Curated by Nicola Trezzi
“The Family Portrait is a wedding reconstruction project that began as a solution to reconsolidate absent memories for my family. It was intended to provide answers by portraying the summit of marriage, an essential moment they longed for, but which had not occurred. However, I feel the project failed”. – Entang Wiharso
Imbued in complexity, the work of Entang Wiharso is rooted in his identity and in the identity of his family. Born in Indonesia from a Javanese family, Wiharso married an American woman and has two children. This situation and related condition – the artist and his family live between Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and Rhode Island, United States – is only adding another layer of complexity to his own personal position, which has been the main source of inspiration for his work. Through various media – from relief to performance, from painting to sculpture – Wiharso has been trying to capture the essence of the human condition, and the related ability, via art, to perceive, through empathy, primal questions about love, hate, fanaticism, and ideology.
Mixing primitive art with cartoons and irony with violence, the artist is capable of capturing the complex fabric of Indonesia, a country which, like few others, embodies the paradoxes dominating our current reality, from religious extremisms to financial development, from multi-ethnicity to post-colonial national identification. In his words, the artist depicts the condition of men who are often divided by complex, multifaceted political, ethnic, racial, and religious systems, humans who co-exist despite the fact that their communication is limited and indirect. Figures are interconnected by intuitive as well as intellectual linkages, including ornamental vegetation, tongues, tails, intestines, animal skin patterns, fences and detailed landscapes.
Entang Wiharso (Tegal, Java, Indonesia, 1967) is one of the leading voices in the Indonesian contemporary art scene.
His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Mizuma Gallery in Singapore, Tang Contemporary Art in Bangkok, Marc Straus in New York City, Dirimart in Istanbul, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Bernier/Eliades Gallery in Athens, Pearl Lam Galleries in Shanghai, ARNDT in Berlin, Primo Marella Gallery in Milan, Galeri Nasional Indonesia in Jakarta, The Drawing Room Contemporary Art in Manila, the Hewlett Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and the Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery, Providence College in Providence, United States.
His work has been exhibited in group exhibitions at institutions such as the Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art, Peekskill, New York, United States, the Oei Hong Djien Museum in Magelang, Indonesia, Museum MACAN in Jakarta, the Museum of Modern Art in Gunma, Japan, the Hilger Brotkunsthalle in Vienna, Singapore Art Museum, Galeri
Nasional Indonesia in Jakarta, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Lyon, Prospect. 3 in New Orleans, The Indonesian Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, Prague Biennale (2009, 2013), the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Kunstraum, Vaduz in Lichtenstein, GAMeC in Bergamo, Italy, Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai, and Arte Lavoro Territorio in Bergamo among others.
Entang Wiharso’s The Family Portrait is the third chapter of “5779”, the exhibition project opening the first season of BUILDINGBOX, which is an independent space within the premises of BUILDING, characterized by its own unique program. The opening project, curated by Nicola Trezzi, opened on the week of Rosh HaShana, which is the beginning of the new year – the year 5779, as the title says – according to the Hebrew calendar.
Following these premises, a window gallery which is visible 24/7, and a calendar which consists of 12 months (Nisan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Av, Elul, Tishrei, Marcheshvan, Kislev, Tevet, Shevat, and Adar), “5779” is a group exhibition in which several artworks are not presented next to each other but rather one after the other. The structure of the calendar – day after day, month after month, year after year – becomes the guideline for the presentation of artworks by several artists; in doing so, this structure transforms the essence behind group exhibitions, from coexistence and juxtaposition to linearity and procession.
Furthermore, this specific format deconstructs the very core of the group exhibition format, which is, by definition, an exhibition in which several artworks, by several artists, are presented next to each other in a confined space and for a specific amount of time. With “5779” the idea of a group exhibition in which works of art by several artists appear, in the same space, one after the other – substituting one another, replacing one another – suggests an inversion in the equation at the base of exhibition making. Rather than rooting exhibition making into space, as it usually happens, this time the exhibition is rooted in time rather than space.
To reinforce the predominance of time over space, a complete overturning of exhibition making and of its premises, is the decision to display artworks that are not only on view 24/7 but also that are ‘fed’ by electricity – neon signs, works with light bulbs, videos, etc. –, works that are independent sources of light, “small suns” (although the Hebrew calendar is a not purely solar but “lunisolar”) giving the rhythm of time.
Entang Wiharso’s The Family Portrait will remain on view until December 6, the last day of Kislev, the third month of the Hebrew calendar. At the end of the 12 months BUILDING will present a catalogue conceived as a calendar and featuring all the 12 artworks presented during the year, which will be revealed month after month.