Nothin’ Like the Taste of Print

Nothin’ Like the Taste of Print
An Exhibition of Works by 21 Hong Kong Printmakers

Hanart TZ Gallery, in collaboration with the Hongkong-based printmaking studio MablePrintClay, is proud to present the group exhibition Nothin’ Like the Taste of Print, shining a light on 21 up-and-coming Hong Kong printmakers.


Hong Kong has a strong tradition of printmaking. Interest in the medium has grown exponentially among both artists and collectors over the last decade, and the medium is celebrated in the form of international conferences and private biennials. The efforts of legendary artist-educators such as John Li Tung-Keung, Jane Liu, and Chung Tai Fu, have inspired a whole new generation of printmakers. One of these is David Jasper WONG, the founder of MarblePrintClay. Since its establishment in 2014, the studio has served as a hub for the local printmaking art scene. Apart from their reputation as Hong Kong’s top commercial fine art print studio, MarblePrintClay is dedicated to nurturing younger printmakers by organizing workshops and offering professional artistic support.  Although the featured artists were trained at a number of different art schools and have a diverse range of styles, they all have been part of the MarblePrintClay community at different points in their careers. In a sense, this exhibition offers a panoramic view of the ongoing renascence of the Hong Kong printmaking scene.


The title of this show, Nothin’ Like the Taste of Print, brings attention to the technical semantics of the term ‘print’ itself. One of the difficulties of defining what a ‘print’ or the ‘act of printing’ means, is that the word covers such a broad range of printing activity, creative approaches and techniques. Among the wider public, there is sometimes a misperception that fine art prints take second place to a medium like painting, because they are ‘reproductions’, not ‘originals’ in the way that paintings are. One could say that, metaphorically speaking, prints are sometimes viewed like the entrées at a Chinese banquet: no matter how good they might taste, they play only a ‘supporting role’ to the main course. However, although printmaking involves reproducing an image, a fine art print is not just a copy of an original: it is something else entirely. Printmakers are highly skilled in technique and planning, but they are also deeply creative artists, and the limited edition prints they produce are true works of art.


The present exhibition highlights the unique qualities of different printmaking styles, including relief, intaglio and stencil.  The relief technique has continued to be relevant for centuries due to its dynamic nature and roots in various traditions. In his book Three Parallel Artworlds (2014), Chang Tsong-Zung notes the important influence of the New Chinese Woodcut Movement of the early 20th century, which promoted the creation and dissemination of realist woodcuts to highlight issues of social and political injustice. Artists Michelle FUNG and Jay LAU draw inspiration from this seminal movement in Chinese art history to elaborate on the use of woodcut prints as social critique. Fung’s Polluta woodcut series is an eco-political satire in on the visual propaganda of an imagined totalitarian colony. Loosely based on the expressionistic style of the New Chinese Woodcut Movement, Fung’s monochromatic yet radiant woodcuts represent a milestone in her decade-long project. Jay Lau’s woodcuts depict a cold and authoritarian reality dwarfing the feeble masses. The titles of his works are derived from dystopian literature. Despite its dark mood, his work contemplates the integrity and the bravery of regular people in adversity.


LI Ning, who has years of experience as one of Hong Kong’s top tattoo artists, has accumulated a library of self-created visual motifs. In his print work, he collages these motifs together with his own drawings, then uses both woodcut and linocut to create visually stunning black-and-white sci-fi landscapes populated with imaginary extra-terrestrial beings.


Chivas LEUNG and Nicolas HO both studied in Japan, the birthplace of the celebrated printmaking style of ukiyo-e. In Leung’s award-winning series of water-based woodblock prints, each work is named after a line of lyrics in a specific J-pop song from Leung’s personal playlist. The colors and textures in the works capture daily life under a humorous lens. Nicolas HO’s screenprints are clean and serene.


Justin LARKIN, Erika SHIBA, and Kylie CHUNG honed their printmaking skillsets at prestigious art schools in the UK and the US. In their individual journeys each has infused the printmaking process and the use of technique with their unique personal and psychological explorations.


Mono-print is a printing technique that creates an image only once with a high degree of unpredictability. Artists AnGee CHAN and David Jasper WONG use this technique to create their uniquely expressive and surprising prints. The two artists are not only high-level mono-print artists, but are also dedicated to nurturing printmaking talents. Two of David Jasper Wong’s students, Vincent WONG and Marion DECROOCQ, are featured in the exhibition. AnGee Chan, as the printmaking teacher in the Academy of Visual Art at the Baptist University of Hong Kong, mentors a community of young artists. Four of them who dedicate their art practice to the intaglio style are featured in this exhibition: Aki SUNG Oi Yau and Glary WU combine etching, aquatint, and drypoint techniques to tell stories about human emotion. Encouraged by their teacher, Jeannie WONG and LAU Hong Lam furthered their studies in Europe. Jeannie Wong’s drypoints consist of therapeutic lines meticulously interwoven into agrarian scenes. Lau Hong Lam perfected his mezzotint techniques in Italy and continues to amaze his followers with luxurious tonal quality in his vanitas still lifes.


Photography plays crucial role in the art practices of LAM Lok San, CHAN Yi Ting, and Glo CHAN. Lam’s woodcuts derive from his own family photographs. The textures of his prints arouse a sense of nostalgia and convey the melancholy beauty that lies between oblivion and memory. The screenprints by Chan Yi Ting reflect on the collective memory embedded in city streets. By manipulating the hues of the asphalt, she reimagines a cityscape that is iridescent yet vulnerable. Glo Chan uses gum arabic to develop the photographic images of her Jelly World, an analogy of an enduring metropolitan city.


YUE Yuen Yu and CHEUNG Tsz Ki are the descendants of the intaglio ‘family’. As students of the master printmaker Chung Tai Fu, they have never settled for a single technique, but fluently switch back and forth between aquatint, mezzotint, and etching. In their contemplative works both artists tackle conceptual subject matter, such as time, body, and soul.


All 21 artists participating in the exhibition are dedicated to contributing to Hong Kong’s printmaking art scene. The artworks in this exhibition provide a rich ground for exploration of the aesthetic appeal and technical richness of fine art prints, and offer unique opportunities both for emerging and established collectors.