Art Radar features some highlights at the 4th Jakarta Contemporary Ceramics Biennale.
Running until 22 January 2016, the fourth edition of JCCB presents 43 artists from countries worldwide who are using the age-old medium of ceramics to produce experimental and contemporary works of art.
Launched on 7 December 2016, the 4th Jakarta Contemporary Ceramics Biennale (JCCB) is directed by Indonesian curator Rifky Effendi, with the artistic direction of Asmujo J. Irianto, and runs until 22 January 2017.
Themed “Ways of Clay: Perspectives Toward the Future”, JCCB#4 features 43 artists from 23 countries around the globe and aims to “interpret history as a perspective that we can use to understand future ceramic art practices”. The Biennale does not merely look at ceramic art history as a discipline, but rather it explores the history of clay and ceramic media usage within the wider scope of art practice. Ceramics and clay are thus considered outside their categorical boundaries – or as the organisers call them, “burdens” – by seeing how the media are employed by artists from diverse backgrounds and a variety of artistic practices.
JCCB looks at how artists’ concepts and ideas connect to their diverse expressions, engaging with their individual perspectives on the medium of clay and ceramics and how these influence and determine their creative process. The organisers expand on the concept of the JCCB thus:
“Status” describes the condition and state of ceramic art practice, while also reflecting a political meaning, especially in the context of art history, theory, and discourse. Interestingly, ceramic art practice has always embodied a paradox on many levels—either as material, media or object. For instance, the ephemeral-permanent paradox of clay and ceramics; the rural-cosmopolitan between ceramic craft and ceramic design; exclusivity vs. mass production between hand- or traditional-craft and industrial products.
For this edition, JCCB has also introduced a new element: an artist residency programme that saw the participation by open call of 20 international artists for a month between August and November 2016. The residencies took place simultaneously at different locations across Indonesia, allowing artists to interact with local situations, both socially and culturally. Some of them worked in ceramics villages, while others in artists’ studios, ceramic schools and ceramics factories.
According to JCCB, the new residency programme has brought an added value to the Biennale, in that it has allowed for a stronger engagement between artists and local communities thus inspiring works that provoke a sense of deeper connection between them. In addition,
this model can help activate and enrich the ceramic art ecology by connecting artists with art education institutions, individual ceramics studios, industrial-scale ceramics factories, traditional ceramics producers, and ceramics community.
Art Radar looks at 11 artists and their works at this year’s ceramics biennale.
1. Agugn Prabowo (Indonesia)
Agugn Prabowo, also known only as Agugn, is a young Indonesian artist who trained in printmaking, the medium he primarily works with. His oeuvre consists of two-dimensional compositions that transcend personal narratives, and contain layers of complex symbolism expressed in colours. In 2012, his work Nirbaya Jagratara won him the premier award at the Competition of The 4th Indonesian Printmaking Triennale.
His two pieces on show at JCCB are the result of a challenging ‘translation’ between different media – namely, from printmaking to ceramics. Agugn has shifted from his familiar two-dimensional tableaux to the three-dimensional, sculptural form. The outcome is represented by two vessel-like objects with a base wooden brown colour – as if they were the paper – onto which the artist has applied colourful symbols in clay, as if drawn onto his prints.
2. Eddie Prabandono (Indonesia)
Now based between Yogyakarta in Indonesia and Okinawa in Japan, Eddie Prabandono was born in Pati, Central Java, and studied at the Institute of Art (ISI) Yogyakarta. With particular attention to calculations, Prabandono creates large-scale sculptural works that combine elements of design, planning and construction. As JCCB points out, his sculptures are not merely structural, but also incorporate “an evolution of languages of expression”, using found, industrial and everyday objects and materials in varying states, from manipulated to organic.
His monumental work from the “Luz Series”, which depicts a 25-tonne clay sculpture of his daughter’s head, was commissioned for ART / JOG 11. At JCCB, Prabandono presents Greedy, a multimedia installation comprising a chair on top of which lies a pile of ceramic dining plates with plants (paddy). The work can be seen as giving subtle messages about domesticity and consumption, pointing to the excesses of today’s consumerist society.
3. Eddie Hara (Switzerland/Indonesia)
Having lived for more than 20 years in Switzerland, Eddie Hara‘s work merges elements of his native Indonesian culture with European influences with an interest in global popular culture. Hara also bridges low and high art, blurring the boundaries between art and craft, and bringing into play elements of urban and street aesthetic. The low-brow visuality of his most well-known works express “wild pop”, rejecting a central point of view or narrative, and featuring familiar images through naive drawings, comic book-like figures and street art.
