Category Archives: JAW – Jogja Art Weeks

Afghan artist’s “Iron Cocoon” a highlight of Jogja Art Weeks

"IRON COCOON" Amin Taasha - Image Richard HorstmanExhibition view – Iron Cocoon – Amin Taasha, 22 May – 7 June, Galeri Fadar Sidik,  ISI Yogyakarta

 

Indonesian and international art audiences visiting Yogyakarta during Jogja Art Weeks (JAW), a month long program of art events held throughout the Central Java, have a unique opportunity to observe a new direction in Asian contemporary art.

Iron Cocoon, the second solo exhibition by emerging Afghanistan artist Amin Taasha, open 22 May, Galeri Fadjar Sidik at ISI Yogyakarta, features a collection of ‘Abstract-Miniaturism’ paintings, presented together with audio compositions by Serbian composer Vanja Dabic, text, video and installation art, that may be observed individually, or as a whole.

Thoughtful SoulThoughtful Soul, 2018  – Amin Taasha. Watercolour, acrylic, ink, gold and sliver on paper 45 x 120cm

 

His compositions are a unique fusion of Asian cultural influences along with contemporary art ideas, featuring ancient script from Persia, Buddhist iconography, figures drawn from the 7th – 11th century miniature painting style of Afghanistan, along with Chinese ink modified calligraphy. Born in 1995 in Bamiyan Province in the mountainous central region of Afghanistan, Taasha draws upon a wealth of traditional art, where elements of Greek and Buddhist art were merged into a distinctive classical style known as Greco-Buddhist art, and then transforms this through the use of abstraction.

The decapitated Buddha is an ongoing theme throughout Iron Cocoon through which Taasha makes reference to the Taliban’s destruction of giant Buddhist statues found in his homeland. But while Forbidden, just one of nine of his larger vertical and horizontal monochrome scenarios makes direct reference to the violence committed by the Taliban, it is his central, and culminating installation, Witness that delivers the graphic evidence, and impact of the events that shocked the world in 2001.

"Witness" Amin Taasha - Image Richard Horstman                       Witness – Amin Taasha  Video installation

 

A circular line of earth becomes the frame for a short video documentary that reveals Taliban tanks and rockets firing at the giant Buddhist icons, while cultural experts lament the demise. A seated Buddha statue grounds the installation, ironically a headless observer, while suspended floating above, its decapitated head is taken away by a black crow inflight. Iron Cocoon is rich in symbolic metaphors, and the crow throughout the exhibition represents the powerful ignorant few that destroy important history and culture.

Within Taasha’s painting his mastery comes alive through his language of aesthetic simplicity. He balances the visual worlds of colour and form into perfect unions of the abstract, along with the recognizable form. He communicates on both the conscious and subconscious levels, through his Zen code of symbolic metaphors. His tiny figures at once connect us with the past while conveying wisdoms from an ancient time. Animals too play important roles.

"Untitled #10" Amin Taasha - Photo Richard Horstman Untitled #7 – Amin Taasha. Mixed media, gold ans silver on old book paper 13 x 19cm

 

Black is the predominant visual feature. It’s enigmatic potency functions on the subconscious level, creating a metaphysical realm with which to engage the audience. This blackness conjures up what the Buddhists refer to as the void – a place of commanding inner peace. Fine splashes of ink appear like smoke, and represent the eternal cycle of life. Gold and silver leaf are another important aesthetic feature, along with a measured array of dynamic colours, they function as powerful aesthetic tools.

Taasha moved to Kabul when the Taliban took over the area and began studying art in 2007, then in 2010 he attended the Kabul Fine Arts Institute where he has studied painting, miniature painting and calligraphy. In 2012 he was invited to participate in a workshop Seeking Study at the National Gallery of Afghanistan, as a part of the Documenta 13 international art project in Kabul. Two of his works were deemed to contain controversial subject matter and were prohibited from the exhibition by the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture. Taasha was later subjected to police interrogation with the barrel of an AK-44 pushed to his head.

