Arin Sunaryo's 'Argo' at Simon Lee Gallery

The Indonesian artist's first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom since 2010
By Ian Tee

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Ajanabh', 2019, volcanic ash, resin, and digital print mounted on wooden panel, 158 x 196 x 5cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Ajanabh', 2019, volcanic ash, resin, and digital print mounted on wooden panel, 158 x 196 x 5cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery.

Bandung-based painter Arin Sunaryo approaches the subject of place through a distinctively conceptual and formal lens. Best known for works made by pouring resin mixed with volcanic ash on plexiglass, these abstract compositions connect his homeland with the language of gestural painting. Titled 'Argo' which translates from Javanese to "mountain', his solo exhibition at Simon Lee Gallery London, continues his experience and exploration of the mountains of Indonesia, a significant feature of the landscape and culture.

The paintings on view present the latest development of Arin's 'Ash' series (2012), which propelled him into international prominence when it was included in the Guggenheim Museum's touring exhibition 'No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia' (2013). 'Volcanic Ash Series #4' is also the first work by an Indonesian artist permanently on view in the Guggenheim's collection. Resin is used as both a binding and preserving agent, which the artist layers to evoke the quality of molten magma. "The uncertainty of the final effect that the resin and volcanic ash produces once mixed and poured, resonates with the sense of uncertainty that disaster is distant, yet imminent," says Aenon Loo, Director of Simon Lee's Hong Kong Gallery. 

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Kaliasa', 2019, volcanic ash and polyester resin mounted on wooden panel, 245 x 196 x 5cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Kaliasa', 2019, volcanic ash and polyester resin mounted on wooden panel, 245 x 196 x 5cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery.

Departing from the dynamic splashes and cascading flows in earlier volcanic ash paintings, the ones in 'Argo' are suggestive of landscapes with their horizon lines and stacked planes. In preparation for this body of work, the artist spoke to residents living near Merapi Volcano, famous for its violent eruptions. Their emotional memories of the eruption and its impacts formed a profound relationship between his native land and the material. Thus, Arin's translation of these experiences into abstract landscapes can be read as a gesture of preserving memory amidst changing natural surroundings.

This exploration of the conceptual is an approach shared between Arin and the artists represented in Simon Lee Gallery's programme. "As a gallery with an international reach, we research each region in depth to find artists to work with who align with the gallery’s core contemporary programme," Loo adds. "We work with and represent Asian artists such as Keiji Uematsu, Yun Hyong-keun, and Daido Moriyama, however this is the first time the gallery has worked with an Indonesian artist."

'Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo: Argo' will run from 4 April to 1 June 2019 at Simon Lee Gallery, London.