Cut The Mountain And Let It FlyROH, Jakarta, Indonesia15 July - 13 August 2023
ROH Cut The Mountain And Let It Fly

ROH is pleased to present Cut The Mountain And Let It Fly, celebrated artist Eko Nugroho’s (b. 1977, Yogyakarta, Indonesia) first solo exhibition with the gallery, which considers the visual language and sociopolitical commentary he has been building throughout his more than two decades long artistic practice in an ambitious presentation of multidisciplinary works. 

Cut The Mountain And Let It Fly presents a new body of diverse sculptural works, including a monumental sculpture situated in conversation with works on paper, embroidery, painting, as well as an ephemeral site-specific mural enveloping a major section of the gallery space. Made mostly in the last five years, these works speak about the complex situation of today’s Indonesian everyday culture and politics as a growing democracy, while touching upon the fundamental human nature at the core of our existence.

ROH Cut The Mountain And Let It Fly

The title of the show, Cut The Mountain And Let It Fly, refers to Nugroho’s largest site-specific mural to date made in 2009 for the 10th Biennale de Lyon: The Spectacle of the Everyday. Held in Lyon, France, the work depicts a levitating mountain sliced in two which in the local context can be a humorous commentary towards Mooi Indie, a traditional Indonesian visual style dating back to colonial times. In this exhibition, the text Cut The Mountain And Let It Fly presents itself in the form of a t-shirt worn by a male figure portrayed realistically through the sculpture Everyone Building Hope as if hinting at the tradition’s past existence. 

ROH Cut The Mountain And Let It Fly

Half Hero Half Stone is a series consisting of twelve striking monochromatic sculptures interspersed throughout the Gallery Apple, taking the shapes of various figures Nugroho has made since the early days of his practice.

Underneath Gallery Orange’s skylight is We Are Human, a site-specific monumental sculpture depicting a five-legged robot upholding a spherical exoskeleton. The painterly patina suggests that the robot has weathered an arduous lifetime of its own, with pairs of eyes peeking out from the main body, alluding to today’s notion of looking in many directions simultaneously through various social media platforms.

Cut The Mountain And Let It Fly #2 acts as the backdrop of We Are Human, depicting mountainous figures in movement and conflict with each other, referring to the notion of “cut” as an act of assault. Aside from Everyone Building Hope, six life-sized figurative sculptures are interspersed throughout the gallery space, discussing topics such as labor and its potential device for enslavement.

An embroidery that Nugroho has included for the exhibition, Tak Ada Mati (There is No Death), was commissioned by writer Eka Kurniawan, for a compilation of short stories published in 2018, which composes two figures of ambiguous nature interacting with each other. In this exhibition, it is left unclear who is the protagonist and the villain, what is right and wrong and instead the audience are invited to encounter, feel, and consider their relationship to their own external worlds. 

Born 1977, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Lives and works in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Eko Nugroho is one of the most acclaimed members of the young generation of Indonesian contemporary artists. He is part of the generation that came to maturity during the period of upheaval and reform that occurred in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the subsequent fall of the Soeharto regime and the transition to democracy in Indonesia. Grounded in both local traditions and global popular culture, Nugroho’s works are deeply engaged with the culture of his time, imbuedwith his critical yet oftentimes playful socio-political commentary. In 2000, Nugroho founded Daging Tumbuh, a collaborative zine that invites participation from non-artists. In addition to drawings and painting, he works in a variety of other media, including murals, sculpture, animation, and tapestry. 

Nugroho has held numerous solo exhibitions at major institutions and galleries around the world, including Plastic Democracy, Arndt Art Agency, Berlin, Germany (2018); Semelah, Asia Society (special commission), New York, USA (2017); Landscape Anomaly, Salihara Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia (2015); We Are What We Mask, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore (2013); Témoin Hybride, Musée
d’art Moderne de Paris, Paris, France (2012); and This Republic Need More Semeleh, Ark Galerie, Jakarta, Indonesia (2011). He has participated in prestigious international exhibitions, the most recent ones being Setouchi Triennale, Ibuki Island, Japan (2019); In Search of Southeast Asia Through M+ Collections, M+ Museum, Hong Kong (2018); Art Basel Hong Kong: Encounters, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong (2015); 10th Gwangju Biennale: Burning Down the House, Gwangju, South Korea (2014); The Global Contemporary, Art Worlds After 1989, ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany (2011); and the 10th Lyon Biennale: The Spectacle of the Everyday, Lyon, France (2009). Eko Nugroho was part of Sakti: The Indonesian Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2013). His works are among the key collections of M+ Museum, Hong Kong; Singapore Art Museum, Singapore; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; Asia Society Museum, New York, USA; Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, Paris, Paris, France; Musée des Beaux-arts de Lyon, Lyon, France; Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt, Germany; and Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt, Berlin, Germany. 

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Copyright belongs to The Artist

Photography by ROH

Courtesy of The Artist, Studio Eko Nugroho, and ROH