What’s the basis of the magic behind Malleus’ art.

Jan Młodożeniec said once: “I hate collectors. They buy posters and hide them. A posters place is out in the street, where it lives, not in a collection”. Fortunately there are individuals who think differently. Malleus lives in collections.

Official sources say, that Malleus Rock Art Lab is a poster art collective stationed in Tortona. Collective run by three Italians, hiding under the pseudonyms – Urlo, Lu and Poia. The less official legend states that the Malleus trio are mysterious continuators of a mission, undertaken before centuries by three ancient magicians from a town called Grantorta, whose aim was to liberate the oppressed people from the yoke of fear, sorrow and darkness…

Whichever version we choose, there’s no doubt about one thing – Malleus are one of the most unusual creative conglomerates, in a world of rock posters dominated by Americans. All the works of the Italians are created in their characteristic, easily-recognizable style, which they describe as Dark Nouveau. The sources of their inspiration seem boundless. We can find a wide range of influences: Alfons Mucha, Klimt, Rick Griffin, Andrea Pazienza, Mike Mignola and so on; furthermore, a comic-book form of message, art of photography, cinema and literature. All these elements have one, permanently dominating, motive in common – the image of a woman, a figure, which constitutes the beginning of all.

Malleus create banners for the needs of various music events, social campaigns and films (e.g. a series of posters accompanying the pictures by Dario Argento). The Italians also produce illustrations and music release art work, book covers, comic books, wine labels and they even co-produce advertisements (Volvo). Currently, Malleus’ artistic activities includes mainly projects and hand-created silk-screen posters.

What does “silk-screen” stand for – the oldest copying technique? To put it in a nutshell, the silk-screen technique is based on distributing ink on paper via small holes punched in a piece of canvas, stretched over a frame (template). Ready to use templates are dried in a wooden stove. The paint is pushed through the template’s holes with a squeegee. Malleus don’t use any kind of fancy equipment nor other technical conveniences – the entire process is operated by hand. Computers are resorted to only in the initial phases of work on a specific drawing or painting – for selecting the colour pallet and colouring the background.

Posters created by the Malleus crew, are something more than just a carrier of information about that or another event in the world of culture. Each one is a poster masterpiece, hand-created from beginning to the end, numerated and  signed, produced on valuable Italian paper, in a strictly limited number, short series, very frequently sold out in moments – a few hours or days after they become available.

What’s the basis of the magic behind Malleus’ art? It is magic, poisoned ink or maybe paper soaked with some substances? It’s their carefully guarded secret, but watch out – become enticed once and you will be free no more.

Text: Małgorzata Napiórkowska-Kubicka