Four Young Contemporaries

⋅ Eko Nugroho

⋅ Natthawut Sing-Thong

⋅ Vincent Leong

⋅ Winner Jumalon

21 April – 19 May 2007

An exhibition focusing on the artistic phenomena of young contemporaries of Southeast Asia region. 

Eko Nugroho (Indonesia), Natthawut Sing-Thong  (Thailand), Vincent Leong  (Malaysia), Winner Jumalon  (Philippines)

Eko Nugroho  belongs to a generation of Indonesianartists such as Eddie Hara, Agung Kurniawan, Samuel Indratma, Popok Tri Whayudi and the Apotik Komik group, who communicate their ideas, often socially or politically critical, using comic illustrations. Eko’s comics appear in a variety of formats: comic books, murals, video clips, video animation, paintings, embroideries and performances. The creatures that inhabit his art give a fascinating insight into his working mind and their introspective dialogues are semi-autobiographical, culled from observations from within and without.

Eko’s comic books are divided into “komik lucu” (funny comics) and “komik tidak lucu” (not so funny comics). “Komik lucu” such as The Konyol were distributed during the recession (free of charge) to rickshaw peddlers, market sellers and other people on the street to cheer up those who were worst hit by the financial slump. An example of “Komik tidak lucu” is Fight Me, a small photocopied booklet. Even though it belongs under the category of “komik tidak lucu”, its visual discourse and its biting indictments of politics and culture are tongue-in- cheek. To have/own the booklet, the “buyer” is required to barter with or give something in return that is self/hand-made. Besides his self-authored comic books (since 1997), paintings, murals, videos, embroideries and performances, Eko started (and is president of) “Daging Tumbuh” in 2000, an active collaborative that has to date published twice-yearly comics compilations, and is now in its 10th edition, with a following across Indonesia and abroad in Singapore, Holland and Belgium.

When turning his comic figures into paintings, mural or acrylic on canvas, his stylistic approach is infulenced by narrative techniquse from comic books, movie posters, and cartoons, working, often humorously, in a single frame. Like advertising slogans, his language often takes a shortcut to meaning. The ten paintings made recently at his Rimbun Dahan residency are self-referential. The simplified Petronas Twin Towers inserted into the work set the paintings in a time and place. The description and images of the figures in the canvas are alien but the narrative values (the stories told) are familiar.

Eko’s embroideries are inspied by logos on unifroms of civil servants in Indonesia, the applique on ganasters “Leather gear or Levi’s, and bikers” clubs. I’m Lost in My Mind is the artist under stress, in search of an idea. He depicts himself in the pocket and on top of the half- block of a head. In Welcome Back Virus, his return from Holland last year is described as the return of a (good) virus, as his friends in Yogyakarta missed his infectious vibrant energy. He is currently making a large format embroidery, I Was not Here. The comic books, embroideries and paintings are sometimes anecdotes about power and corruption but mostly their narrative techniques deal humorously with the faits divers of modernity and its impact on Life in the country.

Noor Mahnun Mohamed.

— ⇔ — 


Some objects hold connotations of beliefs and associations of thought and those are an entrance of imagination to my inner condition.

Natthawut Sing-Thong

— ⇔ —

This is the second edition of the Tropical Paradise series. Mixing aesthetic styles of urban graffiti stenciling with traditional wallpaper design, Tropical Paradise G929 contains cliché imagery of Thailand. From Muay Thai to tuk-tuks, Buddah and Red Bull, TP G929 questions these icons used to sell Asian exotica. These traditional and pop imageries are usually used by the Tourism Board to provide visitors with a visual suggestion of its national uniqueness. Not forgetting the long history of wallpaper design in Thailand, TP G929 is an alternative view on this traditional art discipline.  Speed and convenience – which might be perceived as  Contemporary urban living issues – differentiates this work. With the more intricate hand-painted wallpapers found in temples and palaces around Thailand.

Vincent Leone

— ⇔ — 

DEFACEMENT by Patrick D. Flores

Looming in this exhibit is a large work of ordinary folk, a woman chanced upon in a market in Malaca, initially caught asleep, then awakened, and finally chagrined because she was roused from rest. The shifts in the habits of the body reveal subtle responser to the day’s travails, if not its drudgery, and are discerned by the camera and then reanimated on the canvas of Winner Jumalon. This kind of encounter usually reduces the subject to a type, and so rendering it typical, if not altogether romantic and sentimental. But fortunately the artist’s hand does not reduce this robust moment of seeming banality to the exoticism of common life. Rather, he lets it play out with in a process or in fact a project in which paint matters as much as portrait – and the discipline of portraiture. Here the woman does not end up as a picture, and becomes iconic and most probably picturesque; on the contrary, she turns out to be – or into – both a representation and an index of its formation. We see a figure because we are afforded a sight of figuration as well – and its afterlife.

Winner dwells on the face, which he probes as a currency, owing to its capacity to assume presence and to claim posterity, a future that defies what social scientists refer to as the “ethnographic present”. There is potency in the face; it fleshes out character, rank and class, personality. On the other hand, it is also frail, fully exposed, subject to misrecognition, even defilement. As it is beheld as spectacle of beauty by idolaters, so is it desecrated, a prey of iconoclasts. It is mere appearance, veneer, mask. But it is also substance and spirit. In many cultures, the face is essential, a trajectory into humanity. In the Filipino lexicon, it is mukha, derived from Sanskrit, and is cherished as a source of integrity. When one loses face, one loses almost everything; the performance of self loses its theater: its postura, porma, palabas. … Full article ⇒