Hara participated in the JCCB#4 residency programme in Kandura Studio, Bandung, between September and October 2016. For the Biennale, he produced lightly coloured three-dimensional simple shapes, which reflect the signature style of Kandura Studio. The objects, which include anthropomorphic rabbit busts on skateboard and pins hanging from the ceiling, are decorated with Hara’s pop images and text, from stylised rabbit and human faces, to graphic decorations. Some of the phrases on the objects read “Intellectualism sucks” and “Low High Art” with the word “high” crossed out.
4. Gita Winata (Indonesia)
Gita Winata graduated with a BFA from the ceramics craft department at Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), where he also pursued an MFA degree and where he currently teaches. In 2015, he graduated from the doctoral programme at Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts, Japan, with a research entitled “Vessel and Tradition in Ceramic Art.”
Having focused on ceramic art throughout his entire career, Winata creates works that combine his specific and advanced comprehension of the material, whilst also drawing from traditional ceramics materials and practice. His sculptural works are shaped and finished in a precise and complex hand building technique, and are the expression of an advanced exploration of the medium. His work Continuity at JCCB#4 features fluid shapes that imitate organic forms, coloured dark brown as if made of burnished metal. Winata also used two types of clay, which are the expression of his duplicitous training in Indonesia and Japan: Japanese Bizenyama clay and Indonesian Plered clay.
5. Kyoko Uchida (Japan)
Kyoko Uchida lives and works in Yokkaichi, Mie prefecture, Japan. Uchida creates works that push the boundaries of ceramics making, by drawing from traditional techniques and ancient aesthetics. Inspired by the vessels made in the Yayoi period of prehistoric Japan as well as ancient Jordan, she creates her works using the age-old method of coiling. Coiling is time consuming and requires prolonged labour, but allows the artist to exercise full control over the clay she works with – the local Shigaraki kind.
By using coiling, Uchida is also able to create shapes and forms with a primordial silhouette, appearing like prehistoric statuettes. For JCCB, she made a series of nine white figures under the title of “In My Room”, featuring anthropomorphic figurines in a variety of positions, from seated to lying down, arranged in an installation that includes the floor painted white as if the wall paint had leaked down forming a puddle.
6. Panca DZ (Indonesia)
Young Indonesian Panca DZ trained in product design at the Bandung Institute of Technology. His interest lies in the history of tattoo art, and particularly the Indonesian tradition, within which he focuses on the research about criminalisation tattoos. Since 2010, Panca has been involved in social programmes with Ruman Cemara, a non-profit organisation focusing on HIV and drugs related issues.
In his research into the tattoo language of criminal clans, Panca collects the dark visuals that constitute the symbolism and story behind the individuals ‘wearing’ them and their environments of deprivation. Panca is fascinated by “how tattoos and social engagement could reflect the beauty of surviving the world”. Among his works on show is God of War, a series of ceramic skulls decorated with tattoo designs.
7. Ryota Shioya (Japan)
Ryota Shioya (b. 1978) uses ceramics to create abstract works that interfere and are in dialogue with public spaces. Although his installations do not signify anything in particular, they resonate in their existence in public, emphasising the everyday by bringing attention to overlooked everyday gestures.
Shioya participated in the JCCB residency at ISBI-Bandung in August and September 2016, supported by the Japan Foundation’s Asia Center. During the residency, he took up again his HitoTema project, which he has been installing in various places since 2011. For the series, Shioya creates “artifactual records” of handshakes, cast by placing clay between the two hands in contact during the hand shaking gesture between two individuals in a public place. He collects huge numbers of such casts and presents them in installations, such as the one at JCCB, where the casts are placed in a half-circle against the wall. The handshakes become a representation of the trades and reciprocations that we make as humans, as JCCB explains.
8. Soe Yu Nwe (Myanmar)
Soe Yu Nwe (b. 1989) was born in Myanmar and currently lives and works in Albion, Michigan, in the United States. She graduated with a BFA from Albion College, and recently received an MFA in Ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Yu Nwe’s works reflect her cross-cultural experience as an individual of Chinese descent in Myanmar moving to live in the US. This spectrum of identity becomes central in her oeuvre, in which she portrays it as “an entity of fluid, fragile, and fragmented qualities”.
