On now at the NGV, Rally: Contemporary Indonesian Art, features the work of two of Yogyakarta’s biggest artists – Eko Nugroho and Jompet Kuswidananto. (Leg of Lamb recently finished a write up of the show for Art & Australia, so keep your eyes peeled for the forthcoming issue). Assisting Nugroho with his install was Arwin Hidayat, also an artist from Jogja. While Hidayat was in town he had a small flash showing at a private studio in East Brunswick, introducing his work to Australian audiences for the first time.
Hidayat creates small works on paper, mostly black and white, sometimes stained with grey washes. Their graphic, 2D nature recalls both batik patterning (Hidayat teaches batik-making courses part time) and comics. Included in the work are repeated symbols that incorporate the ordinary (birds, vehicles, table settings) with the explicit (multiple phalluses, hovering orifices). Text appears too and it’s often very funny – “please god give me girlfriend before my stick get eat by bird” (above) is a classic example. Humour and rude symbols aside, there’s also a sense of anxiety and melancholy at play. Spiritual and romantic unrest appears in the form of closed off churches and love-sick phrases. But this mood of longing is oft-obscured by shock tactics; cock-forests, fornicators and self deprecating one-liners – like Hidayat’s made the conscious decision to laugh instead of frown.