Arya Dipa – The Jakarta Post
Bandung, West Java | Tue, September 18, 2018 | 09:06 am
Selasar Sunaryo Art Space (SSAS), formerly known as Selasar Seni Sunaryo, celebrated its 20th anniversary on Sept 15 in Bandung. To mark the event, the gallery is holding an exhibition by Sunaryo titled “Lawangkala”, which will run until Dec. 23.
Sunaryo, who graduated from Bandung Institute of Technology’s (ITB) School of Arts and Design, presented a body of contemplative work. “Wrapping and tying became patching and sewing. It is all up for interpretation. I hope someday a patch is no longer necessary,” he said at the beginning of a press tour for the exhibition.
In 1998, Sunaryo opened up his gallery with an exhibition titled “The Inferno”, showcasing installations and paintings wrapped with black fabric and tied with mattress straps. It was said to be born out of his restlessness in regard to uncertainties in the country’s politics as well as how the country seemed to be going nowhere after president Soeharto stepped down.
“The New Order made me feel agitated,” Sunaryo said, who decided to close up his works with black fabric as a symbol of mourning.
Twenty years later, in the same place, Sunaryo invited his guests, most of them journalists, to step into the gallery’s main room through a bamboo tunnel. The tunnel, which went through the gallery and ended in the outdoor area, was named Lawangkala, or the door of time.
The artist was inspired by bubu, environmentally-friendly bamboo fish traps that are still widely used in Indonesia. According to Sunaryo, once inside the trap, there’s no way out.
“There’s an entry and exit point but time is not linear. Life is not straight, there are choices. The universe consists of causes and effects,” he said.
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Going through the tunnels that seemed to split up the gallery’s building, guests faced darkness. Light bounced from mirrors beside the tunnels, but views were still limited. The only direction to move was forward, to walk through the winding hallways; just like how people go through life, with no option to turn back time.
Sunaryo’s other works in the exhibition are showcased in the B and wing room, on the lower floor of the main room.
Curator Agung Hujatnikajenong said Sunaryo’s works were full of symbols and came from personal interpretations.
“His sensibility is something empirical. His experiences are instantly absorbed and then transformed subjectively. He can present something dark as a poetic thing. Abstracts are his thing,” said Agung on the exhibition.
Sunaryo said his gallery was meant as an incubator for artists to develop and prepare themselves prior to releasing their works for the public. “I hope it can inspire the creation of similar spaces. We need this kind of incubator. It would be overwhelming for [art students] who just graduated to instantly work in the real world. We provide mentoring and curatorial process to prep them,” he said.
The gallery, for the first time in twenty years, charges entry fees at Rp 15,000 (US$ 1) to 25,000 ($1.67). Free entry is offered to seniors and children aged 5 and under.
“Whether to charge visitors has been an ongoing discussion. But even without fees people were still reluctant to come. In our first year, there were only 1,000 visitors. Now there are almost 40,000 visitors a year,” Sunaryo added. (wng)