Realities in Flux features nine established and upcoming artists from Indonesia and Singapore, unveiling a diverse display of works that express each artist’s unique and evolving realities—from their complex interiorities; locales and contexts; to perceptions of the histories and social issues close to them. Ranging from abstract, figurative to conceptual, the artists in the show are varied in their themes and artistic approaches, yet, shown together, fresh threads and connections among them emerge. Ultimately, the artists offer a deeper insight into the nuances and dynamism of contemporary art in Southeast Asia—perpetually challenging the way viewers feel, see and think about a rapidly changing world around them.
Indonesia-based artists Erizal As and Ibrahim test the boundaries of abstract expressionism to explore the depths of their inner worlds, which underwent particularly drastic, unexpected changes over the course of the pandemic. The two artists master colour and texture to convey emotions, both subtle and explosive, that are otherwise impossible to translate into literal words or realistic works. Yunizar, though he depicts recognisable objects and figures in his work, similarly employs an intuitive, affective
approach in his childlike paintings to capture the singular rasa, or the essence and spirit, of his everyday subjects.
The narrative works of Bali-based Ashley Bickerton and Yogyakarta-based Rosit Mulyadi employ figuration and traditional painting techniques to examine distinctly contemporary realities in their contexts, and how these have affected their ever-changing self-identities. A westerner living in Bali, Bickerton is hypercritical of his place on the island as he navigates and depicts an intoxicating tourist culture, constructed to feed the western ideal of ‘paradise’. In distorting and obscuring Old Master works in art history
with paint and text, referencing the ‘remix culture’ of the Internet, Mulyadi, on the other hand, explores how the digital age has fragmented our truths and self-reflections.
Indonesia-based Rudi Mantofani and Singaporean artists Jane Lee, Suzann Victor and Mahalakshmi Kannappan turn to a more conceptual approach, oftentimes blurring boundaries between painting and sculpture, to radically shift our perceptions: whether in re-seeing poetry in the materials and mundane world around us; re-examining the relevance of Western art history icons; to translating complex socio-political themes in the region, from post-colonialism to violence against women, into moving aesthetic visions. As they provoke audiences to rethink our fixed ways of seeing, Mantofani, Lee, Victor and Kannappan open up richer, more fluid ways of understanding our present.