If you are into vivid colours, whimsical illustrations and quirky tales, look no further. Just step into The Back Room KL art space at the Zhongshan building in Kuala Lumpur to experience a smartly curated exhibit of prints and handmade art books.
In Books And Prints: A Show By Knuckles And Notch And Raksasa Print, two indie art studios/publishers have come together to showcase their works.
Raksasa Print Studio co-founder Jane Stephanny says the idea for this exhibition came from a chat she had with gallerist Liza Ho, who runs The Back Room KL, a new independent art gallery.
“We talked about how we wanted to make a show for this new space. And we thought of doing a books and print show, because there haven’t been many art book-type shows in KL, ever. So I called up our friends Knuckles And Notch, who we have known for a long time. We both do art books. We thought, why not do a show together?” says Stephanny, 30, a graduate of School of Visual Arts, New York and LaSalle College of the Arts, Singapore.
Stephanny, who has a passion for printmaking, especially etching, had a solo exhibition titled Mom, That Cat Looks Weird! last December.
In this Books And Prints show, The Back Room KL is divided into two sections: the left features accordion books and prints by KL-based Raksasa Print Studio on the wall and a table, while the right features works by Singaporean outfit Knuckles And Notch.
The exhibit, despite its modest scale, has 50 artworks priced between RM100 and RM1,200 (a set of prints). The affordability factor here is undeniable.
For newcomers, an accordion book is composed of a continuous folded sheet of paper and is often enclosed between two covers. They seem to be a specialty format from Raksaksa Print Studio, notably with a handful of impressive accordion books on display.
“This is the first time I’m showcasing books and prints and working with silkscreen and risograph artists,” says Ho, who was the co-founder of the Our ArtProjects gallery.
“We don’t show enough of handmade books and prints, which is also a form of art. The Back Room hopes to position itself as a readily accessible platform for such projects,” she adds.
In this exhibition, both studios have created new works and limited editions, which cannot be found anywhere else.
Knuckles And Notch is a risograph publishing and print studio based in the art-centred Kampong Glam area in Singapore.
It comprises artist duo Djohan Hanapi and Marilyn Yunjin. The studio is known for its offbeat works, featuring bright colours and generous doses of morbid humour. This show is the first time its works are being showcased in Malaysia.
Risograph printing, aka Riso, bridges the gap between a conventional photocopier and laser printer. It is a simple yet imaginative tool for artists interested in producing high quality prints on a shoestring budget.
Many of Knuckles And Notch works in this exhibition are lush, pop art-inspired pieces done with panels like comic strips.
The studio’s founders, who discovered risograph printing in New York, started in 2014. It operates on various platforms, inclusive of publications, fanzines, posters, books, art prints and events.
Raksasa Print Studio is an artist-run KL-based studio that focuses on creating art prints, zines, books and other unique content.
Founded in 2012 by Stephanny and Julienne Mei Tan, it also specialises in silkscreen printing workshops and community printing events. Other members in the collective are Ichie Imran, Jolene Tew and Pieter de Richter.
A new Raksaksa Print work featured in this show is Kampung Ayam, a series depicting scenes in a village in Sarawak. The silkscreen accordion book, made by Stephanny, was inspired by the colourful and vibrant houses she saw when visiting her father’s hometown.
“The show is for anyone who loves illustration and printmaking, or are curious about it,” says Stephanny.
“This is the perfect showcase for what we can do with it. Both Knuckles and Notch and us, we just really love the art of printmaking and want to share it with everyone,” she concludes.