The Bandung-based artist pushes traditional modes of painting to its limits, using resin to create large-scale experimental works.

Oscillating between abstract painting and industrial methods, Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo has perfected his skills over years working with resin. For his upcoming solo exhibition at Sullivan+Strumpf in Sydney, the artist has formulated a new body of work incorporating food material. Art Radar takes a closer look at the artist’s practice.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Cabe', 2017, video still (1), 22 July – 12 August 2017, Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney. Image courtesy Sullivan + Strumpf

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, ‘Cabe’, 2017, video still. Image courtesy Sullivan + Strumpf.

This article was written by a participant in our art writing diploma programme. Do you want to write for Art Radar too? Click here to find out more about our Diploma in Art Journalism & Writing.

 

Moving pigments

Deeply interested in the nature of pigmented resin, Arin not only incorporates in his research knowledge about its preserving qualities; his art practice changes with every new pigment he discovers. This adventurousness reflects his inner curiosity through the use of multiple techniques and new media. He told Art Radar:

At the moment resin is my driving force. So far, I have learned a lot from every pigment I have explored. […] The choice of the pigments actually open up a completely new horizon within my artistic works.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Cabe', 2017, video still (2), 22 July – 12 August 2017, Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney. Image courtesy Sullivan + Strumpf

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, ‘Cabe’, 2017, video still. Image courtesy Sullivan + Strumpf.

Arin’s newest body of work will be shown during his solo exhibition at Sullivan+Strumpf from 22 July until 12 August 2017 in Sydney. Still using resin as the “binding-agent”, the artist has now started to engage with different kinds of food pigments, like spices, dyed food, milk powder and even instant noodles. However, being used to working with different kinds of pigments, from natural to industrial ones, Arin has contradictory emotions about using “eatable” [edible] material:

Utilizing organic food pigments for the first time, a feeling of “taboo” came up when I used eatable [sic] material for artistic purposes. Perhaps because human culture tends to look at food as something “sacred”. Just like stepping on or throwing food away is something frowned upon society.

He captures the process of the pigments becoming permanent when fusing with the viscous materiality of resin through the medium of moving images, such as in his latest video work Cabe (2017). Explaining his recent move to videography, the artist tells Art Radar:

My interest in using the medium of videography arose because of its specific qualities to open up a new experience in perceiving every single pigment.

The art on display in the exhibition is a progression from Arin’s previous works, merging photography within his resin panels.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Mother and child series #1', 2012, pigmented resin, digital print mounted on wooden panel, 159,5 x 276 cm. Image courtesy IVVA (Indonesian Visual Art Archive).

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, ‘Mother and Child Series #1’, 2012, pigmented resin, digital print mounted on wooden panel, 159,5 x 276 cm. Image courtesy IVVA (Indonesian Visual Art Archive).

Arin meets resin 

Arin came upon the very specific materiality of resin in 2008 quite by chance. Indonesian art journalist and critic Carla Bianpoen described his first encounter with the material’s quality thus:

One day, he was using resin to smooth the surface of his canvases. Because he was concentrating on whether the resin had improved the canvases’ surface, he didn’t notice the resin drippings on the edges of the canvases. […] Fascinated, he started experimenting, agitating the canvas on which he had put some resin.

From the day of his discovery, the uncommon material gradually became a crucial part and signature medium of his artistic practice.

What makes resin unpredictable and tremendously challenging is the material’s characteristic to harden within only 15 minutes. However, Arin turns this drawback into his personal artistic strategy. Limited to a tight time frame, the artist has to be even more aware of and accomplished in working with the material. According to Bianpoen, the artist’s short production time thus mirrors today’s “Zeitgeist”: Extremely challenging, it fits the spirit of the time.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Ashslide #2', 2015, pigmented resin, volcanic ash and various mineral pigments mounted on plexiglass panel, 242 x 195 cm. Image courtesy IndoArtNow.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, ‘Ashslide #2’, 2015, pigmented resin, volcanic ash and various mineral pigments mounted on plexiglass panel, 242 x 195 cm. Image courtesy IndoArtNow.

Preserved fluidity 

Rejecting the brush, Arin splashes, pours, throws, drips or drizzles the still-liquid substance with containers or his own hands onto different kinds of flat surfaces. The material’s fluidity or flowing nature thus replaces brush strokes within his paintings. Sometimes he even uses skateboards if he wants to produce straight lines, as in his work Ashslide #2.

