Karim

Paper is a conversional medium in printmaking that has its own uniqueness and affect. Moreover if the printmaker has the skill of making paper- pulp, the impression can be made into three dimensional effect through either 'blind printing' or casting technique. From the aesthetical point of view, Bernard S. Myers (1963:189) have pointed that, paper medium is one of three important steps to determine 'the beauty of prints'. 'The beauty of prints' can be shown through the quality of lines and plait on the paper medium which is the most attraction compare to any other visual of art disciplinary. This paper work is focusing on a few experiment and medium of unconventional application such as canvas, jut and plaster of paris. The writers also refer to a few printmaker that were using an alternative medium such as Raduan Man, through his work of art on the "Burung Besi‟ (2009), woodcut print and added media on canvas, and Kim Ng through 'Plaster Print' method. The writer also would like to discuss on the advantage and disadvantage that occur in the exploration of these young local printmaker.


Printmaking is one of the fine arts disciplines in addition to paintings, sculpture, and has its own uniqueness than other art disciplines. Conventional definition of printmaking, more emphasis on producing 'impression' that traditionally consists of several components, namely, through the four traditional methods, the use of paper media and block. For example, Carl Zigrosser (1968:73) states that the key features printmaking in the context of fine art is located in a broadcast that “the key to the method of making a print lies in the creation of a master design on a suitable medium, such as a wood block or copper plate, which can be inked and printed to produce a quantity of similar prints. It is a device to produce the “multiple image” – not one but many originals. ”The definition of Rosalind Ragans (2005:48), also emphasize the main aspects of the art prints relating to the use of printing blocks and categorize or 'a print' as 'original work of art', and different reproduction. This is because the prints is produced using three basic steps which involve the formation of a block or matrix, put the color on the block and transfer the image from the block to another surface: “Printmaking is a process in which an artist repeatedly transfers an original image from one prepared surface to another. Paper is often the surface to which the printed image is transferred. The impression created on a surface by the printing plate is called a print.” (Rosalind Ragans, 2005:48).

In the context of the development of contemporary printmaking are based on the statement of Richard Noyce (2006:21) and Alexia Tala (2009:8) is the technique and skill in

producing traditional print will not disappear but it will grow and become a new form. In fact, changing styles and forms that are developed from the traditional methods itself without an emphasis on printmaking conventions. Artists have allowed themselves to leave the conventions of printmaking behind and have dared to do the unthinkable to prints or to print on unconventional surfaces, which has resulted in their work developing in different ways. When artists show work today, they do not intend to technically educate; they want to communicate their ideas and to highlight their concerns. This situation meets reality Frederick Hartt (1976:18) which states that the change in the style of an art form is deemed as 'evolutionary in a technical sense'. From the point of philosophy, a change from one work to the new form by Noel Carroll (1999:129) that the change was due to the meaning or 'content', which gives way or the 'form' of a work of art. Content', which affect the physical or the form' of a work of art: “Form changes because content changes, where new content requires unprecedented, yet suitable modes of presentation. Artistic style is always transforming because new contents impels the search for new forms of articulation".

In this study, researchers focused on the use of a medium other than paper that is commonly used to obtain the results of the impression. The researcher found a number of Malaysian printmakers are also using mediums such as plaster of Paris, canvas and jute to obtain printed results. Paper medium is an important medium in the printing process because the effect of mold or impression of the block will be displayed. Conventional paper medium is the medium used by artists to get the 'impression' or the effects from the block that has engraved. According to Colin Walkin (1991:167) defines 'impression' as: “An image printed on paper from an inked or un-inked block. The indentation or imprint made in paper when high pressure is used during printing.” In the context of traditional printmaking, the use of paper medium is the medium that is usually used to obtain the results of the print or impression as Rosalind Ragans explanation (2005:48) that “...Paper is often the surface to which the printed image is transferred. The impression created on a surface by the printing plate is called a print.”

Background of Study

From the point of aesthetics, as according to Bernard S. Myers (1963:189) notes that the media is among the three main stages that determine 'the beauty of prints'. The beauty of art is displayed through the print qualities and braided lines on the paper medium is just the main attraction than other visual art disciplines. However, based on the views and notes from some of the research leaders in the field of printmaking, such as notes SW Hayter and Gabor Peterdi that other paper, a medium such as plaster of Paris and paper pulp also has good potential to obtain the print result or impression. According to a statement S.W. Hayter (1966:134) that the use of plaster of Paris media started in 1931 in the studio Atelier 17, Paris: “…a method is described of making a print in plaster of Paris. In Atelier 17 since 1931 we have elaborated upon this method. It has the advantage of showing the relief of the lines even more clearly than a print on paper, and it also provides a means of making a print without a press.”

