Life Cycle
Category: Forbes Life By : Yessar Rosendar Read : 112 Date : Friday, November 10, 2017 - 08:51:17




Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

Agus Suwage’s artistic expression flows as a cycle. For him, ideas can be perfected again and again to better define, and give deeper meaning, to his thoughts. This philosophy fits well with his artistic expression, which can sometimes seem repetitive. Displayed at the tenth Artjog exhibition in Yogyakarta, titled: “Anatomy of Desire #2,” Agus’s latest art piece tries to summarize his 35 year venture in exploring mediums and objects for artistic expression. The set of oil paintings, done on cowhide, depict self-portraits and body organs. The work is meant to remind the audience to look beyond skin-deep, as appearances can be deceiving, and the essence lies deeper. Cowhide is a relatively new medium that he had used few times before. His self portrait, skeletons, and body organs have been the objects of Agus's artistic exploration and even his idendtity. The artwork showcased at the ArtJog also marks his return to using oil paint after a couple of years focusing on aquarelle. ForbesLife Indonesia sat down with Agus Suwage during the ArtJog to learn more about his artistic journey and exploration. The following is the edited excerpt of the interview.

ForbesLife Indonesia: Why did you decide to return to self-portraits?

Agus Suwage: Probably the self-portraits I did in the period from 1995 to 2005 brought me to the attention of the larger art world. Yet it bored me at a certain point, so I decided to take a break. My self-portrait is not a self-documentation—the portraits I made were a medium for my concept and ideas. In 2005, because I was tired, I decided to paint on other objects: using portraits, gestures and expressions of other artists and people. Before, I was doing it myself, and I created an expression or gesture like laughing or jumping around for my own visual interest.

Then I explored the skeleton as an object, but this was not consistent with my self-portraits. I also combined my self-portrait with animals, with the face of dog and pig. It is all a medium, a comment, an idea—or my discomfort about social, political and sometimes religious issues. I did all these themes so now I have no boundaries on which object I should use, whether it’s a self-portrait, animals, skeleton, scenery, or other people. Because I realize my art is just a cycle of ideas that could reappear, but I can use other mediums with different interpretation.

FLI: So,  it is not really a return but more like a compilation?

AS: It’s like digging into old ideas, but they can also automatically resurface. I feel more freedom but it’s also different from my previous work and considering what medium is the most appropriate for my art. What is happening in daily life, or the social and political situation, evokes these old ideas to resurface. Like my current work, it is about the current political condition, and about using religion as a political tool and an abuse of power. I am using cowhide as a medium because what appears on the skin—the surface—is often different from what is inside. A contradiction. 

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