Platform STPI Projects (PSP) presents provocative works by Indonesia's widely exhibited international artist Entang Wiharso creates provocative works that speak volumes about the human condition.
From universal issues of power, loss and love to broader categories of ideology, philosophy and identity, Entang delivers personal reflections and social critique by integrating Javanese narrative tools of wayang kulit (shadow puppetry) with contemporary materials. Although Entang is known for his performance art and larger-than-life aluminium sculptures, reliefs and installations; ventures in the two-dimensional forms of painting, drawing and print have remained an abiding practice of his.
Never Say No presents the sheer diversity and scale of Entang's latest project at STPI where alternative methods and materials like balloons, yarn, wires and nails were used in the print and papermaking process. His experimentation with the multifaceted medium resulted in raw and compelling representations of the world, told through an instantly recognisable visual vocabulary of contorted, hybrid bodies – with slogans and icons of tropical plants, weapons and fences added to the mix. Yet his encounter with new materials at STPI has led the artist to develop fresh forms never before seen in his artistic oeuvre.
Entang came prepared to explore the nuances and possibilities of paper, arriving with number of molds used in previous metal relief works. Works such as Black Goat vs. Identity Crime and Aesthetic Crime: Comic Book Series, Home Sweet Home and Art as Gift: Comic Book Series are paper-cast reliefs of familiar imagery that has been given new meaning because of its extraction from a different material. "This reinvestigation produced works of a different feel. I came to see a resemblance between aluminium and paper, particularly in their 'softness'. Aluminium is the lightest and softest kind of metal, associated with 'domesticity' because of its widespread use in household items. This connects nicely with paper as a humble yet essential material of daily life," says Entang in an interview with Indonesian curator and writer Agung Hujatnikajennong.
Entang continued to explore customary themes of love and conflict at STPI with works like Under Protection for 24 Hours, where the artist and his American wife are depicted bound together by their long braids, with a rifle between them, and they are contained in a room away from the outside world int he background. A commentary on "violence and a heightened state of anxiety", the work is the artist's reflection on his own experiences in Indonesia where cultural and racial conflict is felt.
The greatest departure would be his four-panel work titled Self-Portrait – a composition of hundreds of acrylic tableaus, imprinted with images collected from the Internet. From snapshots of Margaret Thatcher and John Lennon to Iron Maideen, each piece provides a glimpse into moments close to Entang's memory. Resembling iPhones, this 'brick wall' is a projection of the self that, according to Entang, lacks authenticity in the presence of media technology. The idea of the 'brick wall' appears in the Decoded series as well – where he etched on thick cast paper, exploring the idea of borders, division and territory.
"The title Never Say No is about going against the tide of tradition or an entrenched mindset that controls our perception of what is possible and what exists. In these works, I am interested in the idea of 'pre-ownership' - about the condition of things before they were claimed and 'owned'. This has implications for many aspects of our lives, for example, our religious beliefs, national ideologies, and the canon of Western art history," says Entang.
A recipient of numerous awards and residencies – including a Pollock-Krasner grant, a Copeland Fellowship at Amherst College, and a summer residency at Robert Wilson's Watermill Center – Entang has exhibited throughout the world and represented Indonesia in major international biennales. Recent exhibitions include "Love: The First of the 7 Virtues", Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, New York (2015); Prospect.3, New Orleans (2014-15); Art Stage Singapore (2015, 2014); the 55th and 51st Venice Biennales (2013, 2005); Prague Biennale 6 (2013); "Panorama: Recent Art from Contemporary Asia" at the Singapore Art Museum (2012); and Biennale Jogja XI, Yogyakarta (2011-12). Entang is represented in numerous notable collections, including the Guy and Myriam Ullens Foundation, Switzerland; the Olbricht Collection, Germany; the Indonesian Art Institute, Yogyakarta; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, USA; and the Singapore Art Museum. Entang lives and works in Rhode Island, USA, and Yogyakarta, Indonesia.