WHYTumurun Museum, Surakarta, Indonesia26 March - 26 September 2022

Tumurun Museum is pleased to present WHY, a mid-career survey of the practice and works of Aditya Novali (b. 1978 Surakarta, Indonesia), also the first ever exhibition in the artist’s hometown. WHY incorporates Aditya’s most important projects from the last two decades, which comprised of: Conversation Unknown, Painting Sense, Caprice, When I Search…, Significant Other: Her and His World(s), NGACO: Solution for Nation, Tea: One Ceremony, and Structures of Representation.

“It is my wish that art lovers in Solo—my birthplace—are also able to enjoy my works, as I have been exhibiting my works in anywhere but here. Therefore, this is an important exhibition for me, since it will be my first time exhibiting in my hometown,” stated Novali.



As its title suggests, the exhibition centers around a constant thread of inquiry present in Novali’s work, a persistent sense of questioning, evaluation, examination, and investigation into the meaning of those things around and, more importantly, within him. Despite not being formally trained as an artist, Novali’s rigor and tenacity in his explorations has helped him to become one of the most internationally recognized Indonesian artist of his generation.

Quoting Alia Swastika, whom together with Enin Supriyanto contributed an essay for the exhibition, “Aditya Novali is an artist who works primarily through the medium of installation; but then explores a number of forms and materials. The choices an artist takes as it relates to material, form and imagination represents the outcome of a process in constructing thoughts and research, to the point that one becomes linked to the other in strengthening its constituent components in strengthening the narrative and concepts the artist puts on offer. ”

Swastika added based on her observation, “the way Aditya works represents the practice of a contemporary artist who is organized and structured: building concepts, looking for references as well as researching into themes he cultivates, establishing experiments in shape and form, trying out a variety of materials, including how form and material itself allows for a discovery of meaning within a certain space. The effort behind an artist’s creation goes beyond just attaching and constructing a collage of symbols juxtaposed from one to the other, but rather how to provide a certain spirit and artistic identity towards works and a certain orchestration towards each of its constituent elements. Artworks ultimately demand a certain aspect of imagination, fantasy, poetry, or something that encourages playfulness and interactivity, thus some aspect brings the audience to connect with the work.”


As to Enin Supriyanto, who dissected Novali’s practice using the principle of permutation and combination stated, “In many of his works, we can assuage how Aditya Novali truly employs certain principles of combination and permutation. However, instead of a distillation of the presentation of form, Aditya Novali increases and enriches narrative construct, expanding the possibilities of interpretation.” This method is employed not only to enrich the possibilities of form but simultaneously to obtain a diversity of variations with regards to a certain narrative theme.

According to Supriyanto, from this elaboration of Aditya Novali’s diverse body of work, we are able to discern how he has successfully developed a strong conceptual foundation, and his ability to formulate while simultaneously implementing a suitable and sufficient methodology to translate these aforementioned concepts alongside a certain physical and mental rigor.

For the past years, Novali is represented by ROH, the Jakarta-based contemporary art gallery. Jun Tirtadji, the gallerist, stated that “WHY” is an open invitation for the viewer into the processes by which Aditya Novali has developed an artistic practice that takes into consideration the things that make up who we are from the frameworks of the intellect, as it relates to and at times in tension with our intuitions. The exhibition suggests that in attempting to understand the ways Novali is learning about who he is, that perhaps its viewers may also learn some fundamental truths about themselves as well.”


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

Aditya Novali received his Bachelor of Engineering in Architecture from Universitas Katolik Parahyangan, Bandung, Indonesia, in 2002; and an IM Master of Conceptual Design from the Design Academy Eindhoven, The Netherlands, in 2008. Novali works with a variety of materials, often first conceiving an idea and then finding the right medium to transcribe his vision. His background in architecture influences his sensitivity to structure, space, and knowledge of construction – key elements of his approach and aesthetic. Addressing themes such as boundaries, identities, materialism, and urban life, Novali’s work interacts with the viewer and transforms with each viewing.

Novali’s work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and institutions both locally and internationally. Some of his previous exhibitions include recent solo presentations New Obsolescence: ADITYAVOVALI at ROH, Jakarta, Indonesia (2023); WHY at Tumurun Museum, Solo, Indonesia (2022); ME:DI:UM with ROH Projects at Liste Art Fair, Basel, Switzerland (2019); Significant Other at ShanghArt Gallery, Singapore (2019); Caprice with ROH Projects at Art Basel Hong Kong: Discoveries, Hong Kong (2018); and ACRYLIC at ROH Projects, Jakarta, Indonesia (2016); and notable group presentations Dhaka Art Summit: বন্যা/Bonna, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2023); On Muzharul Islam: Surfacing Intention at Dhaka Art Summit: Seismic Movements, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2020); The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, QAGOMA, Brisbane, Australia (2018); DIASPORA: Exit, Exile, Exodus of Southeast Asia, MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand (2018); The 15th Asia Art Festival: Multiple Spectacle Art from Asia, Ningbo Art Museum, Ningbo, China (2017); Imaginary Synonym, Tokyo Wonder Site, Japan (2016); Aku Diponegoro, National Gallery of Indonesia, Indonesia (2015); Shout! Indonesian Contemporary Art, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea (MACRO), Italy (2014); Little Water, Dojima River Biennale, Osaka, Japan (2013); South East Asia (SEA)+ Triennale, National Gallery of Indonesia, Indonesia (2013); Of Human Scale and Beyond: Experience and Transcendence, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong (2012). Novali was nominated for Best Emerging Artist Using Installation at the 2016 Prudential Eye Awards in Singapore; Finalist in the 2010 Sovereign Asian Art Prize, and awarded Best Artwork in the Bandung Contemporary Art Awards (BaCAA) in the same year. 

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Copyright belongs to The Artist

Photography by ROH

Courtesy of The Artist, Tumurun Museum, and ROH