Formally, printmaking is defined as the process of creating artworks by printing on paper. However, it is impossible to constitute printmaking to that single mode of production in our contemporary landscape. Print artists, with the advancement of technology, have expanded the genre to include not only lithographs, monotypes and screenprinting but also that of mixed media, digital, and Giclée prints.
Printmaking has existed for hundreds of years from the epochs of Rembrandt to Hokusai and continues to grow in commercial ways as seen in galleries and auction houses across the art market today. Here, The Artling brings you these top Asian print artists who continue to shape the genre:
I Do Not Know. I Know. by Takashi Murakami, Offset lithograph with cold stamp and high gloss varnishing, UV spot.
Available on The Artling
From imageries of skulls to eclectic “jellyfish eyes”, to his iconic flowers, Takashi Murakami needs no introduction to the world of Print. Teetering on the line between fine and commercial art, Murakami’s ‘Superflat’ aesthetic has taken over the world of Pop.
Whilst his practice spans multiple mediums, Murakami continues to shape the genre of Print through visual re-interpretations of post-war Japan. He goes the step further to not only influence the genre of Print through his works but also through the works of others. He is the founder of Kaikai Kiki Co. Ltd, an art production company that represents young artists across an array of genres, providing them with a platform that has gained them international exposure.
Building Head / Palm Trees Print by Chiho Aoshima, Offset Lithograph. Image courtesy of We Vux
Chiho Aoshima hails from Tokyo, Japan, and her works are motivated by perspectives of the ‘Superflat’ art movement as manufactured by Takashi Murakami. Following the themes of manga and anime, Aoshima’s influences also go further back to include aesthetics of seminal Japanese woodblock artist and painter Hokusai, who is most famous for his work ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’. Aoshima is a self-taught artist and her works use Adobe Illustrator to create surrealist landscapes with imageries of cruel catastrophic scenes, yet they include that of young girls and cute animals. Like Murakami, she demonstrates a strong footing of natural and synthetic worlds through her practice, and says that in the end, even dark and disturbing landscapes “should be cute”.
Home is a Foreign Place by Zarina. Portfolio of 36 woodcuts with letterpress additions, mounted on paper, composition. Image courtesy of MoMA
Molded by her identity as a Muslim-born Indian Woman, Zarina’s works are influenced by the Minimalist movement and deploy geometric forms. She seeks to invoke spiritual reactions from her viewers through her ideas of movement, diaspora, and exile, whilst instigating the notion of home as a fluid space that transcends its physical location. Her exhibition at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU’s Gallery in 2018 delved into themes of displacement and devastation caused by Partition and violence across the world, from New York to India. She impressively, through her woodcuts on paper, encourages us to question the possibility of global ethics in a time of interconnectedness through media, knowledge circulation, and war.
A Book From The Sky by Xu Bing. Image courtesy of Blanton Museum of Fine Art.
One of the most prominent Chinese artists today, Xu Bing makes this list through sheer determination in his practice - in Book from the Sky (1987 -1991), he constructed 4 hand-printed books as well as wall and ceiling scrolls filled with pseudo-Chinese characters that he made up. Xu Bing does not understand a single character himself, and this work serves a commentary of how language can engage viewers beyond its original context. Printed from wood letterpress type and with ink on paper, this installation has spanned across behemoth spaces in institutions internationally. Following this work, we recognize how Xu Bing’s works use traditional Chinese methods to create political and philosophical statements.
Xu Bing graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts with a degree in printmaking and has since created large and elaborate installations. He has exhibited at the 45th and 51st Venice Biennales, and his contributions to the art world have been widely acknowledged.
In Transit by Abdulnasser Gharem, Silkscreen with Diamond Dust. Image courtesy of the artist.
Abdulnasser Gharem has been cited as the most significant conceptual Saudi Arabian artist of his generation. Whilst his practice is interdisciplinary, it is through his prints that we recognize his distinct attachment and commentary of Islamic art and architecture. In his work ‘ In Transit’, Gharem layers an image of an airplane with geometric patterns, and inserts fragmented quotes in English and Arabic to tying his practice to robust themes of contemporary politics.
