Art What! Arts Preview

Art What!: How Are We Doing? at Mizuma Gallery

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought devastation to many aspects of our lives around the globe. It has gone beyond being a health issue, causing a huge impact on the global economic, social, political, and cultural fabrics. Most importantly, it has changed our lifestyles, our priorities in life, and the perspective on how we look at our lives. For example, the habit of handshakes has become increasingly uncommon, and is now replaced by friendly hand gestures from a distance. In Indonesia, the rapid growth of travel-related apps has been replaced by investment apps – mainly due to the travel restrictions, and the young generation realising that their financial security is actually very vulnerable.

Entang Wiharso, 29.7.2021 in the Rock Garden (details), 2021, acrylic, glitter, charcoal powder, polyurethane on canvas, 275 × 200 cm © Entang Wiharso, courtesy of the artist and Mizuma Gallery.

The pandemic has also become a catalyst for digital transformation in many aspects of our lives. Shopping, working, medical consultation, celebration of festivities, art exhibition, auction sales, and other activities are now commonly done online. In short, this pandemic situation has become the start for our new way of life.

Heri Dono, Farewell Couple Called to Heaven, 2021, resin, electric device, telephone, concrete, dimensions variable © Heri Dono, courtesy of the artist and Mizuma Gallery.

Artworks are the manifestation of artists’ perspective and sensibility towards life and things around it. When an artist goes through significant changes in their life, their artworks will naturally change alongside. Some artists have taken on this pandemic as a new source of inspiration for the narrative of their artworks, in the sense that it triggers a new perspective on how they look at the relationship between themselves and the life around them.

Iswanto Soerjanto, Drifted #5, 2021, cyanotype on Montval paper, 110 × 152 cm (diptych, each 110 × 76 cm) © Iswanto Soerjanto, courtesy of the artist and Mizuma Gallery.

Surely, this pandemic has also brought a huge impact on the economic situation of many artists. This has led to various interesting responses, for example, some artists are making smaller-sized series of artworks, while others are exploring the possibilities of making print works. Collaborations between artists or between artists and non-artists are also increasingly popular. Artists have become more active on social media, promoting their works or artistic activities, or just sharing their artistic points of view.

Iwan Effendi, Masked, 2021, papier-mâché mask, washi, charcoal, soft pastel on paper, 82 × 70 × 8 cm © Iwan Effendi, courtesy of the artist and Mizuma Gallery.

There are now also a lot more art merchandise products being sold on social media. Consciously or unconsciously, this whole transformation has expedited the democratization of art, giving easier access to more people to get close to, experience, and collect art. The restriction on physical mobility and the slowdown of art activities have given artists an abundance of spare time to rethink their artistic practice and to explore new possibilities, new mediums, new techniques, new interests and hobbies, even new approaches to art making.

indieguerillas, Cosmic Dance, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 200 × 600 cm (triptych, each 200 × 200 cm) © indieguerillas, courtesy of the artist and Mizuma Gallery.

Through the works of six artists in this exhibition, we observe the relation between the changes in life brought about by the pandemic and the artists’ creative practice and their artworks. After all, the situation that we are undergoing right now could be a big momentum for how art will develop in the future.

Albert Yonathan Setyawan, Hypnagogia – Inside Looking In (Stairs), 2020, gouache on paper, 69.6 × 50 cm (unframed), 89.3 × 69 × 3.3 cm (framed) © Albert Yonathan Setyawan, courtesy of the artist and Mizuma Gallery.

How are we doing? runs from 4th September to 10th October 2021 at Mizuma Gallery. More information available here

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