According to the statement of SW Hayter above, there are two advantages of using the medium of plaster of Paris against the paper. The good news is referring to the effects on

revenue through the print or impression by relief method was clearly affordable and also easier printing process that does not involve the 'press'. The researcher believes, artists can save costs because the price of a machine 'press' is a bit high. While the advantages of plaster over the paper as a medium for the publication also received positive reviews from Una E. Johnson (1956:35) that “First described by the French artist Lalance in the mid-19th century, it is method of making a printed impression without a press or paper. The engraved or etched line appears in more brilliant relief imprinted in plaster than it does on paper.” In addition to the medium of plaster of Paris, the use of other mediums such as canvas to get the print in the printing process has been started since the 1960s as a statement Alexia Tala (2009:7) that “back in the sixties different disciplines started merging. Remarkable artists such as Richard Hamilton and Robert Raushenberg used silkcreen on canvases, Andy Warhol also made canvases on a massive scale and 3-D objects like the famous Brillo pad boxes, and Kiki Smith printed on cloth and made soft sculpture with it”.

According to Juhari Said, a prolific printmaker in Malaysia states that it's like a watercolor painting on paper even though we have a watercolour canvas. Juhari Said also stressed that such a paper record or a Carl Zeiss lens LEICA in photography. Meanwhile, the activities of traditional printmaking, a process or a work record anything from the block. In frank, he revealed that in Malaysia, drawing on cheap paper and not a lot of us like to keep it because the weather is humid and restoration experts are expensive, and far less, even, he said again that the National Art Gallery itself has no expertise in the field this. Painting on canvas more easily sold and easily stored. It also has a good status when compared with the paper. He submitted the question of whether because we print on canvas or jute and plywood considered un-conventional print, while the ages artists have been using canvas and jute. While the functions of the canvas and jute is still recording, such as paper, but it was more the result of gross. In Malaysia it is acceptable because the buyers are not so familiar with and do not get the correct advice and appropriate. Juhari Said admitted that he himself had used the canvas and found the results of these recordings are yet to compete with the paper.


Based on these research objectives set forth at the beginning of this paper is focused on Malaysian printmakers who use the medium other than paper, commonly used to obtain the results of the print or impression, such as plaster of Paris, canvas and jute. Are such factors as educational background, influences, experiences and environment influence the artist to choose a medium other than paper as the view Muliyadi Mahamood (2002:10) which states that a change in the performance of printmaking style shown since the early 1980s in Malaysia, is due to several factors such as educational background, the environment and the effect of the lecturers who teach artists at the levels of learning at the University. Therefore, the researcher have to investigated the case of some artists for researcher to understand the purpose and rationale of the selection medium other than paper to get the print or impression. Some of the techniques used to obtain information which interviews, observations and

analysis of documents from various printed sources, such as exhibition catalogs, books and newspaper cuttings.

Discussion and Findings

The researcher have chosen a work that represents Malaysia printmaker refers to Kim Ng and Raduan Man found that the researher has used mediums such as plaster of Paris, canvas and jute to display results through a variety of mold or impression printing technique. Here are the findings of the study and discussion of results from case studies derived from the informant:

Case Study 1: Ng Kim Peow (aka Kim Ng)

He is better known among the friends of art to call Kim Ng. Born in 1965 and is currently the Course Director of the Department of Fine Arts in Design Academy of Art, Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur. Received his early education in the field of fine arts diploma at the Kuala Lumpur College of Art, Kuala Lumpur in 1989 and pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) at London Guildhall, London in 1996. He also has two Bachelor of two different University of MA Design and Media Art, University of Westminster, London, and MA from the project by London Metropolitan University, London, United Kingdom. While still study in London, he has won awards, namely John Purcel Paper Award, London and Owen Rowley Prize, 1st Prize, London. Conventional printing works Kim Ng in the early 1990s showed his maturity and ability to process a mix of technique and methods of printmaking. Referring to some conventional print works on display at the exhibition '1/1 'at the Townhouse Gallery, Kuala Lumpur from 4 to May 24, 2004, for example, the print 'Constructed Affair IV' (2004) and 'Untitle c57' (2004). Both of these print, Kim Ng has incorporated some of the techniques of traditional printmaking such as collagraph, monoprint, silk screen, Chine Colle, and wood molding. Based on the fact Julia Wilson (2004: no page) that examines the exhibition catalog, '1/1'(2004) that Kim Ng is keen to explore the work of combining various materials in print: “…he has moved on to complete an MA course at the University of Westminster, where he pursued his interest in collagraph and ceramis, exploring further experimental uses of various material to combine with printmaking.” (Julia Wilson, 2004: no page)

Plates 1: (Above) ''Postcards to Melaka'' (2009), Plaster Cast From Old Postcards.

