New and highly innovative art practices have continued to grow across Asia throughout the dawn of the 21st Century. The ongoing development of newly emerging artists test the boundaries of their more senior colleagues by seeking even more complex ways to develop their work as an important part of their contemporary world-views. The Art of Asia is no longer in need of a mere discovering of new artists. It is increasingly becoming capable of receiving attention from the position of playing a vital part in the development of a new global contemporary culture.
Ugo Untoro is one of the artists who have brought contemporary Indonesian art to a new level. He has already been recognized across the archipelago for his strong character and persistence in creating art works that reflect the conditions of existence, both at the level of being an artist as well as a human being, that showcase Indonesian contemporary culture for what it is – turbulent, but also a pure and simple part of everyday reality. Over the past decade, Ugo Untoro’s works have encompassed an elaborate collection of paintings, drawings, poems and writings. In recent years he has also explored intricate installation projects, as can be seen in his work Poem of Blood.
When it was installed at the National Gallery in Jakarta in April 2007, prominent members of the Southeast Asian art scene praised the artist for developing his explorations of the life and death cycle among one of mankind’s most valued animals – horses – into a new spatial and artistic context. The exhibition was accompanied by the writing of two of Indonesia’s most prominent curators of contemporary art, Enin Supriyanto and Jim Supangkat. Following the exhibition at the National Gallery, Ugo Untoro’s work drew increasing attention to the market for contemporary Indonesian art, both domestically and across the Asian continent.
A prominent artist like Ugo Untoro deserves further attention to the long-term processes involved in the development of his work, including its critical assessment amidst a more internationally oriented environment. It is within this critical framework that the following profile of Ugo Untoro’s work for the 2008 ShContemporary Art Fair falls into place.
Ugo Untoro (Purbalingga, 1970) graduated from the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) in Yogyakarta and continues to be based in this hub of artists of the South East Asian region. Considered one of Indonesia’s key contemporary artists, Untoro has exhibited widely in Indonesia as well as Malaysia, China Singapore and France. Hailing from a street background and related to the boundless nature of graffiti art, his signature style is more raw and spontaneous rather than pleasant. Wrought full of irony and existential questioning, Untoro’s unpolished canvasses have a tangible connection to aspirations and issues shunted to society’s margins.