Gajah Gallery proudly presents a preview solo exhibition of the late Indonesian artist, Semsar Siahaan. Undoubtedly the most prominent artist to come out of Indonesia, he stood out for his strength and resilience in shedding light on critical sociopolitical themes, not only through his career as an artist but also as a social activist. Entitled Points of View, the exhibition will be held at Gajah Gallery Yogyakarta from 18 November – 15 December 2016.
This feature showcase will act as a prologue to the upcoming retrospective solo exhibition of Semsar Siahaan, which will take place in Gajah Gallery Singapore in April 2017.
For Semsar, the practice of art making is not done for the mere sake of art. Instead, to him this practice is his form of resistance towards the injustice and repression of human rights in Indonesia at the time. In accordance to this, the artworks he produced almost always spoke a language of discontent and resistance. One of his most renowned work for instance, is a site-specific installation that took the form of an empty graveyard in the middle of a gallery floor in Taman Ismail Marzuki Jakarta. Entitled Penggalian Kembali (To Dig Up Again), this installation was exhibited as part of the 9th Jakarta Visual Art Biennale in 1993 and it represents the suffering of the people oppressed by the authoritarian regime at the time.
This being said, the six works to be shown in this mini exhibition is to convey a similar line of critique and social activism. The famed mixed media installation G8 Pizza for instance is touching upon themes of humanitarian issues that was presented through a global perspective. G8 Pizza undoubtedly delivers an insinuation on the role of G8 as an association of the world’s leading economies and their attitude towards developing countries. Created towards the last few years of his life, G8 Pizza was painted on the surface of used cardboard which he found on the streets of Canada, where he once resided. Taking on the same tone as his previous works, G8 Pizza also depicted a rather solemn color palette.
Semsar Siahaan is a significant and heroic figure in the history of Indonesian art, and his works as well as his career as an artist and social activist is a discourse worth commemorating and re-examining.
Fortunately, we can relive these precious traces of his struggles once again through the Picturing Politics exhibition. They are clearly portrayed on his paintings but also on his works of charcoal on found cardboard a medium of art which reflects both who he is as an artist and where he stood politically.
Nevertheless, in whatever medium he chose to work in, what remains consistent throughout his career is the visual language in which his works speak of. Semsar’s art is always intended to immortalize humanism and it always exudes a sense of realism. Like the courageous activist fighter that he is, his works are bold and they never tire from expressing critiques towards injustice.