Ideas in Masriadi’s Works (Part 1)

Ideas in Masriadi’s Works (Part 1)

Among an artist’s most expensive assets are ideas. Expensive because it needs further tracing and research, thus needing investments of funds, energy, and time. Expensive, also because ideas are trusted and embraced by the artist as the most essential unit in his/her works. Expensive, again, also because ideas are recognized (especially for conceptualists) as a kind of artwork by themselves. Therefore, many people say that selling artworks are “selling” ideas.

Ideas are principal content or abstracts or nodes of thought. These ideas are then realized through various mediums, ultimately tangibly sensed as paintings, sculptures, music, and other forms of art. An idea becomes a major part of a painting, in addition to forms. If ideas and forms are put together, then all the needs of the creator can be implemented. Conceptualists say that ideas are the prime product while materialists want tangible form and realized ideas to be held and observed together .

Broadly speaking , ideas or principal content are things to be revealed in a work . According to the philosopher Rene Descartes , an idea is an image or representation. As for Locke , an idea is a mental reconstruction to explain the problem of perception, described as an “impression.” According to other experts, such as G. F. Stout and J. M. Baldwin in the Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, an idea is “a reproduction that is more or less sufficient, or an object that is not really present to the senses.”

An idea can’t be bounded by anything , including classification. Ideas can’t be perceived and reconstructed from questions to the artist . I’m sure Masriadi will find the question “Hi Masriadi what are your ideas of your paintings? ” difficult to answer. Not because he is shy, even if he attempts willfully to respond, the answers may not materialize and when they do are not equivalent to what is painted.


Why ideas can be so intricate and complex ?

History has provided an answer. The development of fine art since prehistoric times until now, has spawned a several notions of ideas as the “backbone” of culture. Artists or guardians of culture that lived in each era, always study what they’ve seen and felt. Artists loathe having their works be “equated to” those of the previous generation or other communities. The artists would not be willingly recognized as cultural instigators with poor repertoires. All of this because in truth every living thing has differences.

Beyond the personal and individual problems of artists, the reason for the complexity of ideas cannot be separated from the context of situation and nature / environment . As we investigate further, artists as guardians of culture or sentries of civilization live to absorb environmental situations and conditions while passing them on to the community as fruits of thought and life lessons. There is nothing wrong with ideas being associated with nature and the surroundings of artists.

So the complexity of ideas is rooted in the reality that each person put in various parts of the world is different. This also applies to the painter Nyoman Masriadi . If we start from the very beginning , the problem of ideas is not an easy issue to explore nor answer.

I have studied about 150 Masriadi paintings he had done since university days to the present (1990s to 2013). Copies of the works are either in my personal archives or online. IVAA’s site is relatively complete. Some auction houses publish Masriadi’s works as part of their sales activities, such as Christie’s. 18 works are in Wiki Paintings, some of which are listed in IVAA’s site, some not.

In these 150 works there are a number of ideas that are rooted in a few things. Apparently, Masriadi did not want to limit himself to drawing things or exposing realities he observed. He is not drawing only fat people. Nor did he drew self-portraits, Bali island or banana eaters, without metaphor. It is clear that ideas initiated by Masriadi are more oriented towards attempts to create new narratives about things or objects he noticed.

He is more concerned with his own opinions as narratives or ideas, irrespective of their validity. After all, a painting is not an answer about the truth. The main issue in a number of Masriadis lies precisely in his efforts to promote reality to meta-reality. For him, depictions of fat people, self-portraits, the island of Bali, toys, and a number of objects and figures seen in this world are incomplete images. All require further contemplation. Ultimately, the paintings are new worlds for him. This is Masriadi’s meta-reality.

If we return to the beginning of this article, to the realm of philosophy, ideas in Masriadi’s mind can finally be articulated as “a reproduction that is more or less sufficient, or an object that is not really present to the senses.”

I should remind you , that the discussion of ideas in this article still revolves around the idea of “what is drawn.” A set of theories is required to clarify that the discourse of ideas in the history of thought has developed in such a way. It is not possible to discuss ideas in Masriadi’s works without basing them on those developments in thinking.

After the issue of “what is drawn,” obviously there are many issues yet undiscussed. Another endeavor is necessary to scrutinize in detail various ideas in the works of Masriadi. In addition, his technical ability and tools are worth discussing. After “what is drawn,” the next article will dive into the concept or idea of “how to draw.”

by Mikke Susanto – click here to read Masriadi’s Artwork Ideas (Part 2)