Indonesian art is hot at the moment as collectors worldwide discover its variety, spirituality and depth. Arianne Levene, a leading global curator of Asian art, presents her four favourite Indonesian artists.
Agus Suwage is one of Indonesia’s most influential artists. I first came across his work in 2008 at the Shanghai Art Fair where he presented an impressive installation of 50 watercolour depictions of major 20th century artists. This particular work, portraits of our most controversial and challenging conceptual and performance artists, excited me not just for the artist’s exceptional drawing skills, but for his almost encyclopedic knowledge of and interest in art history. The work is a homage to those who have most informed Suwage’s practice (Marcel Duchamp, Nan Goldin, Sarah Lucas); its quotations of iconic and transgressive poses create a tissue of visual rhythms, presenting the body as a site of influence.
Eko Nugroho is a key figure in the contemporary Indonesian art scene. His unique visceral visual language, which borrows from comic books, a combination of traditional Indonesian folk art, western painting and urban art, allows him to communicate serious political messages to both his contemporaries and to the younger generation. The hybrid characters in his art populate a mysterious universe, one which is disconnected to the rapidly changing nature of the world, dominated by social and political injustices around us. Nogroho’s multidisciplinary approach, which includes murals, paintings, sculptures, drawings and embroidery, add to his universal appeal whilst highlighting his creative talent.
Ariadhitya Pramuhendra is rapidly making a name for himself as an artist to watch in Indonesia. His large-scale black and white charcoal portraits capture the viewer with their striking beauty and powerful spiritual undertone. As a Catholic in a predominantly Muslim country, Pramuhendra is continuously driven to question his own identity. I am particularly fascinated by his daring decision to revisit figurative painting, reviving the tradition of western selfportraiture as well as Christian iconography by repeatedly depicting himself in a position of authority. His most recent works search for the truth and divine in man by raising thought provoking questions regarding the legitimacy of universally accepted organisations, such as established ‘state’ religions and medical institutions.
I Nyoman Masriadi
Arguably the most well-known of the contemporary artists working in Indonesia today, Nymon Masriardi’s razor sharp observations of Indonesia’s male dominated society and, more precisely, its art world, are both highly entertaining and superbly executed. Superhero’s, boxers, footballers, athletes and men at work are characters that appear again and again in the artist’s theatre of the absurd and serve as both his alter ego and his contemporaries. Whilst his style has evolved tremendously in the last ten years from a more cubist inspired caricatural figuration to a comical realism, there remains a definite artistic stamp thanks to his signature black skinned figures.
Arianne Levene, Founder of New Art World. newartworld.co.uk