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Tatang B Sp

Modernism in art developed itself within binary opposition, separating art from what was outside of it. Even though, actually, however many entities were set aside, in truth there was nothing natural about this selection, it was nothing more than simply a cultural construction. Thus, the two separated things still had the ability to touch, to inform, to strengthen or even to mutually deconstruct.

Art within this scope of meaning is the edge of a spear with a two-sided blade: one edge facing back upon art itself, and the other set in an outward direction. This tendency indicates one thing, that being that within any discourse on art what is encountered is that particular art and the social discourse, which is its environment.

In order to comprehend the text of that art, it is necessary to understand its context. In this way the value of that art falls within the territory of culture and the history of humankind, which then becomes the context for the birth of art works. Considering human beings within culture and history means also taking into consideration humankind as a problem, weighing man against the human mystery. Encountering hummankind as a dilemma means bringing art into the realm of the objective experience of human beings, that means mankind within a social sphere.

With this kind of understanding as a background, the issues arising within a given work of art are issues that develop contact between the real world and the path toward achieving totality. The term totality (or, a totalization) here, can be defined as a whole homogenous world in which there is found interdependence with no sign of a division or a crack between the existences of subject and object, or between the inner sphere and outer sphere. Within this framework of totality, art acts as an artwork that takes into consideration the effort to seek out the values found within a world, which is cracked. There are strong efforts to rebuild this world that has become fragmented. Only through totality can this fragmented world become whole once again.

People believe that imagination has the strength to change this fragmented reality into a full, unified sphere of totality. It is this imagination that can bring about almost anything that does not exist, thus returning totality to this fragmented life or existence.

The tendency in Indonesian art within it historical context often cannot be considered outside of this kind of ideological framework. Within its development we can see one thing: the continuous tension between the ideal world that is a full totality in itself on one hand and the real world, which we cannot deny is fragmented, on the other hand.

From this there emerges the idea of the autonomy of art as a representation of the strength of the imagination. The art of Indonesia, during one period of time, did experience this idealistic totality. And with this kind of totality, the fragmented world was drawn into a conceptual center, which contained the ideas of God, human solidarity, and even the spirit of nationalism. Because of this idealistic passion, intention and imagination can be utilized, can even become the main implements, for the achievement of totality.

Approaching this from a different tendency or direction, the concepts found within my artworks are meant to attempt to develop a totality that is realistic through the placement of art, at once, as both a product and a process of a real and concrete history. This historical process finds itself on the same level as the awareness that totality can only be effective if the artist leans upon the issues of social reality, which exist within the fabric of society.

The Reading of Artworks

Through art, I express my concern over the phenomenon of society, in particular the modern middle class as a creative exploration. This choice seems to reject the reasonableness of representation within a work of art that intends to claim a social commitment.

In general, there are two models of criticism projected through painting. First, is a vision in which the bias in art tends to be expressed through images that are targeted at the lower classes " the segment of society that is most easily identified with "the people". Second, is a vision that brings forth the issue of binary opposition between the dominator and those who are dominated, the oppressor and the oppressed. Within these two models, art encounters the risk of falling into the pit of propaganda or of becoming nothing more than raw illustrations of sociopolitical events.

In order to avoid this risk, the strategy I select is while playing around with parody and irony in order to protect the "free space of pluralistic meaning", I also explore a commitment to social issues through the analysis of the pathology of the middle class. The relationship of power within this analysis tends to be volatile. It is no longer clear who is defeating who, and who is the victim and who is the tyrant. This is a multidimensional dilemma: the subjects of my work are the victims who themselves created the structure that is victimizing them. With this criticism, I do not intend to appear as if I think that I monopolize the truth. Therefore, rather than taking on the characteristics of the overtly verbal and propagandistic, my paintings tend to be symbolic. This is true of the themes, messages, and even the idioms which appear in my works, and which I use to be able to create a large open space for interpretation.

This search for my own identity, which is colored by personal aspects, my culture, and the sociopolitical situation on one hand, and by the desire to be closer to the public I am trying to reach on the other hand, has given rise to a strategy based in the selection of a language of expression that is at once metaphorical and symbolic, and which retains individual characteristics. This is while the irony and parody are meant as a strategy to inspire a critical awareness in the public. The symbolic and the metaphoric no longer reflect facts, but rather set out a formulated reality, that is a new reality that makes critical reference to the factual reality.

Another strategy is to use a language that is close to routine daily life. This specific language is made up of the icons that originate in the culture with which I am most familiar " both modern and traditional. I do not intend this cultural element as a mechanism for quoting cultural references, but also as a kind of transformation into a new context that gives birth to a new meaning.

Tatang B Sp is an artist and NGO activist worked based in Bali