 

The exact moment of the sudden freezing of the fluid’s unexpected flow is then marked by a double preservation effect. On the one hand there is the transitory process, led by Arin’s vision and somewhat by chance, captured when the material hardens. On the other hand, the substance itself contains a preservation effect, as Arin explains in a video by INDOARTNOW:

My inspiration is the material itself. When I decided to use resin, I tried to conduct research about it […]. As an example, resin is well-known for preserving or freezing the microorganisms which [are] trapped in pine tree sap. […] Archaeologists or biologists usually could find the intact fossils or animals inside the resin.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Enlightenment Has Many Faces #2', 2016, pigmented resin, 14 x 14,25 x 31 cm, exhibited at the Art Fair Philippines 2017. Image courtesy the artist.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, ‘Enlightenment Has Many Faces #2’, 2016, pigmented resin, 14 x 14,25 x 31 cm, exhibited at the Art Fair Philippines 2017. Image courtesy the artist.

Arin’s laboratory 

The artist is also interested in the medium’s transformations and its role within contemporary industrial production – it is now used for every kind of manufacturing, from plastic to furniture. Emphasising the material’s functions in modern times, Arin’s whole process using resin is dedicated to industrial methods, turning his atelier into a dynamic laboratory of experimentation. Even his limited choice of colours refers to the four inks used within industrial printing, as Arin shares in an interview with the Guggenheim:  

I found that there is a complex relationship between the industrial material and also the digital printing. And the colour palette that I use for this colour is actually restricted to CMYK*.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Enlightenment Has Many Faces #3', 2017, pigmented resin, 59 x 37 x 10 cm, exhibited at the Art Fair Philippines 2017. Image courtesy the artist.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, ‘Enlightenment Has Many Faces #3’, 2017, pigmented resin, 59 x 37 x 10 cm, exhibited at the Art Fair Philippines 2017. Image courtesy the artist.

Specifically in Indonesia, his distinct approach means a step away from the successful practice of his father Sunaryo, who is a well-known Indonesian artist and initiator of the Selasar Sunaryo Art space in Bandung.

Arin’s artworks have been widely exhibited across the globe. Besides recent solo exhibitions at the ARDNT Gallery in Berlin (2015) and at the Selasar Sunaryo Art Space in Bandung (2015), Arin’s Volcanic Ash Series #4 was shown at the Guggenheim South and Southeast Asia group exhibition in 2013.

Recently, some of his freshest works were displayed at Art Fair Philippines, including two of his sculptures, Enlightenment Has Many Faces #2 and #3, made from leftovers of his resin paintings.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Under the Ash Cloud', 2013, pigmented resin, Merapi volcanic ash mounted on wooden panel, 180 x 290 cm (diptych). Image courtesy IVVA (Indonesian Visual Art Archive).

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, ‘Under the Ash Cloud’, 2013, pigmented resin, Merapi volcanic ash mounted on wooden panel, 180 x 290 cm (diptych). Image courtesy IVVA (Indonesian Visual Art Archive).

Volcanic ash

Born and bred in Bandung, Indonesia’s creative hub, Arin decided to continue his Master’s studies in London at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. Inspired by Ian Davenport and Alexis Harding, Arin freed himself from Bandung cubism and formulated a new “universal language” between Asia and Europe, as Arndt stated in an interview with The New York Times.

Still driven by cross-narratives rooted in Indonesia, Arin started to merge volcanic ash within his resin paintings. Constantly reconsidering his own methods, his usage of the Merapi volcano ash transformed within his works over time, becoming more event-focused soon after the eruption in 2010, and emphasising material as showcased in his solo exhibition at Equator Art Projects in 2013.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Lagedu', 2016, pigmented resin, volcanic ash and digital print on wooden panel, 358 x 120 x 5 cm (diptych). Image courtesy ROH projects.

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

Arin was intrigued by the moment when the ash fused with the resin. Their encounter changed the colours to more brownish tones, like in Under the Ash Cloud (2013). Similar to resin, volcanic ash contains preserving qualities, therefore serving as a natural progression of Arin’s material selection. As art historian Tony Godfrey highlighted within the catalogue of the exhibition “Ashfall”:

Art can defy if not deny time. It cannot preserve the maelstrom, but it can preserve or recreate a moment of it.

Claudia König

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This article was written by a participant in our art writing diploma programme. Do you want to write for Art Radar too? Click here to find out more about our Diploma in Art Journalism & Writing.

 

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Brittney

By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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