Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Power to the Women \(^~^)/

Today, I will be sharing about the feminist art movement as well as feminist artists like me. The feminist art movement is efforts and accomplishments of feminists internationally to make art that reflects women's lives and experiences. The art movement also sought to bring more visibility to women within art history and art practice. It began in the 1960s and flourished throughout the 1970s. It has been called "the most influential international movement of any during the postwar period" and its effects continue to the present. As part of the movement, I have created numerous works with the theme of feminism, portraying women in a greater and positive light, and disproving misconceptions. I would like to bring to light 2 prominent artists, Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro. Judy Chicago is an American feminist artist, and a work I would like to highlight is The Birth Project.

From 1980 until 1985, Chicago created The Birth Project. The piece used images of childbirth to celebrate woman's role as mother. The installation reinterpreted the Genesis creation narrative, which focused on the idea that a male god created a male human, Adam, without the involvement of a woman. She described the piece as revealing a "primordial female self hidden among the recesses of my soul...the birthing woman is part of the dawn of creation." Miriam Scharpiro was a canadian born artist based in America, and a pioneer of the feminist art movement. She has also had success in abstract expressionism. Miriam Schapiro famously rediscovered traditionally feminine women’s art by using pieces of embroidery, threads, knitting, scraps, sequins, buttons, and other material from crafts and decorative arts. She combined these in collage projects to create what she called “Femmage.” In creating these "Femmages", she insisted that society should revise the value placed on women’s creations by furthering their use in new and innovative art projects. Below is Court Jester by Miriam Schapiro, created in 2007.
In many ways, the three of us are very similar in wanting to portray women as equal individuals, and assert our importance in society. Girl power woohooo

Frida Kahlo

Today is a day that I feel like sharing about other artists, so I would like to continue on and talk about Frida Kahlo. A woman too, Frida Kahlo is a mexican painter best known for her self portraits.Her work has also been celebrated in Mexico as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition, and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form. Kahlo is one of my favorite artists, because she is not afraid to be bold and courageous enough to stand up for female artists like us. Frida is a brilliant artist who has created at least 200 artworks related to her life, environment and physical pain she has suffered. Indeed, she had a troubled childhood and was not a very fortunate person. Nevertheless, she still managed to pull through and express herself through art, which is what I admire greatly. This is a self portrait:
As Frida states, she likes to paint herself because only she herself knows herslef best. Her original quote, "I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best." She also stated, "I was born a bitch. I was born a painter." This shows how strong and confident she is and I admire her for this. Like me, she believes art is a brilliant tool for expression, and sometimes a way to escape from my problems and fears, or simply just let out my emotions. I can relate to Frida very well, and find that we are very much alike.. maybe she should be my BFF instead ;)

My friend, Marc Quinn

Today, instead of talking about myself all the time, I will talk about a close friend of mine Marc Quinn. Marc is a British contemporary artist who has done many great works in the years that I have known him. Marc expresses great interest in the distanced relationship we as humans have with our bodies, and how the 'natural' and 'cultural' has a grip on the contemporary psyche. Marc also like to explore the dualisms that define human life, such as the spiritual and the physical, as well as surface and depth. I am a painter, and Marc is a sculptor. A few of his most interesting works include "Self" (1999), and "Garden" (2000). "Self" was a cast of his own head, made from 4.5l of his own blood. Honestly, I found it a little disturbing, but I feel one should respect a fellow artist's works. A collection of casts of his head were to be made once every 5 years, with 10 pints of blood. Thats a lot of blood. Each portrait of himself is cast at the time it was made, which I suppose depict Marc's physical maturation as an artist over time.
Quite handsome, no? His next work is Garden, my favorite. It is a collection of incompatible plants which are cyrogenically frozen into place in a common environment. According to Marc, the plants were cast in silicone, then frozen to prevent them from drying out. I remember Marc said "The flowers, when they freeze, become pure image. They become an image of a perfect flower, because in reality their matter is dead and they are suspended in a state of transformation between pure image and pure matter."
This installation is my favorite, because the flowers are pretty. Just kidding, I feel that this installation aptly and effectively conveys Marc's ideas and it is also aesthetically very appealing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My BFF...Dede Eri Supria

Hello guys, today I'm going to introduce to you another great artist (apart from myself). He is none other than my fellow countryman and good friend Dede Supria!! :)

Dede Eri Supria is a super-realist southeast Asian artist in Indonesia.  He was born in Jakarta on January 29, 1956.  He studied at the Indonesian Fine Art Academy (ASRI) in Yogyakarta, graduating in 1974.  In 1976 he first emerged onto the Indonesian Art Scene when he exhibited his work at the first Seni Rupa Baru Indonesia exhibition at the Balai Budaya in Jakarta. Being an contemporary artist like myself, most of the subject matters that Dede explores in about the increasing trend of consumerism happening in Indonesia, emphasizing on the social commentary portion on Indonesian society in his art works. Themes in his artworks include the rich-poor divide in Indonesia, the lives of the urban dwellers in Indonesian cities, the poor and neglected and the changes in the Indonesian society in general, particularly in his own hometown, Jakarta.