When The Sun Goes DownWhen the sun goes down – Amin Taasha. Watercolour, acrylic, ink, gold & sliver on paper, 45 x 120 cm

 

In 2013 Taasha moved to Central Java, receiving a one-year scholarship to study art at ISI Yogyakarta, the following year he was awarded a one-year scholarship at UNNES Semarang, and in 2014 received another scholarship at ISI, where he has been studying ever since. He has been exhibiting consistently for the past ten years in Afghanistan and Indonesia, as well as in Iran, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Indonesia, US, Canada, Germany and Italy. His works are in collections in the UK, US, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, France, India, Australia, Singapore and Indonesia. Iron Cocoon is his first solo exhibition in Indonesia.

The Iron Cocoon catalogue states, the concept of Taasha’s exhibition takes the metaphor of an armoured cocoon; a flexible protected shell that allows the person within to be able to transform, safe from the conflicts occurring outside. This is partially in reference to Taasha growing up in Afghanistan, a country synonymous with death and violence, and how art is able to first germinate in this environment, before being transposed to another country, where it can begin to grow in its new style.

A naudience members engages in Taasha's work while litening to the audio composition by Vanja DabicAn audience member engages with a painting while listening to an audio composition by Vanja Dabic.

 

Taasha, who exhibited in The Death of Contemporary Art, a group exhibition along side leading Indonesian artist Heri Dono in 2016 in Yogyakarta, is a part of a group of post-contemporary artists. Iron Cocoon follows on from his two sold-out exhibitions in Bangladesh and Iran this year. Taasha’s sensitivity connects with the deepest levels of our psyche, touching the soul. Works of extraordinary precision – beautiful and serene – Iron Cocoon reflects maturity that belies the artist’s years.

Amin Taasha - Image Richard Horstman                                        Amin Taasha

 

Forbidden Forbidden – Amin Taasha. Watercolour, acrylic, ink, gold & silver on paper. 45 x 120 cm

 

 

Iron Cocoon

Open daily 22 May – 7 June,

Galeri Fadar Sidik,

ISI Yogyakarta

Jalan Parangritis, Sewon, Bantul Yogyakarta

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Courtesy Amin Taasha & Richard Horstman

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JAW (Jogja Art Weeks) – Indonesia’s evolving art infrastructure

"Bebas Dalam Keterbatasan" (free within limitations) 2017, Photography on Acrylic. Nofria Doni Fitri. Bakaba, Sakato Art Community, Jogja Gallery Image R Horstman“Bebas Dalam Keterbatasan” (free within limitations) 2017, Photography on Acrylic – Nofria Doni Fitri. Bakaba by Sakato Art Community, Jogja Gallery, during JAW

Indonesia is the biggest and most dynamic art market in the Asian region next to China, and the largest art producer of Southeast Asia. Increasingly gaining international attention via the mechanisms of global art, each year more-and-more foreigners venture to Central Java seeking out engagement with the many talented and diverse artists, and art communities in the area.

Jogja Art Weeks (JAW) is a month-long plethora of activities held May/June throughout Yogyakarta’s Special Regency, and north into Magelang. Organized by Heri Pemad Art Management (HPAM), founders of ART|JOG, since its conceptualization four years ago JAW has quickly evolved, this year’s program showcased 140 plus events.

“In the beginning many artists working in Yogyakarta needed presentation space. Both the infrastructure along with events were lacking. While ART|JOG quickly became popular, its capacity was inadequate to cater for the demand,” said Yogyakarta art visionary Heri Pemad. “So we invited galleries, art spaces, cultural and educational institutions, collectives and alternative spaces to create events at the same time as ART|JOG, aiming to accommodate as many artists as possible. The goal in mind, to create a unique cultural festival.”

"Wear You All Night" 2016, Sarah Choo Ching. "Supernatural" at Gajah Gallery. Image Richard Horstman“Wear You All Night” 2016 – Sarah Choo Ching. “Supernatural” at Gajah Gallery.

