Visualising a highly uncommon and original scenario with characteristic brazenness, Nyoman Masriadi's Master Yoga illustrates key characteristics of his painting practice, including the autobiographical aspects that may be intimated from an understanding of symbolic pictorial elements in his works.
Master Yoga marks yet another pictorial milestone for the artist, particularly in the evocation of an irrepressibly iconoclastic pictorial subject and the evocation of a memorable scenario. A sole figure is depicted, cast starkly against a vacuous background deliberately left so with the purpose of accentuating the presence and countenance of the figure. Master Yoga illustrates a key feature of Masriadi's painterly language - the penchant for the monumental.
The painterly world of Masriadi, oftentimes inhabited by the sole iconoclastic painted figure, is intrinsically tied to his direct apprehensions and reactions to the larger world beyond the canvas. What sets one painting from another is the inherent capacity of the work to speak, to say something personally heartfelt. In this regard, Masriadi views his canvases almost as a form of transcendence beyond its own physicality as a painting into a powerful oratorical device. The ability of a picture to articulate, to pronounce something, to provoke the sensibilities of its viewer, is an ideal that Masriadi holds close to heart.
These paintings, invested with specific utterances, embody personal experiences and thoughts distilled into pictorial narratives. In them, one finds elements of visual wit, humour and the comical - elements that run consistently through Masriadi's oeuvre. Underlining his canvases is a unmistakable wit, sometimes sardonic, sometimes wry and yet at other times tongue-in-cheek. Nothing is sacrilegious; anyone and anything can be lampooned or satirised. It is a brand of humour and visual wit that is pointed yet subtle, direct yet coy, emerging clearly in the various guises of the painted figures that inhabit Masriadi's painted world.
The figure in Master Yoga stands precisely in a growing line of memorable protagonists in Masriadi's oeuvre. Painted sporting an Afro perm and a sculpted body as well as a pair of jeans marked with the American brand, Guess, the picture immediately transmits a sense of mischief in the painter's clobbering together of a number of otherwise incongruous pictorial elements to constitute the athletically built figure. Yet coming together as they do, a certain ingenious harmony prevails.
The sheer impossibility and show off-ishness of the figure's arched posture which lends the painting its name - Master Yoga - seeks a direct, confrontational engagement with the viewer. Yoga practitioners seek alignment between the psyche and vital points in one's body with the energies of the earth. As such, the variety of yoga poses across different sub-disciplines all invariably connect to the ground and earth in a number of different ways. By painting the palms and feet of the figure resting on miniature-sized cars, Masriadi chooses to undermine the symbiotic relationship between earth and body. The decidedly flashy car models which the artist has chosen are in themselves potent symbols of conspicuous consumption. Their real world value as highly desirable consumer luxury goods makes their presences as conduits between the elemental entities of the body and the earth highly problematic.
But Masriadi's protagonist in Master Yoga seems to be saying that he does not quite give a care to such conventional notions. In the wholeness of his depicted persona, here is a man whose eyes are meeting the viewer firmly, showing an acute awareness of the world, and more importantly, a willingness to engage with it, but on his own terms.
A form of devious wit such as this depicted in Master Yoya is a defining characteristic of Masriadi's canvases. Regardless of the specificities of the messages embedded in each canvas, a sense of humour and the comical is unmistakably present. Each of his paintings is delectable to apprehend precisely because Masriadi manages to raise them above the level of the everyday prosaic by finding in them a pertinence which escapes the observation of many.