The newly opened Wendt Gallery of New York is proud to present a cornerstone of its gallery program with a survey of contemporary Indonesian art in an exhibition entitled My World, Your World, Our World.
Most of the artists featured in the new gallery exhibition are from Indonesia, an archipelago of over 13,000 islands (6000 inhabitable) that is the world’s third largest democracy and largest Muslim nation. The turbulent socio-political landscape in Indonesia from WWII to the present (the country endured decades of repressive, authoritarian rule for 50 years before its first free parliamentary election in 1999) inspired an era of explosively charged and passionate work.
An exhibition highlight is the 5-part painting, Holy Beer by Augus Suwage (b. Indonesia 1959), perhaps the most highly regarded contemporary artist in Indonesia today. The work is an exploration of the infinite possibilities of self-portraiture – a central aspect of Mr. Suwage’s oeuvre. Suwage was awarded a residency at the Museum of Modern Art in Koshigaya-shi Saitama, Japan in 1999, a solo exhibition at the Gallery Avanthay Contemporary in Zurich, Switzerland in 2008 (Beauty in the Dark), and a retrospective show at the Jogja National Museum in Indonesia (Still Crazy After All These Years).
Also highly regarded and an auction house favorite, FX Harsono (b. Indonesia 1948) is represented in the Wendt show with two works, Floating Between Threats (2008) and Deep in a Dream (2010). Of Chinese descent (as is Suwage) in a country where there has been longstanding discrimination against this ethnic group, Harsono is noted for his unflinching examination of this theme in his artwork and performance art. The needles and butterflies seen in these two paintings also recur throughout his work as symbols of the dominion of power, and powerless beings, respectively. He was given a solo exhibition in 2007 at the prestigious Langgeng Icon Gallery in Indonesia.
The surrealist and eccentric style of Indonesian artist Agapetus Kristiandana (b. Indonesia 1968) is evident in the piece In Memoriam. Sometimes shocking, often humorous, Agapetus explores aspects of the human condition
- alienation, isolation and conflict - through the depiction of animals, especially cows and pigs. Animal tales (and the worship of cows) figure prominently in Hinduism, which was the predominant religion in Indonesia before Islam (and its proscription of the consumption of pigs) became widespread there in the Middle Ages.
The exhibition also includes two paintings by Stefan Buana (b. Indonesia 1971), My Flag Merah Puti and Indonesia My Country #2. With a style both somber and symbolic, Buana’s paintings explore the tensions inherent in the dissonance between modernity and tradition and how this impacts life in Indonesia today. He has been exhibited in Indonesia and Singapore, most prominently with a solo exhibition at the National Gallery in Jakarta in 2008. Works by eight more artists complete the program.