(Below) 'Residue'' (2009), Plaster Cast From Silkscreen Print, 6 x 6 x 8 inches each block, 30 blocks in total. Sources: Photo Courtasy By Kim Ng.

The approach used by Kim Ng is not combining the 'plaster print' to the conventional method of printmaking. Kim Ng performing with a full production of printed works using the plaster print' and 'plaster cast'. The author refers to the work of 'plaster cast' Kim Ng‟s titled 'Postcards to Malacca' (2009), which uses old postcards as a block by means of reference. While the print titled 'Residue' (2009), the results obtained in a more complex printing methods, namely the effect of molding plaster print silk screening. Based on the fact that Kim Ng interviewed on 23 September 2010 explaining that the plaster of Paris which he usedbecause his educational background. In addition to printmaking skills, he also trained with skills in ceramics while studying in London.

Plates 2: Kim Ng Showing Demonstration Process Using Plaster Print For his works.

Source: Photo Photo Courtasy By Kim Ng

Based on plate 2, Kim Ng has shown a demonstration of the researcher on how toproduce works of 'Residue' (2009) using the method of 'plaster print'. Demonstrations carried out in the studio art prints, Design Academy of Art, Wangsa Maju. The first step is the image that is required in advance should be printed using silk screening on glass plate. Ink used is dye ink fabric (Fabric dye) species 'emboss paste'. The printed result should be dried using a hair dryer heat. The warming effect of the resultant print silk screening techniques will form an impression emerged that 'bas-relief'. The final step, the medium of plaster of Paris is poured into the lower relief or 'bas-relief' earlier and allowed to dry completely before removal from the surface of the mirror just now. Flushing medium is plaster of Paris today can either be poured directly on the lower relief or bas-relief' accordance with the printmaker. For the work 'Residue' (2009), Kim Ng was poured plaster of Paris into the container box is placed around the impression from silk screening techniques.

The Researcher found that the approach used by Kim Ng is different from the method of 'plaster print' in the early 1930s in the west. He combines the skills of printing silk screening methods and skills of ceramics, often using plaster of Paris. In view of the researcher, Kim Ng has successfully produced an innovation in producing the impression of understanding based on a combination of skills and areas of printmaking and ceramics discipline. Variation shown by Kim Ng is located on the provision of images using silk screening techniques and the use of printing ink 'emboss'. Use of 'embossed fabric dye' impression made the three-dimensional and it is different with the two-dimensional impression in the conventional printmaking that we understand. The researcher found that these different ideas with the western artist, the plaster was poured on the intaglio block to replace the printing ink. Kim Ng, who is also skilled in the discipline of ceramic has to go further by incorporating also the casting method that he learned in the field of ceramics. The combination of skills in silk screening printing and casting method that successfully creates a different impression of the effects and the appearance of lines printed silk screening can be obtained with a very clear and the impression of a three-dimensional effect. Researchers are able to conclude that Kim Ng was able to do an impression of innovation to produce three￾dimensional skills through a combination of discipline and ceramic art prints successfully. Based on that experience, the study also agreed with the statement SW Hayter (1966:134) and Gabor Peterdi (1980:183) that the impression could be obtained with interesting effects using the medium of plaster of Paris.

Case Study 2: Raduan Man

Mohd Raduan Man was born in 1978 in Pahang, and graduated with a degree in printmaking from the University Technology of Mara. He study at Masters level in the field of his paintings from the University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. The researcher will refer specifically to Raduan Man works on display at the exhibition 'Beyond print' (2009) which was held at Galeri Chandan on 15 October to 3 November 2009.Based on some examples of Raduan Man's print such as 'Burung Besi' (2009) is a print that combination of conventional techniques in printmaking. He has combined techniques of wood prints, mixedand printed into the surface of the canvas, linen and jute. Based on the record Amerrudin Ahmad (2009:3) states that the print highlighted by Raduan Man through the exhibition 'Beyond Print' (2009), this is his efforts that go beyond the conventional norms of printmaking

that only print on the paper surface is small. In his selection of favorite artists painting surfaces such as canvas, jute and linen is an option that could bring art to the mainstream print

and have little resistance and tough compared with the paper a more fragile and sensitive, especially in the weather in Malaysia have a high moisture content.

