Image: Harmony series (detail), Mulyana.
Until 21 August the SAPAR Contemporary gallery in New York is hosting the two-person exhibition Jumping the Shadow, celebrating the work of Indonesian contemporary artists Iwan Effendi and Mulyana. Both artists’ work is inspired by traditional puppetry. In this extract from the curator’s essay, John Silvis explains the context for the show. “The Indonesian shadow puppet theater tradition (Wayang) has been woven into the culture’s history for more than a thousand years. The term Wayang means shadow (as well as visual imagination) in Javanese. Although their artistic lineages do not directly reference the history of shadow puppets, their work envisions imaginary worlds and characters that open up our minds to timely narratives. The whimsical and animated characters in their work point to a rich tradition of story telling.”
Image: The Visitor, Iwan Effendi.
“Effendi’s relationship to puppetry is a deeply personal one. His paternal grandfather, who was a political prisoner for several decades for his alleged communist views, was a shadow puppet master before he was incarcerated. As a student, Effendi focused on painting and print making, but was particularly inspired by comics as a young boy. This became a driving vernacular for his Papermoon puppets, a non-verbal, performance theater group which he formed with his wife Ria Tri Sulistyani in 2007. The approach to puppetry as a tableaux vivant mimics elements of installation and performance art that engages the audience as a protagonist in the experience.”
Image: Mogus series, Mulyana.
“Mulyana employs and educates several groups of artisans to execute his vision of a captivating biosphere below the surface of the ocean. As a formation, the organic shapes are bound together by an invisible force as they occupy the floor, or wall, or hang from the ceiling. In Jumping the Shadow, Mulyana has created new characters and coral islands, and continues to expand the language of his avatar, the Mogus (octopus). Mulyana’s creatures cast beautiful shadows reminiscent of shadow puppet scenes but dazzle us with the beauty of their intricate details. The magical worlds he creates appeal to our collective consciousness—he believes that protecting the environment and being a good neighbor go hand in hand. Using re-purposed yarn, his collaborative practice invokes ideas of spirituality and community by a poignant portrayal of a magical underwater world that is quickly eroding.”For more information visit www.saparcontemporary.com