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Essays
Interlocking the Memorabilia of Subject:
a Working Notes for the Show of Reciprocities
Words by Hamada Adzani
​     Meeting the artists who are showing in Reciprocities has encouraged me to re-question the aesthetic nature of art. If aesthetics are often associated with something nice and beautiful, how to categorize the connection built between the darker-themed works and the audience? For me, it is not merely a matter of taste. There are basic things that support such connection.
​     In general, fine arts and aesthetic studies have developed far beyond what Kantian thinkers have predicted. The modality of art continues to change: from its attachment to the medium (medium-based specific), to become dependent on the discussion (discourse-based specific), and now seems to be largely determined by concrete socio-cultural issues (context-based specific). The focus of the value also changes. Quoting from Bambang Sugiharto (2013) –the focus of value on art has changed from a matter of beauty, to a technical problem, then to a matter of meaning, and then again to the impact of sensation, and finally, to the process of mutual significance between the artist, the work, and the appreciators. This paradigmatic shift shows the resiliency of art in adjusting itself with social and cultural needs along with their alterations that occur in society. The significance between the artist, the work and the appreciator affect the sense of connection arises when appreciating the work. John Dewey saw a close connection between art and daily experience (Art as Experience). For him, art is rooted in the intense and intelligible experience, simply just like experiencing impressive food, as an example. The artwork also helps to formulate and to rearticulate human experience, teaching us how to look and to feel.
     Atreyu Moniaga, Ayu Rika, Izal Batubara, Triana Nurmaria, and Valdo Manullang bring up their personal chest of knowledge about their empirical experience to the public. After being accumulated, they are then presenting the symbolic form. There are times when the symbolic presentation seems subjective, but they also often look universal. In an even more concrete term, the tension within the self-complexity is drawn straightforwardly through the work of Triana Nurmaria and Atreyu Moniaga. Atreyu arranges the emotion among the objects very well in each of the work. He wants that every shape drawn congruously touches the audience. In his work, he carefully measures the composition –so that his medium of objects appear to be like a tangle of endless labyrinths.
     Shifting from the self-matter, the body becomes the main focus of Ayu Rika who examines the wounds on the surface of the skin. She sees the surface of the skin as a medium to store the memories as well as the tragedies experienced by women. Ayu Rika attempts to represent a number of events experienced by women. In contrast to Ayu Rika, Izal Batubara and Valdo Manullang seem to try to negate the reality and the will of representation. Izal attempts to detain his work from a single meaning and representation toward the object he assembled or in Kant's study of 'ethical autonomy'.
Ayu Rika, Backside, 2019, oil on canvas, 300 x 200 cm
     This departs from the experience when he was studying at university, where students must be able to connect their works with the elements of tradition. Izal wants his work to be free from the relationship between norms and values, even from values which originally attached to the object. The issue of negating reality also applies to Valdo Manullang's work. He obfuscates the text and the context in the Holy Bible. The play of a border of the sacred and the profanity in the style of Valdo has actually been practised for a long time, starting from citing the symbols portrayed in the verse to changing the subject.
     Looking at the works of the young artists from the Philippines, the four of them present such amazing artistic presentations. Through the 'hyper-realistic' expression presented by Don Bryan Bunag, Isko Andrade, Mark Leo Gornes Maac, and Marvin Quizon –it portrays their technical capability beyond average. In general, the theme of the works revolves around the relationship within the family and sentimental memories. Bunag and Andrade look at the relationship in the family as a determinant factor which affects their perception in life. Both are collecting the memorabilia artefacts with family, and renarrating them. Clothing collections are an artefact of memorabilia explored by Andrade –be it girls' clothing, adult women's clothing, military uniform, to wedding dresses. While Bunag emphasizing more on the aspect of time that is playing with human existence. As a child who grew up with his grandparents, he wants to capture the precious moments through his art practice. The images present by Andrade and Bunag show a melancholic feeling caused when the beloved people left us from this world.
Don Bryan Bunag, The Day I Discovered the World, 2019, oil on canvas, 101,60 x 172,72 cm
     Maac also consistently embeds the elements of radiant flowers in the grip of a teenage girl with a dress in his work. The details that Maac painted are too realistic that it disrupts the emotional connection between the audience and the work. In the same style, Marvin Quizon also embeds the metaphors which intersect with the themes of love, death, and sentimentality. Then he brushed off the surface of the canvas –raising the impression of vintage photos. Again, he creates memorabilia that build such moody and contemplative atmosphere.
Maac is taking a more personal theme. He highlights the expression of emotion through the metaphor of light. To him, the dynamic of light paves the way for the flexibility of the subject.
The artworks featured in Reciprocities are collaborative exhibition between the Indonesian and Philippine artists.
     The selected ones are the young artists who are now practicing on their art career. Unintentionally, everything departs from personal themes which are elaborated into a marker of memorabilia toward the experienced text and context. The trade-offs in collaborative work cannot be seen visibly. However, what is presented is one of many samples of the latest art trend between the two countries. What can be exchanged is the knowledge of the strategy of artistic visualization for the experience. The attachment between personal experiences, sentimental feeling combined with the artistic strategy of each artist has made their artworks becoming more relevant to us. The ideal art is to reach into the depth of intricate experience and is to communicate them through forms and images that hit the imagination, especially our inner senses. Their works are not merely seen as a form of expression which is presented in symbols, but rather to have storytelling and such a tenacious modus operandi.
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​Tirtodipuran Link

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Yogyakarta, Indonesia

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