Exhibition

Noughties by Nature

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    June 29, 2024 – July 29, 2024

    Gajah Gallery Yogyakarta
    Indonesia

    This June, Gajah Gallery Yogyakarta presents a major group exhibition, Noughties by Nature: Contemporary Indonesian Art from Generation 2000 Plus, accompanied by an essay written by art critic Farah Wardani.

    The Noughties by Nature exhibition is an initiative from a long series of efforts to trace the origins of Indonesian art from the Generation 2000s. It presents various approaches, tendencies, and practices of artists from that era, then traces them back, or more precisely, conducts a comparative study with the Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru (GSRB or the New Art Movement), focusing particularly on two of its historical milestones in different periods: Pameran Seni Rupa Baru Indonesia initiated by the GSRB (1975 – 1979), and of course, the Pasaraya Dunia Fantasi (1987).

    The perspectives presented in this exhibition function as a tool of deconstruction, challenging the notion that the art world is an untouchable bubble unaffected by worldly events. By narrowing the focus from a global perspective to a specific regional context, this localised generational survey dissects how aesthetics adopted from popular culture have evolved significantly in various regions. This further proves that contemporary Indonesian art is no longer merely a replica of Western aesthetics or limited to ‘Pop Art,’ let alone the ‘isms’ of Western modern art.

    The main highlight of Noughties by Nature presents the dynamics of artistic practices among the new generation of Indonesian artists (2000s), which have successfully created a hybrid between popular culture and local elements. Through a kaleidoscopic lens, these artists reinterpret the reality of everyday life and then develop it by injecting elements of pop culture, local heritage, and global influences into their works. On the other hand, their works reflect the complex dynamics of post-reformation youth culture, where the echoes of Western multiculturalism and Indonesian values intertwine with the rhythm of modernity.

    One prominent figure in this exploration is Priyanto Sunarto, who stands out with his strong visual style, characterised by rough lines without shadows. His screen prints combine traditional motifs and deconstruct high art to explore and reflect on popular culture, ultimately defining Indonesian identity in his works. Basel-based artist Eddie Hara uses a cheerful, child-like colouring style inspired by the contemporary Cobra art movement in Europe, depicting the collapse of humanity due to war and the lack of distinction between humans and animals. He addresses political, gender, racial, and environmental issues with irony and humour. Bambang “Toko” Witjaksono, with a visual style typical of 60s Western pop art paintings, presents everyday stories in his works, filled with down-to-earth humour. His themes focus on consumerism and satire while maintaining a highly humanistic perspective. Uji “Hahan” Handoko Eko Saputro creates works that highlight the ongoing interaction between “high art” and “low art,” blending realism with decoration. His art critiques the structures and mechanisms of the commercial art world while acknowledging his involvement in it.

    Another key aspect of Noughties by Nature investigates how artists respond to and formulate their interpretations of popular culture, going beyond merely creating artworks that depict pop icons. This exhibition explores a deeper interpretation of the influence of popular culture on the art world, showcasing a rich, diverse local evolution deeply rooted in the cultural and social values of Indonesian society.

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