Explain the differences in the exhibited works are related to techniques and mediums that he uses the canvas, line, and jute. According Raduan Man (2009:5) explains “Many new artists nowadays are not willing to dedicate their time and effort toward woodprints, especially on canvas and/or jute. Firstly because carving requires interest and demands a high level of patience. Secondly, canvas and jute are not the friendliest of medium, unlike paper.” Based on his confession, the researchers found that although the canvas and jute have

advantages in terms of durability and a more robust, but is only suitable for recording impressions through certain techniques of conventional printmaking. Through experience Raduan Man himself, believes that the paper remains the medium that is more 'friendly' to record the impression from his experience using the canvas, linen and jute.

Plate 3: "Burung Besi‟ (2009) by Raduan Man, Woodprint & Mixed Media on Jute, 102 cm x

142 cm. Sumber: Katalog Pameran „Beyond Print‟, Galeri Chandan.


At the beginning of this writing, the researcher explained that the main function of the paper to record any effects of either natural effects or the effects or engraved on the block. Showing the effects of block called 'impressions' and the paper is the medium used to display conventional 'impression' through traditional methods of printmaking such as relief print, Intaglio, planograph and silk screen. Based on the discussion of several prints that researchers see through a case study, the researcher can understand the rationale for the selection of a medium other than paper and also the factors that influence the choice of medium. The researcher found that the selection of a medium other than paper such as the use of plaster of Paris, canvas, linen and jute is associated with an educational background that is received by

each artist is consulted. Every artist has demonstrated their skills in a different context in the process of recording impressions. The researchers found that not all impressions are recorded is an innovation. However, researchers interested in the findings produced by Kim Ng, who has managed to show his understanding of the printmaking method combines the discipline of ceramics. Impressions recorded by means of his name as 'plaster cast' is a three-dimensional effect.

In conclusion, the researcher found that the artists are also referred to the paper the potential of the medium is more 'friendly' with all the traditional methods of printmaking. The researcher concluded that the use of media other than paper used by printmakers are actually adjusted to the rules governed by each artist. Although the medium of plaster of Paris is said to be a potential medium for recording an image on the block, but only for conformance to certain rules, especially relief print. Therefor, researcher personally do agree with Juhari Said‟s email dated January 18, 2011 to explain his views about the use of media other than paper to record the results of the print or impression. He note that the fact there is no material that can match the smoothness and softness of the paper in traditional printmaking. According to him, moistened paper because it will be able to capture a greater than dry paper. Recording everything in the block, such as natural wood ties, the fine points of mezzotin technique color imprint on the lino prints, or great lines in collograph, straight lines in the printed silk screening. Using a medium other than paper, such as plaster of Paris, canvas, linen and jute is used for appropriate printing technique. The use of media such as plaster of Paris, canvas, linen and jute is not actually the successor to the medium used in the paper, but consider the artist himself refers to the need of ideas, educational background and technical skills of its prints method.


Ahmad, Amerrudin. (2009) Beyondprint. In 'Beyond Print' Exhibition Cataloq. Kuala Lumpur: Chandan Gallery.

Carroll, Noel. (1999). Neoformalism. Dalam Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary

Introduction. London: Routledge.

Hartt, Frederick. (1976). The Development of Styles. In Art: A History of Painting, Scuplture, Architecture. London: Thames and Hudson.

Ragans, Rosalind. (2005). Arttalk. United States of America: McGraw Hill.

S. Myers, Bernard.(1963) Understanding The Arts. United States of America: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.

Tala, Alexia. (2009). Installations & Experimental Printmaking. London: A & C Black.

Peterdi, Gabor. (1980). Printmaking Methods Old and New Revised and Expanded Edition. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., inc.

Man, Raduan. (2009) Conversation With The Artist. In „Beyond Print‟ Exhibition Cataloq. Kuala Lumpur: Chandan Gallery.

Mahamood, Muliyadi. (2002) GERAKRASA: Tradisi dan Kemodenan Dalam Gaya Seni Lukis Kontemporari. Dalam Katalog Pameran Gerak Rasa. Kuala Lumpur: Muzium Negara.

S. Myers, Bernard. (1958). Prints and People. In Understanding The Arts. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc.

Walklin, Colin. (1991) Relief Printmaking: A Manual of Techniques. British: The Crowood Press.

Zigrosser, Carl. (1968) Prints. Dalam Forum Lecturers: The Visual art. United States: The Voice of America.

Interview Reference:

Interview with En. Raduan Man on 18 March 2011 at No.7, U12 Taman Cahaya Alam, Selangor.

Interview with Ng Kim Peow (Kim Ng) on 23 September 2010 at Desain Academy of Art, 3A-12-G, Jln. Wangsa Delima 10, Desa Wangsa Sec. 5, Wangsa Maju 53300 Kuala Lumpur.


Juhari Said, e-mail message to author, Januari 18, 2011.

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