Simon Lee Gallery, London is pleased to present a series of new paintings by Indonesian artist Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo. In these works, he pours volcanic ash and resin on plexiglass to create abstract compositions profoundly connected with his homeland. This will be the artist’s first solo show in the UK since 2010.
Arin is first and foremost a painter, dedicated to pushing the medium’s boundaries with innovative techniques. His dynamic compositions are inspired as much by his homeland, as by Japanese manga, comic books and science fiction. Arin’s broad and far reaching interests, inspirations and techniques have resulted in a diverse body of work – the common thread is a proud celebration of and dedication to the medium and act of painting.
Argo, which translates from Javanese to ‘mountain’, is the culmination of Sunaryo’s most recent experience and exploration of the mountains of Indonesia. The mountainous region of Bandung where the artist also lives and works, is a significant feature of the landscape of the country, symbolising Javanese culture, spirit and identity.
Over the past several years, the artist has adopted an increasingly conceptual approach to painting, using his chosen medium to preserve and embody the Javanese experience of nature. In preparation for this new series of works, Sunaryo spoke to residents of places local to the Merapi Volcano, infamous for its violent eruptions over centuries of Central Javanese history. Their emotional memories of the eruption and how it has impacted their lives and the landscape of the surrounding areas led him to source ash from volcanic mountains across Java and Bali. The intimate process of gathering anecdotes enables the artist to form a deeper connection with his native land and the materials with which he works.
Argo is a continuation of the Ash series (2012). Similarly to this earlier body of work, Sunaryo continues to explore the medium of ash. Once sourced, the volcanic substance is mixed with resin and poured onto plexiglass, before finally being mounted on wood. The resin is transformed into a binding and preserving agent, while unique pigments are created as a result of the amalgamation of the two materials. Multiple layers are poured to create varied planes within the painting, which generates a multi-dimensional quality and echoes the sensibility of molten magma. Each layer is carefully superimposed over time, resulting in a flat, pristine, and unified composition. Sunaryo’s intensive technique is captured in a video on display in the exhibition. Both paintings and process represent the preservation of memory and document the artist’s ever-changing natural surroundings.