Understand, Utilise, Uplift: 3 Southeast Asian Artists presented by Silverlens x ROH Projects, Jakarta

3 Southeast Asian artists stretch the possibilities of their materials and concepts.

Art Radar profiles three internationally-recognised Southeast Asian artists presented in an exhibition curated by Filipino artist Gary-Ross Pastrana in Jakarta. The works on show demonstrate a thorough understanding and exploration of materials, which has resulted in unconventional and cross-cultural forms.

Partial exhibition view of Silverlens Galleries and ROH Projects’ exhibition in Equity Tower 40E Jakarta (Indonesia). Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Partial exhibition view of Silverlens Galleries and ROH Projects’ exhibition in Equity Tower 40E Jakarta (Indonesia). Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Known to expand notions of contemporary art by representing established and emerging talents, Silverlens Galleries and ROH Projects have recently launched a group show at the Equity Tower 40E Jakarta (Indonesia) that includes the work of Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, Patricia Perez Eustaquio and Maria Taniguchi. On view until 28 August 2016, this collaborative exhibition does more than illustrate the similarities and contrasts that exist in Indonesian and Philippine contemporary art. More than anything, it rouses viewers by putting forward what other forms could result from familiar (if not, cliché) materials such as graphite, resin, acrylics and video clips, among others.

To further explore the show, Art Radar recently caught up with its curator, Gary-Ross Pastrana. A Silverlens Galleries represented artist himself, he puts into words what strikes him most about the three featured artists:

For Maria, it would be her unquestionably clear and specific understanding of modernism and (the reductive aspect of) abstraction. For Patricia, [it’s] her willingness to experiment and ability to articulate in any medium. Additionally, they are two of the smartest, most determined, and self-aware artists I know. For Arin, I was really interested in his method of extending, expanding the idea painting – how even a video projection could be seen as another layer, like a final glaze in the process of painting.

Like Maria Taniguchi’s paintings and the exhibition itself, the wall text, by being blackened, was stripped of its identity, making it almost untitled. By doing so, the exhibit invites countless meanings instead of imposing just one. Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Like Maria Taniguchi’s paintings and the exhibition itself, the wall text, by being blackened, was stripped of its identity, making it almost untitled. By doing so, the exhibit invites countless meanings instead of imposing just one. Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Asked if these were the same aspects that he wanted to highlight in the exhibition, the curator explains:

I wanted to hint on these aspects, but I was also careful not to impose any overarching theme that the artists would suddenly need to comply with. This may not seem to be the normal curatorial strategy but in the end I am still, primarily, an artist and I relate and identify with them as my peers – fellow artists, whom I trust and respect dearly. And so, while I had some works in mind and was in contact with them in the run-up to the show, I still allowed them to have the final say as to which ones would actually be part of the exhibition. In the end, I think it worked out well and actually, pretty close to what I originally had in mind.

Consisting of works on paper, paintings, a sculpture, mixed media and video pieces, the works in this Silverlens Galleries x ROH Projects show are perhaps best linked together by the artists’ dedication to their materials, approaches and concepts. Born in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a time when their countries were subject to military dictatorship – Suharto in Indonesia and Marcos in the Philippines – Sunaryo, Eustaquio and Taniguchi individually and collectively show that non-representational art can depict personal journeys, socio-political concerns and key issues in contemporary art.

Sunaryo, ‘Ashfall Video #2,’ 2016, volcanic ash, clear resin and video projection, 300 x 280 x 35 cm (diptych). Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Sunaryo, ‘Ashfall Video #2,’ 2016, volcanic ash, clear resin and video projection, 300 x 280 x 35 cm (diptych). Image courtesy ROH Projects.

1. Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo

Residing in Bandung, the ‘Paris of Java’, Indonesia, Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo (b.1978) is known for challenging the vocabulary of painting by integrating materials such as volcanic ash, photographic images and resin with pigments. After receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting from Bandung Institute of Technology in 2001, the Indonesian artist furthered his studies abroad and received a Master’s Degree in Fine Art from London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2005.

Tired of art depicting his home country’s political failures, Sunaryo chose non-Indonesian content, such as science fiction and Japanese manga, to fuel his art, resulting in unplanned abstract compositions that question the boundaries of painting and Indonesian identity. The son of celebrated painter Sunaryo Soetono, Sunaryo once tried to learn traditional Indonesian crafts, but decided to dedicate his practice to the utilisation of resin’s preservative and gestural qualities in two and three dimensional art.

Sunaryo, ‘Lagedu,’ 2016, pigmented resin, volcanic ash and digital print on wooden panel, 358 x 120 x 5 cm (diptych). Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Sunaryo, ‘Lagedu,’ 2016, pigmented resin, volcanic ash and digital print on wooden panel, 358 x 120 x 5 cm (diptych). Image courtesy ROH Projects.

The Indonesian artist’s experimental works have been exhibited in Europe, North America, notably in New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and across Southeast Asia. In 2015, Prudential Eye Awards nominated him as a finalist for Best Emerging Artist Using Painting. The ROH Projects-represented artist’s mastery of resin and venture into sculpture, video and new media are shown in this collaborative exhibition.

