AGUS SUWAGE (Indonesia b. 1959)
AGUS SUWAGE (Indonesia b. 1959)

The Super Omnivore

Details
AGUS SUWAGE (Indonesia b. 1959)
The Super Omnivore
signed and dated 'AGUS SUWAGE 2005' (lower right, second panel); signed, dated and titled 'AGUS SUWAGE 2003 SUPER OMNIVORE' (on the reverse)
oil and digital print on canvas, in two parts
each: 90½ x 90½ in. (230 x 230 cm.)
overall: 90½ x 181 in. (230 x 460 cm.)
Executed in 2003-2005
2
Exhibited
Jakarta, Vanessa Art Link, Times and Signs, February-March 2006 (illustrated in colour, exh.cat., pp. 72-73)

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Mingyin Lin
Mingyin Lin

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Lot Essay

Since Andy Warhol fetishised the notion of the self-portrait as a disengaged, supermarket icon, contemporary artists have used this highly personal motif as a flexible construct with which to engage different modalities of practice. One of the most established names in contemporary Indonesian art, Agus Suwage focuses on the critical interrogations which take place during the act of re-inventing the self-image. He frequently manipulates his on-canvas persona into parodies of mortal desires and philosophical wanderings, as he grapples with the truths of modern existence. The projection of the artist's concept of personal selfhood occurs not only in the resultant portrait image, but most fully within the actual process of the artistic journey. As affirmed to Christie's by the artist, this present work was originally a faithful rendition of himself. However upon additional reflection, he became tired of constantly beholding his own features and decided to baptise the canvas with the vivid blue paint we now see.

The Super Omnivore simultaneously presents Suwage as both carnivore and herbivore in separate panels. Individually, each image compares man to an animalistic beast which only consumes single food groups. As a unified whole however, it represents humanity as an elevated state combining herbivorous and carnivorous elements. Man is depicted as a bi-faceted creature and more complex than an animal, yet possessing similarly bestial features and appetites. The carnivorous canvas - which shows Suwage consuming smaller versions of himself - also acts as a commentary on the Gulliver-like nature of man; an existence in which he ceaselessly attempts to consume himself in order to reinvigorate his species. However the visages within both canvases have been defaced by splashes of blue. This can be seen as an act of diminishing the individual personality, but also as an attempt to conceal and hide one's innermost self, distancing our deepest souls from our physical desires.

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