Agus Suwage

July 25, 2009

Agus Suwage is Still Crazy

By Winarto

When a painter has no problem anymore with technical matter his/her ability and braveness to explore ‘crazy ideas’ will be necessary  for his/her sustainable existence. These  are we obtain from Agus Suwage when we visit his solo exhibition in Jogja National Museum, Jogjakarta, Indonesia, July 5-31, 2009.

The exhibition for his 50th birthday party entitled “Agus Suwage, Still Crazy After All these Years”. From the title and with considering his track record in the world of painting and visual art we hoped here to get ‘the crazy’ of Agus Suwage. And we really got ‘the madness’.the-man-of-the-year-2009

In presentation aspect this exhibition was spectacular enough. Here were exposed 99 works of Agus Suwage in the latest 25 years (1985-2009). About a thousand visitors attended the opening ceremony. They are artists, collectors, writers or journalists, and auctioneers from many cities and regions in Indonesia and foreign such as Singapore, Malaysia, Hongkong, and Taiwan. Their attendance and enthusiasm showed the greatness of Agus Suwage’s reputations. This was one ‘madness’.

Nevertheless, the great madness of Agus was looked at his recent works. Technical chronologically, about a hundred of his works presented here described his long journey to know well and to explore various expression media. Started from drawing with charcoal, then painting with water color, oil, and installation arts with various material. Ideological thematically we caught in the richness of Agus’s perspective on many kind of problems such as social, political, cultural problem, gender and self identity matters.

In this context the interesting thing is  the approach of Agus in viewing the problems. He didn’t catch in the social realities directly and put on the canvas, but he preferred to present the social realities in figurative symbols with his body himself as models. Through his body in canvas Agus tried to explain social realities. So, like as a dancer or choreographer Agus made his body as a central of art expression. Then his body physically was not different from ‘social body’, ‘political body’, ‘cultural’ and ‘art body’ with very various dimensions. There were sadness and happiness, aloneness and joyfulness, honesty and deceit, foolishness, or ambiguities. These appear  sometime in harmony and in other time make a contradiction to each other.

Look at, for instance, his work “Suwage vs Suwage”. This painting shows Agus Suwage  as two persons with pork faces. They are seen in a dispute to each other.  They perhaps fight for ‘something’ and the ‘something’ may be ‘whatever’. It can be just a simple or physical thing like as foods or money, or something bigger than it like as  a power. Its up to us to make an imagination because Agus didn’t explain. He just provided a room for imagination.

"Suwage vs Suwage" by Agus Suwage

"Suwage vs Suwage" by Agus Suwage

Really the more important thing is the picture of a human being in a pork face. These such pictures appeared in several works of Agus Suwage. I don’t know exactly what will be explained by Agus with pork. In a certain subculture in Indonesia this animal used to be hunt for foods. But in a certain religion  pork is forbidden to be eaten. Pork is also assumed as greedy and dirty animal.

Social critical messages transparantly could be seen at his work “Luxury Crime 3rd Edition 2007-2009”. This painting shows a human skeleton in goldy color is laying down on a bucket which is full of rice. In context of recent social condition in Indonesia this painting push us to remember ironical facts that there have been a lot of people suffer from poverty while their country is very rich.

Agus Suwage was born in a litle town Purworejo, Central Java, in 1959. He is one of some senior painters in Indonesia which are very creative and productive in their ‘golden age’  such as Edy Hara (52 years old), Tisna Sanjaya (51),  Dede Eri Supria (53), and Heri Dono (48). They are some of Indonesian artists who have been able to take their works along to the art center cities around the world. Agus Suwage himself has presented his works in tens times in foreign such as Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and Germany.

See other exhibition review: Kompas Short Story Illustration

5 Responses to Agus Suwage

  1. Art Painting World on August 1, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Congrats sir, it’s a great painting website I have ever seen. Go ahead!

  2. Heri Dono | on August 4, 2009 at 11:25 am

    […] Privacy Policy « Agus Suwage […]

  3. Agus Suwage « Wegallery on August 9, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    […] English Version: Agus Suwage is still crazy […]

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