AGUS SUWAGE(b. 1959)

Duhai Cermin Katakan Tak Ada Ganteng di antara Kita (Mirror, mirror...we are as handsome as each other) signed and dated 'AGUS SUWAGE '2005'' (lower center)

AGUS SUWAGE(b. 1959)
Duhai Cermin Katakan Tak Ada Ganteng di antara Kita (Mirror, mirror...we are as handsome as each other)
signed and dated 'AGUS SUWAGE '2005'' (lower center)
mirror we are as handsome as each other)
oil on canvas
149.2 x 144.5 cm. (58 3/4 x 56 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2005.
Private Collection, Asia
Enin Supriyanto, Studio Biru, AGUS SUWAGE : STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, Jogjakarta, Indonesia, 2010 (illustrated, p. 210).
Enin Supriyanto (ed.), Pause/Replay: Agus Suwage, Studio Biru, Jogjakarta, Indonesia, 2009 (illustrated, p. 26).

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Eric Chang
Eric Chang

Lot Essay

Respected Indonesian contemporary artist Agus Suwage determined his lifelong devotion to art when he moved to Bandung, West Java and pursued an education in Visual and Communication Design in 1986. Suwage initially began as a graphic designer before embarking on a full time art career. Suwage explored the eccentricities of today's era and the intricacy of the past historical episodes; sometimes in a most comical and unthinkable way. He frequently elaborates on the socio-political situation in Indonesia juxtaposed against his daily experiences.
Suwage's deeply personal interest in rock music inspired the creation of Bono (Lot 137). Previously, Suwage also dedicated a work to the influential British rocker Thom Yorke and aptly titled the piece after Yorke's solo album The Eraser (Christie's Hong Kong, 25 ?November 2007, Lot 1). In this present lot, Suwage pays homage to the celebrated Bono, lead singer of rock band U2 who is known for his philanthropy work around the globe. Bono is an exceedingly vocal advocate about religion and tolerance; two subjects which are highly sensitive and personal to Suwage. The artist's own decision to convert to Islam, and his citizenship in Indonesia, where people of many races and religions coexist together, less than harmoniously on occasion, leads the ethnic-Chinese Suwage to be profoundly aware of this topic. The iconic headband which Bono frequently wears during his rock concerts made an enduring impact on Suwage, as a symbolic visual emblem of Bono's advocacy and practices. The three symbols on the headband form the word "Coexist"; while the fabric conceals Bono's sight, symbolising the rocker's "blindness" towards the diversity of religion and skin color. In contrast, Bono's meditative countenance conveys tranquility despite his rebellious nature as a rock star. Finally, the burning flames serve as a reminder that diminishing tolerance among mankind may eventually lead humanity to burn and perish.
Within Duhai Cermin katakan Tak ada Ganteng di antara Kita (Mirror, mirror & we are as handsome as each other) (Lot 138), we observe Suwage's recurring and rather humorous fascination with pigs. This preoccupation stems from the fact that the pig is the animal of his Chinese zodiac, but is paradoxiacally haram or forbidden within Islamic law. Suwage's works continually interrogates basic laws about the dignity of human beings. In the artist's own words: "The human being, as an animal possessing intelligence, is, of all this world's creatures, the one with the greatest potential as a predator towards its own kind, nature and other creatures". By drawing upon his own self-portrait, Suwage is imposes questions of personal identity and how our role in society may help or harm others, while couching these weighty musings within the effervescent language of humor.

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