In 2015 the first JAW event featured a smattering of events in a number of galleries and areas around Yogyakarta. 2016 and this year though, included the new and comprehensive JAW Guide Book. “Last year’s publication registered about 60 events, in 2017 however, listings tallied 147, and continued to grow on JAW’s website & social media,” Pemad said.

The 2017 JAW Guide Book, a free 207-page index brought added stimulus to traverse the far corners of the regency, while opening the big city up to visitors. Most of the activity was found in the South West in Bantul. Listings included exhibitions, performances, music events, film screenings, cultural festivals, tours, and a diverse array of workshops including photography, ceramic painting, collage, batik with electric canting tools, Japanese Shibori tie dye techniques and installation making. This year’s publication also catalogued 40 different museums in the region.

"Shadow Dance" #18, 2017, 200 x 400 cm. Nyoman Erawan. "Linkage" OHD Museum. Image R. Horstman“Shadow Dance” #18, 2017, 200 x 400 cm – Nyoman Erawan. “Linkage” OHD Museum, Magelleng

As the main draw card of JAW, this year celebrating its tenth edition with ART|JOG|10 Changing Perspective, every year additional foreigners and art industry insiders experience Indonesia’s oldest art fair, with it’s unique model that supports artists over galleries. This extraordinary grassroots event evolves each year, its new venue, the Jogja National Museum (JNM) practically, and historically a precise match with the event. The JAW Guide Book functioned perfectly as a hands-on information source, and while professionally organized art tourism is in its infancy in the country, the Guide Book is a bonus to the sustainability of the local art eco-system. Such supporting infrastructure aids the development of art tourism in Yogyakarta, which inevitably becomes a model for other parts of the Indonesia.

“Initially we believed that the popular idea of city branding during ART|JOG and JAW was the responsibility of the government as the increased tourism helps drive the local and wider economies,” Pemad said. “HPAM requested financial support for the making of the guide-book, and finally this year the Yogyakarta Cultural Office agreed to help sponsor its implementation.”

20170518_111858            Made Mahendra Mangku “The Gift” at Sangkring Art Space

One of the JAW highlights involved the hour and a half journey to Magelleng for the annual opening at the OHD Museum. Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the museum founded by the leading patron of Indonesian art, Dr Ooi Hong Djien, Linkage celebrated 51 Indonesia artists who had been a part of the museum’s collection for over two decades. Twenty-four artists were invited to create new works that were presented alongside their older works. This exhibition of outstanding quality attracted many international visitors, works by Ivan Sagita, Nyoman Erawan, Handiwirman Saputra, along with others underlining the uniqueness of the OHD collection.

Amok Tanah Jawa was an exhibition of paintings and installations by East Javanese artist Moelyono, known for his interactions with traditional artists highlighting subversive narratives, in collaboration with Yusuf Muntaha. Featured were paintings of excellent technical precision, along with in-depth investigation of East Javanese performance art at Lenggeng Art Foundation. Wood, leaves, rattan and mending (Chinese water chestnut) were the medium of historical, educational and environmental exploration by Nindityo Adipurnomo, Adek Dimas Ajisak, Maharani Mancanagara and Zulfian Amrullah in Meraka-reka at Galerie Lorong.

"Pengantin Revolusi" 2017 Moelyono. "Amok Tanah Jawa" Langgeng Art Foundation Image R Horstman“Pengantin Revolusi”, 2017 – Moelyono “Amok Tanah Jawa” Langgeng Art Foundation

Nancy Nan’s Red Base Art Foundation has quickly established its presence in Indonesia, it highlighted photography with two separate exhibitions, Processione Dei Misteri by Anastasia Darsono and RAW by foreigner Vanessa Van Houten.   West Sumatran Sakato Art Community presented their 6th annual exhibition Bakaba. Themed IndONEsia, and at the Jogja Gallery, well-known members exhibited with their counterparts. Open for one month, exploring ideas of what it means to be an Indonesian artist, this was one of the strongest collective showings during JAW. Works by Gusman Heraldi, Jumaldi Alfi and Erizal were noteworthy, while artists such as Dwita Anja Asmara, Fika Ria Santika, Zulfirman Syah, Tariq Muntaha reveal enormous talent within Sakato.

