Lives and Works: Yogyakarta
Anusapati lives and works in Yogyakarta. A graduate of Pratt Institute’s School of Art and Design, Anusapati has exhibited internationally in Singapore, Japan, India, Australia, USA, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Russia, Turkey and South Africa. He spent most of his childhood in the 60s playing under the shade of tall rubber trees in Cibubur, when it was the rural outskirts of Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. He recalls an early fascination for the wooden tools he would find lying around, be they plantation tools or equipment used in the cultivation of wet rice. Little remains of his childhood haven, as Cibubur is now listed as a site with high-level environmental degradation due to polluting industries.
Throughout his artistic career, Anusapati has always been preoccupied with wood and its origin: trees. In Central Java where Anusapati now lives, trees easily grow quite large because of the fertile soil there. People enjoy their cool shade as protection from the tropical heat. Unfortunately, these trees and their cool shades are diminishing with time and urbanisation.
Anusapati attempts to recreate the tree shades through his delicate charcoal- on-paper drawings. They depict impressions of silhouettes or shadows of trees and plants, just like the dappled shadow from lush trees on the ground when we are enjoying their shade. These simple, and yet mesmerising monochromatic drawings from various kinds of trees are meant as a reminder and a warning on the worsening environmental problems we are facing today. These problems stem from diminishing forest cover as a result of rampant urbanisation and continuing irresponsible deforestation. Often we don’t realise how simple things like tree shades are very valuable. That is, until we have lost them.
With his three-dimensional works, Anusapati gives an unusual freedom to wood. He lends his pieces voices in unexpected ways. Stylistically simple, the images are readily recognizable. Yet their differences to day-to-day experience and expectations give the pieces an alien quality that goad the mind to think along various pathways. Take Articulation, for example. At a glance from the distance, it looks like a line of wooden branches hung on the wall. Upon closer view, unexpected details reveal themselves. Among the three sculptural pieces forming this work, two are of wood and one is of brass. Cold chemical patination has given the brass piece a silvery-gold sheen, wrapping it in an expectant aura. The metallic joint of the branch catches viewers by surprise. It speaks quietly of mechanisation, of a false, limited freedom of movement.
Anusapati’s use of the media of charcoal on paper for his drawings is not based on aesthetic considerations only. Both paper and charcoal come from the same source: trees. The three-dimensional objects are also made out of natural, organic materials such as wood, salvaged tree branches, paper, books, leaves and seeds. They are chosen upon the same grounding concerns about trees, nature and our environment. Together, they invite us to reflect and reconsider our own part and actions in our environment.
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