Artist Interview: Joseph Chiang (Singapore)

Tell us more about your home-based print studio, Monster Gallery.

I set up Monster Gallery in my kitchen when I left my day job ten years ago to produce and sell my own prints. I used to work from a rented studio, where I also conducted printmaking workshops, but settled back home recently when I decided to cut back from workshops to focus more on my personal art practice.

How do you think contemporary printmaking has evolved from its rich history?

Printmaking has surely come a long way from its humble beginning as a traditional craft. As a primarily technique-based art form, it is always evolving with emerging technologies. Possibilities are opened up as these new technologies and techniques merge with the traditional craft of printmaking, resulting in fresh, interesting ideas and conceptual practices.

What are your thoughts on the printmaking scene in Singapore?

I can see a renewed interest in printmaking, especially amongst the younger generation. I’ve seen interesting print works by some of the young and emerging artists. It’s an exciting time to be a printmaker here, as there are more opportunities and better support than before.

Tell us more about the Young Printmakers League programme that you have been mentoring.

The Young Printmakers League was borne out of the idea to make printmaking more fun and exciting as a contemporary art form. The idea of a youth mentoring programme was pitched to Noise Singapore, and they agreed to support it. The students first go through a series of basic printmaking workshops before working on a personal project. The programme ends with a showcase in a gallery.

To date, I’ve run two batches with a total of 20 students. The participants were selected from diverse backgrounds, so they could all learn from one another. I’ve learnt from them as much as they have learnt from the programme. I enjoyed guiding them along and seeing them develop their ideas from concept to execution. It was heartening to see how far some of them were willing to push the limits of printmaking – I remember one of the students exploring the idea of making silkscreen prints on the body, while another used her tears as a medium to make her prints as she mourned for her late grandmother.

While some of them have gone on with their own practice, the group would come together to exhibit whenever opportunities arise.

Is there a reason behind the monochromatic choice of colours for your series?

I decided on a monochromatic scheme to bring out the contrast in the works, especially so with the shadows cast from the 3-D reliefs. Having these in black and white also gives them a nostalgic feel, as if one were encountering old photographs.