Balinese artist and long-term Yogyakarta resident Putu Sutawijaya and his Malaysian wife Jenny have created an important community complex Sangkring which presented 3 separate exhibitions. Following on from last year’s Jogja International Miniptint Biennale #2, Jogja Editions Print Fair displayed selected graphic works, both conventional and contemporary from Indonesian and international artists at the Sangkring Art Project. The Gift celebrated the tenth anniversary of Sangkring Art Space and featured a selection of some of the Indonesia’s finest, including eleven Balinese artists. Included were Nasirun, Ugo Untoro, Sutjipto Adi, Made Djirna, Mangu Putra and Yunizar. Bale Banjar, the latest addition to Sangkring, featured BergerakYogya Art Annual #2 a strong and diverse showcasing of over 40 local artists.

Agung Prabowo - Seven colors linocut print on washi paper, 2017. Jogja Editions Print Fair, Sangkring Art Project. Image R. HorstmanAgung Prabowo – Seven colors linocut print on washi paper, 2017. Jogja Editions Print Fair, Sangkring Art Project

Gajah Gallery is renowned for presenting not only Indonesian, yet regional contemporary art into Asia, and beyond. Taking advantage of the captive international and local audience Gajah surveyed some of Singapore’s best in the group exhibition Supernatural, at their Yogyakarta complex. Presenting a level of quality that set it apart, it featured 18 Singaporean artists exploring ways in which their practices meditate with the perceptions of nature, reality and belief systems. Incredible depth, including Sarah Choo Jing, Zen Teh, Ruben Pang, to name a few, while Ng Joon Kiat’s Untitled Cities 3, 2016 his 3-dimensional abstract composition inspired by his fascination with maps and Asia’s vastly changing terrains and territories, is a masterwork.

As a university city, Yogyakarta attracts the youthful, energetic talent of ethnic groups from all over the country. The depth of this is cultural diversity translated into enormous array of creative expressions and the long list of musical events and performances during JAW was world-class, along with being a HPAM organizational feat. JNM hosted daily ART|JOG music and performance events, while many others within the JAW program were hosted around the city. Special mention goes to Satan Jawa, the silent black and white movie directed by Garin Nugroho, with live gamelan orchestra and music composed by Rahayu Supanggah. On a closing note was the charity tribute group exhibition at the Tanah Liat Museum for the iconic Yogyakarta artist S Teddy Darmawan (1976-2016), who passed away last year after a long battle with cancer.

20170519_184023               Ruben Pang from the exhibition “Supernatural” at Gajah Gallery

The development of Indonesian art has suffered greatly due to the lack of institutional and government support, along with local galleries without strong international business models.

Infrastructure like JAW, and especially ART|JOG which has now become the ‘voice’ of Indonesian contemporary art, defining its unique character, helps consolidate Yogyakarta onto the global art map. First time visitors are guaranteed many wonderful surprises! JAW is a boon for the region, and a repeat destination for collectors and art lovers.

20170520_094728 PemangkasanHandiwirman Saputra – Bakaba #6 Sakato Art Community, Jogja National Gallery

Ali Umar by Ali Umar, 400 pen sketches on paper & sculptures 1997-2017 during JAWAli Umar by Ali Umar, 400 pen sketches on paper & sculptures, 1997-2017, during JAW

"Above, 2016 - Willy Halaman, Banjar Bale during JAW  Above, 2016 – Willy Halaman,  Bergerak – Yogya Art Annual #2, Bale Banjar, during JAW

20170519_184112Untitled Cities 3, 2016 – Ng Joon Kiat, in the exhibhtion Supernatural at Gajah Gallery

 

www.jogjaartweeks.com

Words & Images: Richard Horstman