Eustaquio, ‘Untitled,’ 2016, silk, 200 x 136 cm. Image courtesy Silverlens Galleries.

Eustaquio, ‘Untitled,’ 2016, silk, 200 x 136 cm. Image courtesy Silverlens Galleries.

2. Patricia Perez Eustaquio

Based in Manila, Patricia Perez Eustaquio (b. 1977) is recognised for marrying conceptual art with crafts and various disciplines, resulting in pieces that merge multiple art forms and fields. Her all-inclusive yet scrupulous practice has merited her several prestigious awards, including the 13 Artists Award from the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Ateneo Art Award from the Ateneo University Manila, as well as residencies in Art Omi, New York and Stichting Id11, the Netherlands.

Having consistently put out unanticipated forms that challenge notions about art and its directions, Eustaquio’s work is no stranger to galleries outside the Philippines. She has had solo shows in New York and Taipei, and has participated in notable group exhibitions in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia. One of her site-specific installations is currently on view at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris until 11 September 2016. In addition, Eustaquio will be part of the Singapore Biennale, which will run from October 2016 to February 2017.

Eustaquio, ‘Let Us Build A Mountain I,’ 2016, graphite on paper (acid-free Hahnemühle), 110 x 120 cm. Image courtesy Silverlens Galleries.

Eustaquio, ‘Let Us Build A Mountain I,’ 2016, graphite on paper (acid-free Hahnemühle), 110 x 120 cm. Image courtesy Silverlens Galleries.

A Painting graduate of the University of the Philippines, Eustaquio’s work also extends to the fields of fashion, film and theatre. She won the Gawad Urian Award for Best in Production Design for Lav Diaz’s Ebolusyon Ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino in 2005.

Eustaquio’s graphite works on paper, which make use of leftovers from her past creative practice that are assembled, photographed and eventually translated to drawings, are featured in this Silverlens Galleries and ROH Projects group exhibition.

Installation view of Taniguchi’s 'Untitled brick paintings', 2016, acrylic on canvas, 228.6 x 114.3 cm each. Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Installation view of Taniguchi’s ‘Untitled brick paintings’, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 228.6 x 114.3 cm each. Image courtesy ROH Projects.

3. Maria Taniguchi

Last year’s winner of the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award for Emerging Asian Artists, Maria Taniguchi (b. 1981) was surrounded by sculptors growing up, but chose in her own work to mix sculpture with other art forms. Born and raised in Dumaguete, a major port city in the Philippines, she studied Sculpture at the University of the Philippines, and like the Indonesian artist Sunaryo, went to London to pursue further studies in art. In 2009, she earned an MFA in Art Practice at Goldsmiths, and today, her oeuvre is composed of sculpture, video, printmaking and painting.

 Taniguchi, ‘I See, It Feels,’ 2015, single-channel HD video, 07m:30s (no sound, 5th Edition). Image courtesy Silverlens Galleries.

Taniguchi, ‘I See, It Feels,’ 2015, single-channel HD video, 07m:30s (no sound, 5th Edition). Image courtesy Silverlens Galleries.

Taniguchi is commonly associated with very large black paintings of bricks, an ongoing series that she began in 2008. Here, the Filipino artist has brought it upon herself to cover towering canvases with tiny bricks, which she carefully paints one by one in black acrylic. Repetitive and laboursome, this series is said to comment on urban organisation and growth, while functioning as a regulator for her art and thinking process. Other awards that she has received are the 2011 and 2012 Ateneo Art Awards for two of her Manila-based solo exhibitions.

In this group show, Silverlens Galleries gives the public in Jakarta the opportunity to see two pieces from Taniguchi’s series of brick paintings, as well as an example of her video art. Prior to Jakarta, she has exhibited in London, Hong Kong, Karlsruhe, Milan and Los Angeles this year alone.

Sunaryo, ‘Scrap (Lagedu),’ 2016, pigmented resin on steel base, 48 x 57.5 x 48 x 144 cm. Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Sunaryo, ‘Scrap (Lagedu),’ 2016, pigmented resin on steel base, 48 x 57.5 x 48 x 144 cm. Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Barrier-breaking Collaborations

When asked what insights about Southeast Asian contemporary art and contemporary art in general would he like viewers to take away from this exhibition, the curator pointed out:

One possible take away is that, maybe, Southeast Asian contemporary art is contemporary art. If we examine the artists’ CVs, we would see that they have shown in contemporary art institutions everywhere from Berlin to New York, from Tokyo to London. I believe they present their works without prejudice to the setting, and so perhaps we can also forego the local, regional and international distinction.

But in general, I would love for the audience to see this as a beginning of a sustained dialogue between the two countries. We’ve already started talking about possible projects next year, which is quite exciting. Hopefully, we can bring some of ROH artists for a show at Silverlens as well very soon. I see this as a welcome opportunity to learn more about each other, as we are so close, geographically, and in my experience, physically indistinguishable.

Javelyn Ramos

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Related Topics: Southeast Asian artists, Indonesian artists, Filipino artists, painting, sculpture, video, gallery shows, events in Jakarta

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