Gajah Gallery proudly presents a solo exhibition of the late Indonesian artist, Semsar Siahaan, entitled Semsar Siahaan: Art, Liberation. An important figure in Indonesian art, 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.
Prominently featured in the development of Indonesian contemporary art and its fight against the despotism of the New Order regime, Siahaan envisaged art as signifying humanity’s liberation and in this vein as touching all humankind. As he continued to utilize his art as a tool to protest the state of social injustice, he was infamous in representing the rebellious student art movement of the 1980s, as well as the various labor rights activism in the following decade.
He departed from Indonesia (1998), fearing for his life, and he returned (2004). He traveled in Indonesia and Australia along with exhibitions of his art; he resided in Canada, creating and showing his art in Victoria. His paintings have been displayed in museums in Japan and Singapore; his art is modestly acquired and collected, privately and by public institutions.
Semsar’s art is always intended to immortalize humanism and it always exudes a sense of realism. Semsar Siahaan. Art, Liberation displays a range of works spanning the 1980s to about 2004, including the frequently mentioned but rarely exhibited Olympia: Identity with Mother and Child and the magnificent G-8 Pizza – the last monumental work created towards the end of his oeuvre.
The particularity of his art’s content is one which appeals to a kind of transcendent or universal humanism. Like the courageous activist fighter that he is, his works are bold and they never tire from expressing critiques towards injustice.