ZigguratROH, Jakarta, Indonesia18 May - 23 June 2024
ROH Ziggurat

ROH is pleased to present Ziggurat, the gallery’s first solo exhibition of one of South East Asia’s most celebrated contemporary artists Agus Suwage (b. 1959, Purworejo, Indonesia) who works through many different mediums to investigate the many notions of identity from the unique vantage point of his own multifaceted upbringing.

Suwage’s practice is marked by a constant sense of self-interrogation, probing the myths and symbols that frame the complexity of human existence, elaborating upon its brightest ideals as well as its darkest corruptions. His work references art history, philosophy, religion, music, and politics, identifying similar approaches and artistic and conceptual linkages to other artists who have come before him.

A staunchly humanist critic against intolerance, Suwage has developed a consistent approach of artmaking that incorporates satire, illustrations of violence, and appropriation to speak about his own perspective related to societal circumstances surrounding him.

ROH Ziggurat

In Ziggurat, Suwage once again confounds the viewer with a multifarious consideration of human existence. He does not see things perhaps from the perspective of black and white, but perhaps rather from the perspective of gold. Gold is a delicate entity. In its excess or misunderstanding it can lead to fire, and wounding. In its appropriate context it can also be grounding, protection, or inspiration. On one end, Gold can be part of the tip of the needle, an apparatus designed to puncture or pierce. On the other end of what appears to be a needle could also be a blooming flower.

ROH Ziggurat

Born 1959, Purworejo, Indonesia
Lives and works in Bandung

Agus Suwage 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 Maruto Ardi and ROH

Courtesy of The Artist and ROH