Ian Malhotra

My work explores the transmission and translation of visual information, often mimicking digital
methods of reproduction through labour intensive analogue processes. The imagery I work with is
natural elements in constant flux; skies, mountains, oceans and moving landscapes. These are chosen
not just for their unsuitability to simulation through the binary nature of digital reproduction, but also
the importance of this subject matter in the history of picture making. By re-interpreting this imagery
by hand through a variety of self-designed drawing and etching systems, I aim to question how we
receive and use images of nature today.

These three etchings combine the traditional printmaking technique of hard ground copper-plate
etching with computer generated imagery. The ‘Untitled’ series depicts various landscapes drawn
from video games, composed of thousands of binary ink lines on black paper. The choice of copper
plate etching is a reference to the historical precedent of both the direct production of landscape
imagery and the reproduction of other landscape paintings within this intaglio format. Printmakers
such as Hogarth or painters like Friedrich and Turner produced countless painted and printed
landscapes to represent spiritually important scenes or vistas experienced while travelling.
However, these scenes were never physically travelled to. Instead, the vistas that inform these prints
were experienced virtually through video games, CGI composites or terrain modelling software. My
etchings invert the historical precedent: affording the same romantic ideals to territory that never
Flourish Award for Excellence in Printmaking 2024 – Call for Submissions / Ian Malhotra / 2
existed in the physical world. To further subvert this established language, I reversed the typical tonal
construction of etchings from this period by using lighter inks on black paper – a nod to the function of
the light on a black screen that underpins the relentless digital images we see today.
While previous etchings within this series used white ink, for these editions I have mixed my own inks
to achieve the metallic gold ink of Untitled (Eastern Plateau) and the metallic silvery white ink of
Untitled (Shore Leave) and Untitled (Fine Wind, Clouded Mountain). These colour choices are informed
by the traditional Indian craft of Bidri work, which uses iridescent silver and gold inlays hammered
into mold-cast brass vessels, then dipped in an acid mix to blacken the brass while leaving the inlays
reflective and unaffected. Both Bidri and etching have strangely parallel processes within their
metalwork based crafts, despite evolving over hundreds of years and thousands of miles apart. By
combining both of these two historical crafts with contemporary imagery, I wanted to further push the
tension between current landscape representation and consumption, while nodding to my own mix of
European / Indian heritage and varied understanding of landscape depicted in artwork growing up.