Mural Paintings by Eko Nugroho
7/1/2013 – Contemporary Indonesian Artists, Jompet Kuswidananto and Eko Nugroho display their work at the NGV.
From my previous visit to the National Gallery of Victoria, I discovered a contemporary exhibition titled Rally that presents the works of two Indonesian artists, Jompet Kuswidananto and Eko Nugroho. The exhibition features a range of contemporary mural paintings and installations as well as digital media that explore’s Indonesia’s cultural, political and historical heritage, as referenced by the NGV Official website.
As I walked down the passageway to the gallery space, I had recognised several flags that were attached to the ceiling; there was one flag in particular that featured quite an interesting composition. I was definitely intrigued by the illustration; the flag features two unusual characters who appear to be using the skull as a football. The characters use their feet to transfer the skull from one person to the other; if you look closely at the image you can see that the characters also create a basic outline of a skull. As soon as I recognised this particular design, I did not hesitate to walk right into the exhibition.
Flag for the Rally Exhibition
I was amazed when I walked into the gallery space, each wall was decorated with mural paintings that featured a vibrant and stylistic design. Nugroho’s work does feature very unusual characters that are emphasised through the strong use of line, tone and composition. The skull was a very popular image within the artist’s murals and I began to question whether the skull has any significant meaning or purpose within the exhibition.
Installations by Eko Nugroho & Video Installations by Jompet Kuswidananto
In almost every corner of the gallery, I had recognised a painting or an illustration of a skull. The NGV website explains that artist, Nugroho is inspired by Indonesian “street art and popular culture”, one may argue that Nugroho reflects the way the skull has become a prominent symbol within popular culture. The skull has become completely unavoidable within the visual culture, although I do find it rather interesting to see how to skull is interpreted within the contemporary gallery space.
Eko Nugroho & Jompet Kuswidananto in Rally Exhibition
I began to wonder whether Nugroho has used to skull to raise certain political issues within Indonesia? I am not too sure whether the skull is used as a symbol of death or whether the skull is used as another popular image? While there isn’t a great deal of information about the use of skulls within Nugroho’s work, I am determined to find out the answer to my question.
According to the NGV, Nugroho adopts a humorous and comical to his own subject matter; I would agree with this particular description as Nugroho applies an entertaining quality to his own work. Nugroho may provide a positive representation of death through the different colours, patterns and designs.
Nugroho’s work is also exhibited along with Kuswidananto’s audio and visual installations that also emphasises the contemporary Indonesian culture from a political perspective. Both Kuswidananto and Nugroho do work well within the gallery space; the audio installations also corresponds with the mural paintings on the wall. The large-scale installations on the other hand were visually appealing, as I walked around each installation I was then able to view the paintings on the wall. There weren’t small paintings by the way, these paintings covered the entire wall within the gallery space.
Paintings by Eko Nugroho
I decided to stand opposite the murals, I did feel incredibly small, the works on display provided a completely different perception of scale. Colour was another interesting quality within the exhibition; within the centre of the space was a creature / person who was covered in fluorescent pink flowers. This was definitely my favourite works within the exhibition, I couldn’t remove my eyes from the arrangement of flowers that covered the model’s body.
I then began to realise, that I have not seen another exhibition with contemporary Indonesian art and it is great to see the NGV promote artists from southeast Asia. The director of the NGV explains that “southeast asian artists” are becoming popular within contemporary art; hopefully this trend will develop within Melbourne.
Rally is a fantastic exhibition that is definitely worth the visit and it’s free for visitors of all ages! If you have an interest for contemporary asian art, make sure to plan your next visit to the NGV.
For further information please click on the links below.
“RALLY: Contemporary Indonesian Art – Jompet Kuswidananto & Eko Nugroho”, the National Gallery of Victoria, 2012, Accessed 14/1/13, http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/ngv-media?sq_content_src=%2BdXJsPWh0dHAlM0ElMkYlMkZ3d3cubmd2LnZpY