I am particularly impressed by on of his most famous works, that is, 'The world is a maze': 

Supria uses photographic realism, making use of illusions and receding perspective to give a sense of space, manipulating geometric shapes and lines of varying thickness in different directions. The vast space and ambiguous background gives the feeling of fear and uncertainty of the unknown and the complex network of lines symbolize confusion and disorientation of people living in Indonesia, notably Jakarta. Through this painting, Dede wants to show that development due to rapid urbanization is becoming more extensive such that scene is becoming increasingly unfamiliar and unrecognizable. Such modernization has also threatened to marginalize certain underprivileged groups of society who are unable to keep up to the rapid pace of modern life. It reflects the reality of modern life and urban dilemmas, such that the poor has to be somewhat sacrificed in the process.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Recurring themes


I have always love nature, and it has always been my space of solitude from the chaotic world.

Possibly, that is the reason for all my depiction of cosmoscapes?

I was born among the mountains in Temanggung, Central Java on January 1959. Though I was the sixth child of nine children in my family, I spent much of my childhood alone. Then, large families were seen as old-fashioned and indicated signs of backwardness and the other kids with only three or four siblings often made fun of my family. From an early age, I had to give in before peer tauting, aggression and ostracism- experiences that I believed have shaped my character today. To yield and not fight back was a way of escape, from all the societal pressures and problems, which was something that I had learnt then.

Most of the time, I’d quietly leave the crowd and go my own way, walking through rice-fields, in distant gardens or simply somewhere with nature (like springs, plants, animals or open spaces). These were places I often spent my time at, simply watching, observing and studying; somewhere I can be completely at ease with. These things were my greatest pleasure. Gradually, it become a habit and want to communicate with nature more than with human beings.

Art is a tool for expression, where I transform my emotions such as anger into colour symbols, for example, an explosion of live-coals red. It depicts my moods, the happiness and the unhappiness I get from my daily life and daydream experiences. And nature, being a source of comfort and joy for me, would naturally be presented in the space I’m seeking to vent out my frustrations. Like how I often depict free and peaceful natural environments, imaginations of the outer space, planets, sea waves and bimorphic rocks. It is a longing, I suppose, to be free from all the chaos of life and to dwell in the space I was most familiar with. 

Nuclear Explosion in a Wok III 1993-94
Oil on canvas
150 x 150cm

Influence from Javanese culture

One other recurring theme I have in my works are influences from the Javanese culture. 
The culture of performing arts such as shadow plays (wayang) are deeply rooted in the community, accessible to all walks of life, unlike the fine arts or literature, which are enjoyed by elites and the well-educated. Shadow plays (wayang) have been present in the lives of Javanese people for more than a thousand years, thereby being a part of every Indonesian's life. A familiar image for all. 

"Srikandi" and myself
spot the resemblance?

Srikandi is a work which is influenced by a South-East Asian legend of a strong, powerful character of Srikandi, a daring female knight character of the Javanese shadow plays who is brave and characteristically holds her head upwards just like the woman figure. Blue cloth worn by the figure is an adaptation where members of the women's armies who historically protected the Sultans of feudal Central Java wore blue cloth. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Social Changes in Indonesia

Spiritual pencerahan salah satu aspek paling penting dari karya seni saya. Tanpa itu, saya merasa bahwa setiap bagian dari karya seni saya akan kekuranganemosi, hati merasa perasaan seniman dan estetika yang sangat penting dalam memproduksi sepotong benar-benar menarik karya seni untuk penonton.

التنوير الروحي واحد من أهم جوانب خلق فني. دون ذلك، وأنا أشعر أن كل قطعة واحدة من الأعمال الفنية الخاصة بيوسوف تفتقر إلى المشاعر، من القلب، شعرت بمشاعر الفنان والجماليات التي تعتبر حاسمة في انتاج قطعة جذابة حقاعمل فني للجمهور.

Okay, now back to English...Social/ demographic changes that took place in Indonesia during this period of time is one of the most important aspects of my art creation. Without this, I feel that I would not have been able to produce artworks that are brimming with emotions, heart-felt feelings of the artist and aesthetics that are crucial in producing a piece of appealing artwork for the audience.

Most of all, I am very concerned about the rapid industrial and technological development happening here in Indonesia. I started responding more to the natural and social environment, and there is a gradual shift in my concerns and so it becomes reflected in my artworks. My artworks become more 'surrealist' in nature and I like to present them as 'a reality bundled as a dream' to the audience, such as these:

The repressive political conditions of the New Order state and the social dislocation caused by rapid industrial and technological development unquestionably affected the nature of my artistic and cultural production. I started to raise questions about gender and personal transformation and the tensions created by contrary forces of political repression and social transformation indeed affected my art. In essence, my artworks contributed to the attitudinal and social change in Indonesia.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Umbrella 2000

Umbrella 2000 (1996)
Image Source:

While exhibiting my painting Payung 2000, or Umbrella 2000, some people told me that the woman in the painting resembles Supreme Master Ch’ing Hai. I was taken back initially, as I have never intended for the woman in the painting to be anyone in particular. Rather, she is like a pillar of strength to me, for I felt like help is within reach when I was painting her, this beautiful woman with long hair and white dress, carrying the world on her shoulders. This discovery intrigued me, and soon, I became a follower.