INDONESIAN CONTEMPORARY ART GALLERY SHOWS
Jumaldi Alfi’s exhibition “Life/Art # 101: Never Ending Lessons” was presented by Valentine Willie Fine Art (VWFA) and was displayed in the Annexe Gallery, Kuala Lumpur in October this year. The exhibition includes nine “blackboard” paintings, an installation of a skeleton on a wooden boat and a video.
Jumaldi Alfi was born in Lintau, West Sumatra in 1973 and studied in Java at the Indonesian High School of the Arts and then the Indonesian Institute of Arts in Jogja. As he was growing up, he spent seven years of his childhood in Java and grew very attached to the island. He and his family then had to move back to West Sumatra where his parents insisted that he complete junior high school.
Alfi’s homesickness for Java and disruptions in his family life made him alienated and bookish. As he was growing older, he learned more about his home province’s grim history. He began to understand the violence that West Sumatra and its inhabitants have been through. Further, his family circumstances became clearer as he grew more sympathetic to his parents. He realised that they had to fight prejudice, poverty and tragedy as they tried to raise their nine children.
Later he used art, his profession, as a tool to begin reclaiming and celebrating his culture. His work is affected by his heritage – a West Sumatran-born artist with Minangkabau identity, underscored by a childhood spent in Java – and by the creative and intellectual setting of Jogjakarta, which is for him a mini version of Indonesia. In the past ten years, his work has shown alterations in themes and styles reflecting the various issues troubling his mind.
In his new series, Jumaldi Alfi evokes the proverb “experience is the best teacher” where experience is demonstrated as a verb, the actions of the artist as he recalls them. Hence, the life he lived and experienced later re-appears as random sequences in his work, the so-called woven memories that are constantly being constructed. Furthermore, this exhibition reflects Alfi’s fascination with work of post-War German artists such as Anselm Kiefer and Martin Kippenberger as they explore bitter national and personal themes about German militarism.
The words and sentences he uses in the presented work are borrowed from these and other artists, including the music group Pink Floyd, that Alfi admires. He uses these quotes as a playful word association game as they connect with his personal experiences. The shifts and ruptures in the original meaning of the quotes are created by Alfi as he casually erases some letters or blurs a certain word. This is done deliberately to steer the reading of the series.
However, people who followed Alfi’s work over the years might be surprised by the exhibition as it appears uncluttered and clean-lined. It can be seen as a total break from his previous densely-worked, expressionist paintings. In his past work he was happy with incoherent and indistinct scribbling. By using the quotes, Alfi’s new work verges on the poetic, embedding the words within his own, far less decorative style, while still maintaining underlying connections with his earlier work.
- Pop culture references abound in Indonesian art: curator Eva McGovern discusses Indieguerillas’ Happy Victims and the Southeast Asian art climate – June 2010 – an insightful interview with an Indonesian art professional
- Nindityo Adipurnomo talks with Art Radar on “+Road” collaboration with Myanmar artists, “gambling spirit” of Indonesian collectors – July 2010 – the fascinating story of Cemeti’s latest collaborative venture
- What is Indonesian style? Jumaldi Alfi on the art, style and Jogja – interview – November 2009 – this early interview with Art Radar introduces the artist and his work
- Sin Sin, Hong Kong gallerist and Indonesian art specialist, on recently flourishing Indonesian art scene – interview – September 2009 – hear from the reigning queen of Indonesian art in Hong Kong
- Overview Indonesian art – Only 5 of 50 auctionable artists today will have lasting value – March 2009 – a long one! Save it for lunch-time! – informative reportage piece written in 2008 is about the history of Indonesian contemporary art