Valdo Manullang


Born in Jakarta, 1990

Portrayals of saints in paintings were common in the Baroque era, and indeed this period also becoming a part of the creative strategy used by Valdo Manullang (b. 1990) and which inspired his artistic style up to this point.

At the earliest part of his career, Valdo took Christian saints as the vocal point of his painting – but he notably replaced the original imagery of such characters with modern female figures.

Valdo's mode of playing with the line between the sacred and the profane is an interesting thing to note. If in the beginning he replaced the object - now Valdo is interested in re-quoting verses in the Bible. He reverses the logic of syllogism (if = then) in the text of the verse of the Bible and visualizes it with elements of popular culture. In Luke 15: 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The logic game starts here. If the Bible says so, then Valdo reverses the logic with the question "if there is someone who commits sin, then how many hell-dwellers rejoice?" Valdo visualizes it by painting sheep and mannequins in uniforms in the Victorian era. The heads of the soldiers are covered with balloons and octopus tentacles. Among the objects are castles, musical instruments and Renaissance ornaments. In Christian belief, sheep are human imagery. While the black color for him is a symbolism of darkness.

The choice of objects, ornaments, and analogy of Valdo in his work this time is closely related to German expressionism. This flow was popular at the beginning of the 20th century which required simplicity of form and dominance of black and white to seem like gothic. Initially, the young artist chose conte powder (charcoal) as the sole material in his artwork creating process, resulting in a striking black & white visual. He then rendered striking realist objects with the help of simple tools; cotton pads and cotton buds. Over time, Valdo's monochromatic works began to include some more colors as he experiments with oil paint. The result is equally striking, but with additional touch of subtlety from the oil colors.