Printmaking as an expanding field in contemporary art practice : a case study of Japan, Australia and Thailand

Kirker, Marjorie Anne (2009) Printmaking as an expanding field in contemporary art practice : a case study of Japan, Australia and Thailand. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


This thesis proposes that contemporary printmaking, at its most significant, marks the present through reconstructing pasts and anticipating futures. It argues this through examples in the field, occurring in contexts beyond the Euramerican (Europe and North America). The arguments revolve around how the practice of a number of significant artists in Japan, Australia and Thailand has generated conceptual and formal innovations in printmaking that transcend local histories and conventions, whilst paradoxically, also building upon them and creating new meanings. The arguments do not portray the relations between contemporary and traditional art as necessarily antagonistic but rather, as productively dialectical.

Furthermore, the case studies demonstrate that, in the 1980s and 1990s particularly, the studio practice of these printmakers was informed by other visual arts disciplines and reflected postmodern concerns. Departures from convention witnessed in these countries within the Asia-Pacific region shifted the field of the print into a heterogeneous and hybrid realm. The practitioners concerned (especially in Thailand) produced work that was more readily equated with performance and installation art than with printmaking per se. In Japan, the incursion of photography interrupted the decorative cast of printmaking and delivered it from a straightforward, craft-based aesthetic. In Australia, fixed notions of national identity were challenged by print practitioners through deliberate cultural rapprochements and technical contradictions (speaking across old and new languages).However time-honoured print methods were not jettisoned by any case study artists. Their re-alignment of the fundamental attributes of printmaking, in line with materialist formalism, is a core consideration of my arguments.

The artists selected for in-depth analysis from these three countries are all innovators whose geographical circumstances and creative praxis drew on local traditions whilst absorbing international trends. In their radical revisionism, they acknowledged the specificity of history and place, conditions of contingency and forces of globalisation. The transformational nature of their work during the late twentieth century connects it to the postmodern ethos and to a broader artistic and cultural nexus than has hitherto been recognised in literature on the print. Emerging from former guild-based practices, they ambitiously conceived their work to be part of a continually evolving visual arts vocabulary.

I argue in this thesis that artists from the Asia-Pacific region have historically broken with the hermetic and Euramerican focus that has generally characterised the field. Inadequate documentation and access to print activity outside the dominant centres of critical discourse imply that readings of postmodernism have been too limited in their scope of inquiry. Other locations offer complexities of artistic practice where re-alignments of customary boundaries are often the norm. By addressing innovative activity in Japan, Australia and Thailand, this thesis exposes the need for a more inclusive theoretical framework and wider global reach than currently exists for ‘printmaking’.

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ID Code: 29746
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Pennings, Mark & Clark, John
Keywords: printmaking, contemporary art practice, Japan, Australia, Thailand
Divisions: Past > Disciplines > Art & Design
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 18 Jan 2010 02:18
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:54

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