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Art and Design

Arin Dwihartanto’s artistic
exploration

Amid the vibrancy of the Indonesian art scene, Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo is an artist who stands out with his continuous experiments to push the boundaries of painting. Born in 1978, he has indeed shifted the norms of conventional painting into work that neither he nor his curator are sure of classifying at the opening of his fifth solo exhibition, the second with pigmented resin.

When his solo show in 2010, which consisted of colorful works made with resin, received a warm welcome, he could have taken a break and produced similar works. But instead Arin, who is a seeker of sorts, sought to give more perfection to works that he considered too flat. Now, hardly two years later, his fifth solo show, the second using pigmented resin, comes with a new invention through the inclusion of photographic images obtained by fixing a digital print as a new layer in the piece of art. Vaguely visible patches of digital print in the form of a human hand or body part give the required depth.

Looking at Arin’s extremely smooth and glossy surfaces with a color mix of “cmyk”, which stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black, everyone can indulge their own imagination. In one work, the yellow splash looks like a hibiscus in the Garden of Eden, in another work it could be a landscape of distant lands.

Titled “Frozen Stratum”, these images show not only the artist’s drive for experimentation, but also a mood of pondering of the mediums he is using. He had come to be aware that resin has been an age old medium of fixation (glue) and preservation. It was an element shared with painting, photography, drawing and the like, which all try to preserve the image.

But it is his works made with the ash of the Merapi volcano that really strikes a chord. Mostly monochromatic but rendered in various subtle gradations, a sense of the artists’ emotion and melancholic mood is tangible. This is something new to his otherwise unemotional but beautiful works. Arin says he was shocked at the volcano’s eruption and went all the way from Bandung to the Yogyakarta eruption site to gather and preserve the ash that would inspire him to make works in memory of the disaster.

Preservation was also in Arin’s mind when he pulled together the residue of his resin works and made a column out of it. For a long time he had been bogged down by the waste that came along with his work in resin. The solution then came with the idea to recycle the residue and make new work out of it. Maybe it would not be a bad idea to make more columns of this kind. Perhaps he could build the house of the future?

Arin started to experiment with painting when wondering whether oil paint and the brush were the only medium to paint. He then started to leave his brushes behind, agitating the canvas in different directions through his hands and body movements, allowing the paint to free fall. But as the layered oil on the canvas took too long to dry, he began to seek other ways. By accident he discovered resin as a substitute. Resin is an industrial material and fitted well with the spirit of the time. Composed of synthetic liquid, it only needs a few days to harden into a solid transparent material.

He had never imagined resin could take him to artistic heights, but it did. Resin was such an unpredictable material, he said, as it flowed in directions where it could not be stopped. Arin revealed he never knew what the end result would be, and this was an exciting feat. Then he discovered that when it hardened and dried, it would peel off, resulting in unusual visual characters on the flat base on which it had been poured. So he decided to a reverse the first layer that usually lay on the bottom and have it face the viewer.

As Arin continues to explore and experiment there is no saying where this will ultimately take him artistically. While he started exploring the boundaries of conventional painting, he revealed at the opening night of his exhibition that he would not be able to give these works a certain classification. No doubt this is not the end of his experimental journey.

Arin lives and works in Bandung, a city where he went to school and was taught the basics of painting. He was fortunate enough to be sent to London, where he studied at the Saint Martin College of Art and Design.

Frozen Stratum
A solo exhibition
by Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo
Until March 5
Nadi Gallery
Jl. Kembang Indah III Blok G3,
no. 4-5
Puri Indah, Jakarta 11610
Phone +62 21 5818129

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