(b. 1985, Indonesia)
Ruth Marbun is a visual artist based in Jakarta, whose work has been exhibited across Indonesia, Singapore and Australia. She initially trained in and worked for Singapore’s fashion industry, but Marbun eventually chose to pursue art, which led her in search of a community back home.
Having lived most of her life in metropolises, people and imaginary creatures have always been a part of her memory’s landscape, visualized and deconstructed through her use of paint, printmaking, layers of fabric and unapologetic sewing. Marbun’s work captures the complexity of human thought, our behavior and emotions, and reflects these in the form of questions and a sense of discomfort. She features imperfections as strengths, emphasizing humanity’s perseverance and adaptability.
In her search for a community, Ruth Marbun’s works explore mankind’s ability to connect with each other, whether emotionally, spiritually or intellectually. Her practice attempts to capture these connections, observing and highlighting the unspoken, undervalued and mostly forgotten elements from the mundanity of life. She traces a connection between life’s phenomena, no matter how small, and looks at it as a ‘butterfly effect’ – an unending chain reaction where one event impacts the next, and so on.
Marbun’s works tell the story of the human condition: our perseverance and adaptability, our strengths and vulnerabilities, and our collective tribulations and moments of joy. As she emphasizes the individual human experience, she looks at imperfections as strength, marks of honesty and an acceptance of one’s flaws. This manifests as abstract figurative paintings that are irregularly shaped and produced, and compositions that do not fully cover initial sketch marks or mistakes. Her paintings thus reflect the layers of memories, decisions and risks involved in each work’s creation, finding comfort in disproportion.