Agus Suwage

When 16 Feb 2017 - 1 Apr 2017
Where Tyler Rollins Fine Art
529 W 20th St # 10W
New York, NY 10011
United States

One of Indonesia’s most revered and internationally active contemporary artists, Agus Suwage has been featured in approximately 150 museum and gallery exhibitions around the world, and his works are included in most comprehensive collections of Southeast Asian contemporary art. Over the past few decades, he has exhibited in a number of international biennials, such as the Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane, Australia (1996), the Gwangju Biennial (2000), the Singapore Biennial (2006), and the Jogja Biennale (2007 and 2013). In the United States, his work was recently featured in the international contemporary art biennial, Prospect New Orleans (October 25, 2014 – January 25, 2015). In 2009, the Jogja National Museum in Indonesia devoted all three floors of its building to a major retrospective of Suwage’s works of the past 25 years, including paintings, sculptures, and installations. A 670-page monograph of his work, Still Crazy After All These Years, was published in conjunction with this landmark exhibition.

In 2013, Tyler Rollins Fine Art presented Suwage’s second solo exhibition at the gallery, entitled CYCLE No. 2. Curated by Enin Supriyanto, one of Indonesia’s leading independent curators, the exhibition marked the second stage of a major new body of work to be shown in three cities around the world – Jakarta, New York, and Berlin. These exhibitions focused on the theme of the cycle of life and death, an ongoing preoccupation of the artist, and represented a very personal reflection on this cycle, referencing Suwage’s own mixed Javanese and Chinese background and his experience as a Christian convert to Islam, while also alluding to Java’s Hindu, Buddhist, and animist spiritual traditions. Although grounded in this personal vision, the works exhibited a deep socio-political engagement, an important aspect of the artist’s work since the 1990s. Suwage’s works have often made critiques – sometimes pointed, sometimes veiled – of various forms of intolerance (social, religious, or political) and of the attempt to impose a single rigid, monolithic structure on society, whether by the Suharto regime in the 1990s or more recently by the rise of a more fundamentalist strain of Islam in Indonesia.

The works in CYCLE No. 2 directly incorporated religious motifs – the Virgin Mary, Muslim prayer attire, angels and demons – as well as the actual sounds of prayers. Yet they also contained many references to motifs seen in Suwage’s own works over the years, reflecting his longstanding concern with artistic influence and the process of artistic inspiration, and with the role of the artist in society. The self-portrait remained a central focus, with the artist’s image appearing in various disguises and permutations throughout the works. Suwage continued to make use of zinc panels, one of his primary media in the past few years, exploring the expressive possibilities of their rugged patina and monochromatic surfaces, a process begun with The End Is Just Beginning Is the End (2011) at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, his first solo exhibition in the United States.

Recent museum exhibitions include: Manifesto V: Arus, National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia (2016); After Utopia: Revisiting the Ideal in Asian Contemporary Art, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2015); Panorama: Recent Art from Contemporary Asia, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2012); Beyond the East, Macro Museum, Rome, Italy (2011); Beyond the Self, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia (2011); Ekspansi: Contemporary Sculptures, National Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia (2011); Negotiating Home, History, and Nation: Two Decades of Contemporary Art in Southeast Asia, Singapore Art Museum (2011).

Photo courtesy of the organiser/s

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