ArgoSimon Lee Gallery, London, UK4 April - 1 June 2019
ROH Argo

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.

ROH Argo

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.

Born 1978, Bandung, Indonesia
Lives and works in Bandung, Indonesia

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo received a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting from the Bandung Institute of Technology (2001) and a Master’s of Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London (2005). Sunaryo is interested in the utilization of resin as a medium that captures minerals, pigments, and other particles in various states of flux within a sense of stasis. Working initially with more industrial pigments, he has more recently worked with volcanic ash, perishable food ingredients, as well as crude palm oil and converted them into his own distinctive pigments.

Sunaryo’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions in Southeast Asia, Europe, the UK, and USA, including No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA (2014). Selected solo exhibitions include Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo: New Paintings at Art Basel OVR: Portals presentation by ROH Projects (2021); ARGO at Simon Lee Gallery, London, UK (2019); after taste at Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney, Australia (2017); Silent Salvo at ARNDT Gallery, Berlin, Germany (2015); and group shows include External Entrails at Silverlens New York, New York, USA (2022); IRL at Art Basel OVR: 2020 (2020); Ripples: Continuity in Indonesian Contemporary Art at Taipei Dangdai, Taiwan (2019); These Painter’s Painters at ROH Projects, Jakarta, Indonesia (2018); iris at Silverlens Galleries, Manila, Philippines (2018); ω at Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong (2017); Biennale Jogja XIV: Age of Hope in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2017); Constituent Concreteness at Mizuma Gallery, Singapore (2017); Lines of Flight at Gallery Exit, Hong Kong (2017); Lompat Pagar/Crossing Borders at National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia (2015); Marcel Duchamp in Southeast Asia, Equator Art Project, Gillman Barracks, Singapore (2012); and Manifesto, National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia (2008). Sunaryo was nominated as a Finalist for Best Emerging Artist using Painting by the Prudential Eye Awards in 2015; and a Finalist in the Sovereign Asia Art Prize in 2010. 

Copyright belongs to The Artist

Text by Simon Lee Gallery

Photography by Ben Westoby

Courtesy of The Artist, Simon Lee Gallery, and ROH