ROH (Jakarta, Indonesia) and Whistle (Seoul, South Korea) are pleased to present a collaborative presentation, modular synthesizer, for Frieze Seoul 2023, exhibiting works by Indonesia-based artists Agus Suwage (b. 1959, Central Java, Indonesia), Davy Linggar (b. 1974, Jakarta, Indonesia), Kei Imazu (b. 1980, Yamaguchi, Japan), and Tromarama (est. 2006, Bandung, Indonesia) in conversation with South Korea-based artists Dongho Kang (b. 1994, Busan, South Korea), Eimei Kaneyama (b. 1981, Toride, Japan), Hyun Nahm (b. 1990, Goyang, South Korea), and Kyoungtae Kim (b. 1983, Jinju, South Korea). modular synthesizer represents an introduction to a series of cooperative initiatives between ROH and Whistle, that will be extended with residency projects and exhibitions between the two galleries. As the moniker modular synthesizer suggests, the methodology of developing the presentation between ROH and Whistle is most akin to building a spontaneous musical composition with an underlying tempo as its basis and as each layer of sound is added and looped forms a synchronous melody. Each artist transforms their own contribution to the dialogue into visual form through their work and respective practices.
In conversation with one of Whistle’s artists, Kyoungtae Kim (b. 1983, Jinju, South Korea), Tromarama (est. 2006, Bandung, Indonesia) presented a new wallpaper work in which an image of a fingerprint is abstracted to the point that it becomes almost indiscernible in terms of its original reference point. The ways in which the specific images utilized by Kim and Tromarama construct contain many parallels. As a continuation of their recent solo exhibition Personalia, which discusses the evermore complex relationship humans have with the digital world and labor, Tromarama also presents a new body of work using found employee attendance cards that have been screenprinted by a holographic abstraction.
Similar to Japanese born South Korean-based Eimei Kaneyama (b. 1981, Toride, Japan), Kei Imazu (b. 1980, Yamaguchi, Japan) is an artist who has migrated and lived in a completely different cultural environment she was initially raised in. Moving from Yamaguchi, Japan, to Bandung, Indonesia since 2016, Imazu has been building a research-based aesthetic language that deeply takes into account, and synthesizes her new surroundings, through the mining of local folklore, tradition, and culture into her complex compositions. While remaining consistent with her interest in human civilization and the evolution of its species, her works now contain esoteric references to Indonesian mythologies that contain metaphors referring to our current ecological circumstances. This relationship between her practice and ecology perhaps also established a connection to the practice of South Korean-based Hyun Nahm (b. 1990, Goyang, South Korea).
Agus Suwage (b. 1959, Central Java, Indonesia) is one of Indonesia’s leading, and more established artists whose practice emerged in the lead up to the tumultuous social and political changes in Indonesia in the mid-1990s. His works emerge from deep personal reflection, as well as an incisive, and critical observation of the situations unfolding around him. Suwage’s works contain several themes and iconography that appear in cycles, and he often portrays himself in many different contexts, often referring to the existentialist subject of life and death. His work for modular synthesizer utilizes the image of a Beagle (dogs are considered by some factions of religious perspectives in Indonesia as sacrilegious) to replace the face of his own daughter, as if it is performing some sort of instruction to other dogs sitting in anticipation of an instruction. The work, Teach Your Children, an expansive configuration of tobacco juice and watercolor on paper, critiques boundaries between the sacred and profane, and how valid instruction can be received from more informal channels outside of the formal education system. The title of the work itself also references music, deriving from the title of a song from the 1970s by Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young.
Davy Linggar (b. 1974, Jakarta, Indonesia) is an artist who primarily works in photography, video, and painting. As a counterpoint to Dongho Kang’s (b. 1994, Busan, South Korea) work, in which the images come from almost anonymous origins, Linggar’s work comes from the very personal, intimate life experiences that come from his own daily life. Similar to Kang, his paintings and video work are derived from photography. The intention behind his practice is not rooted in a desire to control what the viewer will interpret, but rather to attempt to understand the connection between himself and the intuitive associations he has to certain memories related to moments in time and space in his work. Many of the compositions are more precise, or photographical, in terms of pictorial representation, while others incorporate elements of abstraction, and layers of drawings or indentations on the surface of the works themselves, reversing the sequence in which compositions are layered upon each other.
ROH x Whistle
Hall D, Booth C17
VIP Preview (by invitation only):
6 September, 13:00 - 20:00
7 September, 11:00 - 13:00
7 September, 13:00 - 19:30
8 September, 11:00 - 19:30
9 September, 11:00 - 18:00
Agus Suwage (b. 1959 Central Java, Indonesia), is one of Indonesia’s – and South East Asia’s – most celebrated artists who works through many different mediums to investigate multifarious notions of identity, whether from the point of view of the sociopolitical, the national, or the religious, from the unique vantage point of absorbing the ancient Hindu-Buddhist culture that ancient Indonesian civilization was built upon. Suwage’s own mixed Chinese-Javanese heritage, and his experience as a Christian convert to Islam, have informed his approach to cultural pluralism and religious syncretism. His works have often made critiques – sometimes pointed, sometimes veiled – of various forms of intolerance and of the attempt to impose a single rigid, monolithic structure on society, whether by Indonesia’s authoritarian Suharto regime (1966-98) or more recently by the rise of a fundamentalist strain of Islam in Indonesia. The specter of violence recurs in many of his works, creating a somber mood that is leavened by humor and an irreverent spirit of self-mockery and irony. Suwage is uncannily adept at utilizing watercolor in combination with tobacco juice on paper to delicately showcase a sensitivity to the medium, balancing color, line, and drawing, to create startling juxtapositions of images that are at once bright and almost satirical, with insinuations of much darker, multilayered meaning that resonates more universally.
Agus Suwage has participated in exhibitions in various notable exhibitions and institutions around the globe. His most recent exhibition was a mid-career survey, The Theater of Me at Museum MACAN, Jakarta, Indonesia (2022). Selected solo exhibitions include Room of Mine at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York, USA (2017); ◄◄ ►► at Nadi Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia (2014); Cycle No. 3 at ARNDT Contemporary Art, Berlin Germany (2013); CIRCL3 at Singapore Tyler Print Institute Gallery, Singapore (2009); Beauty in the Dark at Avanthay Contemporary Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland (2008); Pause / Re-play at Soemardja Gallery, Bandung Institute of Technology, Bandung, Indonesia (2005); Playing the Fool at Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2004); and Ough...Nguik!! at the National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia (2003). Selected group exhibitions include SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now at Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung Taiwan (2019) and National Art Center and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2017); +63 +62 at Silverlens Gallery, Manila, Philippines (2019); Terra Incognita at Hilger Brotkunsthalle, Vienna, Austria (2017); After Utopia at the Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2015); #FAMILYFRIENDS at ROH Projects, Jakarta, Indonesia (2015); SIP! Indonesian Art Today at ARNDT, Singapore and ARNDT, Berlin, Germany (2013); The Golden Age at Ark Galerie, Jakarta (2009), Indonesia; Neo-Nation at Biennale Yogyakarta IX at Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2007); Thermocline of Art at New Asian Waves, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany (2007); Masa Lalu Masa Lupa at Cemeti Art House, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2006); Urban/Culture at the 2nd CP Biennale, Bank Indonesia Museum, Jakarta, Indonesia; and the 3rd Gwangju Biennale: Man and Space, Gwangju, South Korea (2000).
Copyright belongs to The Artist
Photography by ROH
Courtesy of The Artist, Whistle Gallery, and ROH