He frequently, through his silkscreen prints, seeks to contrast notions between war and religion through illusions. He has also initiated Gharem Studio. Whilst this began as a working space for Gharem, it slowly attracted like-minded creatives, instigating the first new wave of a Saudi art initiative. Gharem has exhibited at Martin Gropius-Bau, LACMA museum, British Museum, V&A museum, and the Venice, Sharjah and Berlin Biennales, all whilst serving as Lieutenant Colonial in the Saudi Arabian Army.
Xianglong by Shao Yinong & Muchen, 2004, C-print. Image courtesy of Yavuz Gallery.
This husband and wife duo have been collaborating since 2000. Like many artists of their generation, their works highlight the social and political impacts caused by the upheavals of the recent rapid economic, political and social change occurring in China. They seek to uncover through their works the “false dichotomies that exist in reality and representation; truth and nostalgia”, whilst examining the processes of memory.
Shao Yinong and Muchen do this through the documentation of an alternative Chinese history. The ‘Assembly Hall’ series, started in 2001, includes images of over 220 derelict halls across China, where several decades of revolutionary reform took place.
Litchenstein vs Lichtenstein by Alex Guofeng Cao, Chromogenic Print with Dibond Plexiglass. Image courtesy of the artist.
Alex Guofeng Cao was influenced by masters such as Irving Penn and Robert Mapplethorpe, although his oeuvre has evolved into so much more. His iconic collages are constructed with that of icons - an image of Marilyn is made up of tiny Mona Lisas, and his portrait of Barack Obama is constructed with thousands of Abraham Lincolns.
His aim is to highlight the ways in which we view process imagery, and how we have the capacity to understand new pictures with preceding contexts.
MARCH TO GOOD by Tal R, 2011, Woodcut & Etching. Image of courtesy Cheim & Read.
Tal R is deeply familiar with the art of printmaking and constantly seeks to explore contemporary ways in which he can challenge the medium. One of his preferred techniques, the Reduction Cut, allows him to create a multi-colored image from only one plate by carving out the motif layer by layer, resulting in vibrant prints full of Tal R’s characteristic vitality and playfulness.
Born in Israel, Tal R currently lives and works in Denmark. He is inspired by his journeys around the world, as well as themes of everyday life and pop culture. His practice involves a unique process where he samples materials from his own immense archive, recycling imageries to create new works.
City of Failure by Qiu Zhijie, Lithography printed on STPI handmade paper with screen printed acrylic sheet. Image courtesy of STPI Gallery.
Qiu Zhijie is infamous for arduously copying a 4th-Century calligraphy work over 4000 times in seven years on a single sheet of paper. However, his text and calligraphy-based practice, presented as prints, have established themselves in the canon of Chinese contemporary art.
At his graduation show in 1992, Qiu presented a maze-like installation consisting of silk prints on towering glass panels. With a background in printmaking, Qiu imposes himself as the protagonist in his works. In the ‘Tattoo’ series, he painted words and patterns on his body to highlight struggles of self-assertion whilst in reference to Chinese history, adding provocative nuances to traditional calligraphy.
Storm Resurrection I by John Young, 2016, Digital Pring & Oil on Linen. Image courtesy of Pearl Lam Galleries.
John Young’s signature print works are fused with oil painting techniques. Using his “human-computer friendship” method, his practice engages with the medium of painting in our ever-evolving landscape of photography. His ‘Veils’ series notes strong influences from Colour Field painters Mark Rothko and Morris Louis. Here, his photo-paintings are delineated through the encounter of East and West. Colors that overlap on his digitized images are transformed on linen, giving his images a tactile density through the layering of paint.
This technological convergence with that of traditional modes of oil painting exposes the ways in which the medium of print is evolving through different modes of production. These digital print and oil on linen works have seen the walls of institutions internationally, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and museums and institutions in North America, Europe, North, and Southeast Asia.
We hope you enjoyed reading our list of famous Asian print artists. Do check out our curated prints collection from leading Asian contemporary artists.
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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