Gajah Gallery Yogakarta, Indonesia opens visual art exhibition “SUPER/NATURAL”

20 Singapore and Indonesian artists explore nature in an ambitious group show at Gajah Gallery Yogyakarta

May 17, 2017 | By Art Republik
Gajah Gallery

Gajah Gallery Yogyakarta/ Interior view of Gajah Gallery Yogyakarta/ ©Gajah Gallery.

SUPER/NATURAL, a new exhibition at Gajah Gallery Yogyakarta, opens to the public on 19 May 2017, with a special performance art event taking place on the same day. The visual art exhibition will be on display until 19 June 2017. The show is based on 20 contemporary artists’ multi-faceted interpretations of nature, including the external living environment as well as internal explorations of the self and the lives we live in Southeast Asia.

Through their works, the artists also explore belief systems in the region, and shed light on the way things are in contemporary society. “When the show was conceived, the idea was to work with these artists with a theme that was resonant in their works, and yet one that was highly relevant to other artists in Singapore and Indonesia, and reflect multiple readings,” explains co-curator Michelle Ho. “As such, I found the exhibition title Super/Natural felt quite apt, and particularly meaningful to Southeast Asia, a diverse region with a rich history of cultures and forms of belief.”

Kumari Nahappan

Kumari Nahappan, 2016, Movement 1, cast bronze, 59.5 x 39 x 100cm, unique edition. © Artist.

Zen Teh

Zen Teh, 2012, Singapore Landscape Painting, inkjet print on archival japanese handmade paper, 60 x 460cm. © Artist.

Three artists, Warren Khong, Adeline Kueh and Melissa Tan, have created new works specifically for the show. Other Singapore artists whose works are included are Lavender Chang, Maxine Chionh, Sarah Choo Jing, Ng Joon Kiat, Ruben Pang, Melissa Tan, Zen Teh, Suzann Victor, Chong Weixin, Ian Woo, Robert Zhao, as well as Kumari Nahappan, Suzann Victor and Jason Lim, whom Gajah Gallery, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in Singapore last year, has worked with for a long time.

Mimi Fadmi

Mimi Fadmi, Untitled (Performance), 2016, Tokyo, Japan. © Hu Li Bin.

The performance art event showcases mostly Indonesian artists. They are Aliansyah Caniago, Mimi Fadmi, Ridwan Rau Rau, Riyadhus Shalihin (Bandung), FJ Kunting, Arsita Wardhani (Yogyakarta) and Jason Lim (Singapore). Lim, who has directed the performance art festival ‘Future of Imagination’, is also the event’s curator. He selected the artists from an international performance art event, ‘Undisclosed Territories #10’, held in Solo, Indonesia, in 2016.

Super/Natural looks at the practices of both Singapore and Indonesian artists side by side to draw out overarching ideas about Southeast Asian art. Ho says, “The exhibition is a way of establishing dialogue and discussion about the languages of art-making from Singapore and Indonesia.” Lim adds,  “I think the visual art exhibition and the performance art event complement each other with the former showcasing static ― or permanent ― artworks by Singaporean artists, and the latter presenting ephemeral and time-based works by mainly Indonesian artists.

Not coincidentally, the show will open a day after the highly anticipated Art Jog, the city’s signature art fair that will attract art lovers from the region.  Lim says “I am most satisfied that the gallery has considered including a performance art event in a generally commercially driven event like Art Jog, giving the audience a chance to experience performance art, which still remains the least understood contemporary art form in Indonesian.”

Chong Weixin

Chong Weixin, Beige Dreams, Flesh Skin Surface 1 – makeup and print on aluminium, 44.6 x 29.4cm, edition of 3. © Artist.

An interesting work from the visual art exhibition is Chong Weixin’s ‘Beige Dreams, Flesh Skin Surface 1’, a makeup and print on aluminium work featuring a delicate lone rose that comments on the enhancement of natural beauty in relation to the show’s theme. “ In defining our ideas of what we are, we extrapolate what we see to the extent where it becomes a filter encompassing both illusion and delusion,” says Chong. “My work in the show is a merging of this filtration and the natural object. It draws on surrounding themes that I hope audiences will see in conversation with the other works in Super/Natural, and come away with a sense of a complex and nuanced enjoyment of the show.”

Ng Joo Kiat

Ng Joon Kiat, 2016, Untitled Cities 3, Acrylic on Cloth, 200 x 180cm. © Artist.

Another work of note is a work from Ng Joon Kiat using acrylic on cloth to represent an aerial view of the cityscape in neon shades of yellow and green. “‘Untitled Cities 3’ is the result of observing intense human interventions of all kinds, which collectively form a sort of super-nature like that of ant colonies,” says Ng. “The work also looks at the concept of greenery: garden in a city, has its own perverted origins. It exemplifies the human desire to manipulate and control nature, taming it to be an artificial beauty or a kind of plastic charm with hidden violence.”

If you are heading to Jogjakarta this weekend, be sure to catch ‘Super/Natural’, supported by the Singapore International Foundation and the National Arts Council, at Gajah Gallery Yogyakarta.

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