Her work represents then an emotional landscape, which utilises depictions of elements taken from nature and human body parts as interconnected, such as in one of the works on show at JCCB, where two hands touching each other are linked to other elements with a chain. Soe Yu Nwe took part in the JCCB#4 residency programme at Arskala Principle Studio, Yogyakarta, in November 2016.
9. Uji “Hahan” Handoko (Indonesia)
Uji “Hahan” Handoko (b. 1983) holds an MFA from the Faculty of Fine Arts and Design, Indonesia Institute of Arts, Yogyakarta, the city where he is based. His work is deeply rooted in the contemporary world of art of Indonesia and he is known especially for his use of popular visual culture.
Hahan blurs the boundaries of high and low art, realism and decoration, illustrating through his colourful, street pop aesthetic a world that hangs between urbanisation and agrarianism, the East and the West, and the local and the global.
Hahan incorporates influences and inspiration from film, music and street culture, utilising a distinct visual language with bold colours and cartoonish creatures. For JCCB, Hahan has created a series of ceramic figurines that recall Japanese cartoons or superheroes, randomly splashed with paint. Hahan did his Residency program in Sango Ceramics, Semarang, in October 2016.
10. Alice Couttoupes (Australia)
Sydney-based artist Alice Couttoupes (b. 1989) works primarily in ceramics, and is interested in the physicality of working with clay. Her work tests the limits of the material and is the result of a constant experimentation. She is interested in ideas surrounding national memory, history and identity within the Australian context, and how language and symbols work to shape and bond groups within societies.
The artist has a deep fascination with the natural world, and particularly the botanical one. In her oeuvre, she explores the processes of colonial botany and its enduring consequences on the socio-political and environmental spheres. At JCCB, her works are delicate tableaux in the form of plates with a circular blue background within which Couttoupes sets bouquets of ceramic flowers, recalling traditional blue and white Chinese porcelain, and especially the export kind, which merged Eastern techniques and styles with Western decorative patterns and shapes.
11. Richard Streitmatter-Tran (Vietnam)
Now based in Ho Chi Minh City, Richard Streitmatter-Tran (b. 1972, Bien Hoa, Vietnam) studied Interrelated Media at the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston. He was a lecturer and researcher in institutions such as MIT Media Lab, Harvard University and RMIT International Universities, Vietnam. Streitmatter-Tran established DIA/Projects in 2010, a contemporary art experiment and studio project in Ho Chi Minh City. He has exhibited internationally at important events and venues, such as Singapore Biennale, Asia-Pacific Triennial and Palais de Tokyo among others.
Streittmatter-Tran’s work shifts from a central concern with the conceptual to a focus on the materiality of the medium he works with. In both cases, his work is founded on solid research and experimentation, and his exploration of diverse media marks a return to a more traditional craftmanship-focused studio practice. One of his favoured materials is clay, which he models into different shapes and forms, some from everyday objects, such as Leather Hard at JCCB, a reproduction of a leather bag. Leather hard is a term in ceramics when the clay has lost enough water through evaporation to have the feel and touch of leather. The artist thus experiments with clay to mimic the touch and properties of another material (leather). On show at JCCB, Streittmatter-Tran also has the Waq Waq Tree, V2, Origin of the World and Still Life, inspired by the Dutch traditional still life paintings and created during his residency programme in ISBI-Bandung and FSRD-ITB, in September 2016.
C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia
- “An Atlas of Mirrors”: 10 highlights from Singapore Biennale 2016 – November 2016 – Art Radar highlights 10 artists and their work at the fifth edition of the Singapore Biennale 2016
- Inaugural Art Stage Jakarta shows the best of Indonesian art – round-up – August 2016 – Art Radar rounds up key highlights from Indonesia’s first boutique art fair of international format, Art Stage Jakarta
- Reshaping Tradition: 7 Contemporary Ceramic artists from East Asia – January 2016 – an exhibition at USC Pacific Asia Museum spotlights East Asian artists who are reshaping ceramic practice today
- “La Divina Commedia”: ceramic artist Lee Yun Hee – video – November 2015 – South Korean artist Lee Yun Hee re-interprets European literary classic through ceramic art
- Re-exploring the urban environment: Indonesian artists at Jakarta Biennale 2013 – picture feast – November 2013 – the 15th Jakarta Biennale takes a special look at Indonesian street artists
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