Eng Joo Heng is a Singaporean printmaker who travelled to Paris to learn more about printmaking at Stanley William Hayter’s famous Atelier 17. British-born Hayter was a former chemist responsible for revolutionising printmaking techniques that supported multi-colour prints and new collaborative processes. As a lecturer in printmaking at NAFA between 1991 and 2003, Eng nurtured his passion for making prints in innovative ways and taught numerous art students.
The artist-proof work for Rambutan derives from part of the commission for art showcased in the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations around Singapore. In his series of artworks for Serangoon MRT Station, Eng created Memories of Childhood, showing various local landscapes and activities featuring children. The iconography for Rambutan is similar, showing a single-panel image of a child looking up at a rambutan tree, who appears to be climbing or dancing. This print plate comes from the reduction linocut technique, where lighter areas are carved and inked, then the darker areas are carved and inked at each ink and pull, creating a fuller image than before. Although linocut is a simple medium and technique, understanding how to layer colours and mix tones with the registration of the contours is essential. This demonstration attests to Eng’s solid foundation of understanding relief methods and layering in block printing for multi-print colours.