(b. 1973, Indonesia)
One of the founding members of the Jendela art group, Rudi Mantofani is an Indonesian contemporary artist known to incorporate the unexpected in his work. He aims to challenge the intellect by instilling questions in the viewer, demanding their examination and interpretation. In the form of both painting and sculpture, he usually transforms the iconography of ordinary objects and landscapes into puzzling visual riddles. This overturning of reality is done with daring visual ploys such as flattening the pictorial space through heavy repetitions or creating illusions of three-dimensionality.
To Rudi, all things must have communicative power as well as a life of its own, which humans do not need to understand. Since the time of the Industrial Revolution, humans developed objects with functional content, such that our understanding of them becomes limited to their utility value. In challenging this obsessive need for purpose, Rudi’s objects either lack function or have unimportant ones. The surprise element of his work hinges on the viewer’s expectation of function. He is hence, highly visually literate as he continually explores ways to create objects that play by their own rules.
Although the image of unexpected may seem discomforting at first sight, Rudi expresses his passion for improvement. His ideal to live in a better world shows through his landscape paintings, in which the world would be utopian if not for a disappearing branch or a surrealistic cut in the canvas. For the artist, humanity has the power to create change, and the responsibility to improve our surroundings rests in each of us.
In 1993, Rudi, along with four other west Sumatran artists, helped to form the Jendela Art Group. They studied together in Yogyakarta and continue to produce works that steer away from strong political positions. In sharp distinction from the predominantly ideological and jarringly incisive works that emerged during the 1990s, Rudi and the Jendala artists learn more towards the ambivalent and allegorical.