Having graduated from the sculpture department of the Indonesian Art Institute in 2003, Budi Kustarto's art practice centres around sculpture and painting and the self-portrait format. As a two-dimensional medium, painting presents the Kustarto with a markedly different set of challenges from sculpture - the most evident being the ability to visualize limitations.
The notion of limitations is very important for the artist. Curator Rizki A. Zaelani explains that Budi Kustarto's works are "critical responses around the issue of limits. He thinks of becoming oneself within a limit (of plaster/fiberglass image). To Budi, oneself is a 'printout'; it is a result of limitations to give identity, meaning, condition, and so forth Limits here are, to Budi Kustarto, nothing to regret; it is our consciousness that has to work to realize the truth. Limits keep us in alert, aware of life, humanize us." (Rizki Zaelani, Curatorial Preface in Budi, solo exhibition catalogue, Nadi Gallery, Jakarta, 2005, p. 26-27))
Limits and limitations are then tested out through the body, which is a site for critical and self-aware experience and evaluation of human life. Hence, many of the paintings produced by the artist sees him in various poses and contortions. The bodies relate to pictorial space - in that sense, the painting, with the bounded dimensions of the canvas, becomes an oxymoronic limited but free space for the artist to articulate the notion of freedom.
The present lot, Push Me, is an extension of this thematic exploration. The artist has rendered his self-portrait in a highly unusual circumstance - contorted and seemingly in a state of stupor, being wheeled about in a supermarket trolley. In this way, the contorted full body self-portrait is a symbol of boundedness, a representation of limitation. Does it speak about any possible paradoxical circumstance of living within a consumptive and capitalistic society, especially if one's resources are limited? Is the particular form of boundedness self-imposed or befallen on one's lot? These are some of the larger questions that the painting poses.