Back Issue__ Shawn Kuruneru

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May’s featured artist, Shawn Kuruneru, has been experimenting with DIY publishing for about 8 years. In his most recent work—a zine composed of a select body of ink drawings created between 2007 and 2009—Kuruneru brings together punks, 19th century bust sculptures, fragmented sleeping dogs and nostalgic portraiture. ‘It’s almost similar to the way a photo album tells a story with pictures. It documents time and your surroundings and the things around you that have influenced you,’ Kuruneru says.

Using offset printing, Kurueru’s 16 page paper zine is staple bound and only 500 were printed. He evokes a unified aesthetic by using ballpoint pen, ink and pencil creating a world that is both black and mysterious.

Why zines?

I’ve been making zines since high school. From fanzines for bands to semi documentary zines about Newmarket, Ontario where I’m from. For me it’s really just like spreading your ideas out on a table and getting a bit of clarity. Making a zine is simple--I’m not doing fucking Richard Serra, you know--anyone can make a zine.

What do you get out of it?

Putting my work in a zine is just another way of looking at the drawings. It’s a process of learning to see what you’re looking at, paying attention, with something that is not exactly ignorance but a kind of intuitive intelligence.

The drawings become something else in a zine context because all of a sudden the work is in one place and the printing aesthetics--whether it’s offset or Xeroxed or whatever-- changes the work. With this zine I wanted it to be straight forward and let the drawings speak for themselves. There’s potential for narrative, which is implied in the nature of the imagery, but it never actually evolves.

Where does the imagery in your zine come from? Why do you use ballpoint pen to draw?

From anywhere. From looking at lots of books at the library. From record covers, comics, photo albums, and news papers. I appropriate and re-appropriate a lot. I sort, group, neighbor, overlap, add and accumulate elements and then translate it all with my own visual language.

Using a ballpoint pen is very much a part of my visual language. It came naturally starting from drawing in note books at school. Since then it’s become my notion of textuality. A ballpoint pen is very cheap and everyone can understand what it is, I mean compared to gauche or oil paint or whatever. I’m interested in materials as text themselves.

When are you planning on making another zine?

I got the next one on the go. It’s going to have a more comic book-like format. I grew up reading comics. I learned how to draw from comics and I used to be a comic book artist for a small publishing company in British Columbia, Canada. So it just seems natural that my zines should have that comic book aesthetic and feel.

What are your favorite zines?

My friends make good zines like Katie Lyle, Jimmy Limit, Ryan Foerster, Jesse Harris, Niall McClelland, Amber Albrecht, Gillian Willson, Julian Muratori, Sean Orena, Asher Penn, Julia Kennedy, Robin Cameron, Davida Nemeroff and Matt Koudys

Most of them have websites you can find by googling them, and more often then not they will do zine trades if you e-mail them and some will even just mail you one for free.

Where’s your heart at?

In my zine.

Shawn Kuruneru’s zine is available at Printed Matter New York, NY, The Drawn & Quarterly Store, Montreal, Quebec, and Art Metropole Toronto, Ontario. He is currently working on curating Under the Influence, a drawing based group show in Brooklyn, New York.

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