Born and raised in two different parts of Java, artists Masdibyo and Gigih Wiyono brought out the best of their upbringing and cultures in the much-anticipated exhibition “Dua Kutub” (Two Poles) at the National Gallery in early January.
As visible through their artwork, society and environment had a major environment on the two artists. Though different, their art disciplines easily complemented each other as a visual reminder of the existence of nature, wrapped in harmony and love. The two men have also been friends for decades now, thus making their collaboration a natural thing to do.
Growing up in the northern coast of Tuban, East Java, Masdibyo is very familiar with the maritime culture and life of fishermen. Some 30 paintings he created between 2007 and 2017 spoke of the local wisdom of the northern side of Java.
Meanwhile, the Sukoharjo, Central Java-born Gigih Wiyono showcased a series of paintings and sculptures inspired by his background growing up in a family of farmers. His works – comprising 23 paintings and nine sculptures created between 2013 and 2017 – revolved around myths of rice, fertility and motherhood.
Curated by M. Dwi Marianto, the exhibition broadly highlighted varying interpretations of the concept of a balanced contrast – the nature of microcosm and macrocosm, yin and yang, lingam and yoni, vertical and horizontal, positive and negative, among others. One visualised solitude, contemplation and singularity while the other spoke of communality, crowd and togetherness. In terms of character, the artworks also represented different views – minimalist v. complex, bright colours v. soft hues – seen as socio-cultural representation of today’s reality.
"We may have been friends for a long time, but there are things we would argue about. At the same time, we do agree about how we should present our different strengths and creativity on one stage, in order to spread positive energy,” said Masdibyo.
The exhibition broadly highlighted varying interpretations of the concept of a balanced contrast – the nature of microcosm and macrocosm, yin and yang, lingam and yoni, vertical and horizontal, positive and negative, among others.
-Dua Kutub Exhibition
Masdibyo’s painting titled “Koruptor Dibuang ke Laut Diadili Ikan Laut Dalam”, “Malima” series, as well as the t-shirt installation bearing the text “Koruptor Dilarang Membeli Lukisan Karya Masdibyo” are daring voices against abuse of power and injustice.
Through Gigih Wiyono’s paintings, which are dominated by creative portraits of woman and leaves, one learned of relations between mother and children, and the concept of prosperity. Take, for example, “Keadilan Sosial Bagi Seluruh Rakyat Indonesia” (Social Justice for All Indonesians), “Mother” and “Dewi Sri” (Rice Goddess).
“The exhibition could serve as an oasis of artistic illuminations, where we create collective consciousness of the community to view life in a heterogeneous perspective, away from riots and materialistic pragmatism. Appreciation of an artwork is the gateway to finding balance in life," Wiyono said.