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Artist Feature Image - Dedy Sufriadi

Artist Feature: Dedy Sufriadi

As a way to introduce the artists we work with in a more in-depth manner, Artemis Art is pleased to present the first of our Artist Feature articles. Our focus for this inaugural article is an artist whom we have been working very closely with for the past few years, Dedy Sufriadi.

Originally from Palembang in Southern Sumatra, Dedy is the second of six siblings and began painting seriously at the age of 15 while still in Senior High School for the Arts (SMSR). From there, he went on to study at the prestigious Indonesian Institute of the Arts (Institut Seni Indonesia) in Yogyakarta, better known by its Indonesian acronym ISI, where he majored in painting. In 2013, he obtained his Masters degree from the same institution.

What we think sets Dedy Sufriadi apart from many of his peers is just how avid a reader this artist is. His serious consumption of books and other reading materials began since 1995 when he started with his tertiary education. 

One specific area he is particularly well read in is existential philosophy, a subject that has strongly informed his artistic endeavor. Among the books he has read over the years include those by philosophical heavyweights such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Paul Sartre, Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, and Albert Camus, among others.

Because of his love for reading, it should come as no surprise that text has become a very important element in his art. Dedy notes the ubiquitous nature of text, as a means to convey information, citing the often-overlooked fact that we are subjected to text, in its various forms and mediums of presentation, at almost every waking moment. Much of his body of works either contain text outright, or have to do with objects and subjects related to text.

Earlier in his career, a period Dedy callss his Existentialist Period (1998 – 2004), text was used in in a manner that could be described as complementary to what was presented on the canvas. The text was more distinct, and one could visually track and verbalize what was presented quite easily, although portions may have been obscured.

Text in his paintings during this period more explicitly articulated his many experiences, reflections, daily observations, or even transcribed excerpts from books he was reading at the time. Dedy describes his use of text as an “added alternative to overcome issues of visual understanding”, citing as an example picture stories with added text were always easier to understand, to illustrate his point.

Now showing at Artemis Art

Click on the thumbnails to view full image & details

Gradually, how text is used in Dedy’s artworks evolved, a process that began when he started to ponder and question the utilization of text in paintings. How did the convention of text begin? Who was the first to become aware of text, and what were the circumstances surrounding this awareness? Could text itself broaden and develop knowledge? These were among the core questions that became the parameters for Dedy’s serious study of text.

What emerged from this philosophical thought process was an eventual repackaging of how Dedy presented text in his works. Randomly placed and multilayered applications of text emerged as new visual elements, supplanting colors and lines typical of abstract expressionist artworks. The text became not much more than disparate snippets, each having little, if any, to do with the other, providing a much-needed middle path in the tug-of-war between intuition and logic, the freedom to improvise freely on the one hand, and the logic dictates demanding that the text still be legible and readable, on the other.

The end result is that the literal meaning of the text presented no longer becomes important, and no longer contributes directly to the aesthetics intended. Instead, text now could coexist harmoniously in parallel with other visual elements and mediums within the artwork, in total becoming a reinterpretation of recorded experiences, thoughts, obsessions, and opinions of the artist.

Dedy’s artworks essentially provide the opportunity for the viewer to not only appreciate what they visually discern, but to be in control of contextual understanding. This attribute is achieved from the multilayering and random placement of the text utilized, creating countless combinations of visual trajectories the viewer may pick up on. As opposed to books, where text is presented in an arrangement predetermined by the author, Dedy’s artworks allow the viewer to simultaneously “read” and become the author of what is “read”.

A recent example is Dedy’s new series of artworks entitled Lorem Ipsum, so named after a term well-known in the publishing and graphic design domains, essentially filler or dummy text, written in Latin but without much meaning, used to allow designers and typesetters to create more natural-looking text based design placeholders and templates.

Since 2012 when Artemis Art first started exhibiting Dedy Sufriadi’s artworks, he has been featured in a number of exhibitions organized by us, as well as in several of our art fair appearances. Visit Dedy Sufriadi’s artist profile page for a complete list.

Art Expo Malaysia 2012
Art Expo Malaysia 2013
HYPERTEXT (solo exhibition)
Singapore Art Fair 2014
Young Art Taipei 2015
Singapore Contemporary 2016
Young Art Taipei 2016
Bazaar Art Jakarta 2016
Singapore Contemporary 2017
Art Central Hong Kong 2017
Art Jakarta 2017
de facto
Art Fair Philippines 2018

 

This series, which debuted at Art Fair Philippines 2018, is based on an earlier set of artworks, somewhat similar in visual style, but which contained hand-written/drawn excerpts of actual writings related to existential philosophy. Instead, text in the new Lorem Ipsum series is random, almost a stream of consciousness combination of alphabets and numbers, varying in arrangement, flow, and size depending on compositional needs. But this random text rendering serves an important purpose – what Dedy Sufriadi has created is essentially an ocular embodiment of Lorem Ipsum, a series of visual placeholders shaped and set in their final form, awaiting the viewer to create their own meanings and unique contextual emotional connections.

The Lorem Ipsum series that debuted at this year’s Art Fair Philippines
Click on any of the thumbnails to view full image & details

Admittedly, the diversity of styles seen in Dedy Sufriadi’s complete body of work makes it difficult to concisely characterize, other than to say that they are a marriage of intelligence and intuition, firmly grounded with a solid sense of composition and color. Despite having moved away from explicitly expressing philosophical thoughts on canvas, allowing instead his intuition to guide him, his grounding in the realm of philosophy cannot help but show through his artworks.

In fact, his own process of artistic discovery is based on what could be described as a philosophical approach, a process that Dedy himself considers being conscious and deliberate, and not entirely by chance.

Proses menemukan bagi seorang seniman bukan proses semata-mata “kebetulan”, namun sebuah proses yang disadari dan didasari oleh kekuatan khusus yang dimilikinya untuk menghayati proses itu sendiri. Proses yang dinikmati dan dimaknai tiap bagian detailnya, disitulah sesungguhnya seseorang memperoleh peluang menemukan yang diobsesikan dan apa-yang layak ditemukan, sebagai dampak langsung dari proses menjelajahi potensinya.

(The discovery process for an artist is not entirely accidental, but a process that is conscious and grounded upon the artist’s capacity to appreciate the process itself. It is a process that is gratifying and meaningful every step of the way, and this is truly where one may find what they are looking for and discern what deserves to be discovered, a direct result of exploring available potentials.)

Dedy Sufriadi – Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2017)

Regardless of the particular style in this artist’s body of work, Dedy Sufriadi’s compositions are visually compelling, more often than not coaxing the viewer to allow her or his mind’s eye to wander, intuitively navigating the canvas while engaging the works in unspoken conversations, the artworks speaking directly to the viewer’s sensibilities and soul.

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