Masriadi’s Artwork Ideas (Part 2)

Masriadi’s Artwork Ideas (Part 2)

Senyum Kuda, 2006

The postmodern philosopher Jean Baudrillard once wrote that if Modernism is characterized by exploitation, commodification, mechanization, technology and markets, the postmodern society is marked by implosion. Thus, fusing all boundaries, areas and differences between ‘high and low culture’, ‘appearance and reality’ and all other binary opposition that Modernism maintained. It means that Postmodernism performs the task of merging various fields. More specifically, the question about ideas in the development of contemporary art based on Postmodernism is not limited by the idea of singularity.

Another postmodern philosopher, Jean Francois Lyotard, continued by arguing that resistance to everything connected with big narratives has risen, this since the idea of the big narratives existing in the West were legitimized. The idea of nihilism, anarchism and pluralism in ‘language puns’ predominated, especially visible in the development of fine arts in the third world. It is useful to point out a new sensitivity towards “other worlds” that the West has yet to acknowledge. Therefore, Lyotard aspires the presence of dynamics, incessant effort in seeking experimentation and continuous revolution in life. In this case, the development of ideas is more based on small narratives resounded by artists in raising daily issues.

It means that an idea nowadays cannot be easily classified, unlike during the era when Modernism was developing. Back then, the specification of an idea could still be traced from an artist’s origin or background; currently this has faded. Although the idea is not easily classified, yet still characterized by several important things. The classification is not result oriented, but it refers to where the idea originated. In this case, a lot of things can be the source of ideas, generally originates from: objects and nature, events or history, technical processes and personal experience. Masriadi implemented this idea shift that Postmodernism included. The ideas composed by Masriadi strikes the rigid Western modernist world. Consequently, his work no longer reveals issues of style and isms that are used as a benchmark in the development of modern art. Imagine discussing his style and isms? It would be confusing!

Masyarakat Urban (2001)

Apart from style and genre, Masriadi’s work also dismisses the old principle on clear boundaries. In several works, the boundaries between individual and non-individual stories, between the commercial and non-commercial worlds, between real and fictitious space, between animation and reality, between mocking and praising, between playing and seriousness, between possibilities and impossibilities, between historical and a historical things are assembled, merged and at the same time separated by Masriadi.
This is anarchism; used by Masriadi through the combination of things that are deemed impossible; thus implementing an eclectic attitude.


In a nutshell, he paints absurd things that are impossible to be naturally thought of. Just look at his work Push (2003), which depicts a man and a woman pushing a rock (or is it a chocolate sponge?) on the beach, perhaps to dispose it into the ocean. In other works, for example Masyarakat Urban (2001), the composition did not depict a community of people, but it rather seemed like a box or a world of illusion on windows, staircases, or a set of curves and evening light. This eclecticism is the underlying principle; it proves that Masriadi is an artist who no longer questions the meaning of existence and the importance of ‘originality’ or ‘novelty’, as it did in the era of Modernism. He is not concerned with anything new, because he believes that within each person an idea is always shaded by other capabilities; thus what is born from that, is certainly something different and automatically new.

It is obvious; the ideas for Masriadi’s work come from matters that are close to him. He exploits the presence of games, magazines, popular news, sports, television – the television in his room is all day and everyday on – or even the presence of himself. The origin of his ideas is represented in his canvasses with the big concept he calls ‘fun’. In today’s philosophy study, Masriadi’s work process is the manifestation of a cultural clash.

Terlahir Dewasa, 2000

In the pre-modernist era, the big concept in art production dwelled on the principle of ‘form follows rituals’, or anything based on rituals, then in the modern era the simplified ‘form follows function’ emerged, followed by postmodern era where artists a la Masriadi employ the ‘form follows fun’ principle. Within this certain perspective, Masriadi is indeed in a between era. He is an ‘in-betweener’. He is both sub-ordinate and non-ordinate. He is considered and considers himself to be both a victim and a perpetrator. He thus becomes a merge between subject and object of his own ideas. Just take a look at the main characters in his canvasses, occasionally created as a robot (Terlahir Dewasa, 2000), or as a cartoon figure (Batman, 2007), but as well as a colorful human (Senyum Kuda, 2006, with blue figure, or the work Sasaran, 2006, with a red figure, or in Listening, 2004, with a figure that is naturally colored brown).

There aren’t any fixed ideas nor forms in Masriadi’s works. Masriadi makes the objects that are depicted or painted exist as partners of himself. His works as a result eventually become canvasses of his ‘in-between’ behavior. That is why the ideas in the works of Masriadi are not patterned as a code with the question: “What are you drawing?”, but rather with the question “What are you now ?”.

by Mikke Susanto – Click here to read Ideas of Masriadi’s Artworks (Part 3) : Fat/Firm Body