“From the start, the vision was simple: we wanted to create Selasar Sunaryo Art Space (SSAS) to provide a space for creatives, especially those in Bandung, to freely showcase and express their works. Twenty-five years on, it has stayed the same,” shared founder and renowned artist Sunaryo, best known for his emotionally charged pieces that manoeuvre various natural materials.
Its walls have borne silent witness to the comings and goings of hundreds of exhibitions, workshops and residencies, the first of which fittingly showcased works from Sunaryo himself. To mark the opening of SSAS, in 1998, ‘Titik Nadir’ opened to the public, unveiling the artist’s sculptures and paintings, all covered in black cloth—a sombre expression of the grief and uncertainty that gripped the socio-political turmoil of the time.
Over the years, other pivotal exhibits have graced the space, navigating powerful themes and mediums from architecture, sculpture, painting and performances by local and international artists, from painter Agus Suwage, performance artist Melati Suryodarmo and Sunaryo’s mentor and sculptor Rita Widagdo, to recently, influential Swiss-French architect and modern architecture titan, Le Corbusier.
In celebration of its 25-year milestone, ‘Seperempat Abad (Quarter of a Century)’ presents an exhibition that candidly explores and captures the institution’s past, present and future legacy through new and archived works that trace back to its birth.
‘Et Cetera’ features pieces from Sunaryo that span his five-decade oeuvre, from sculpture, painting and installations. As if guiding visitors into the exhibition, seven teak stumps line the room to the exit, each representing Sunaryo’s milestone exhibitions.
Bearing the name of the exhibition, the 10-metre painting ‘Et Cetera’ (2023) impresses with bold and textured strokes in ochre yellow and gradient of black and white. Subtle references to time emerge in the tally marks and lined circular shapes that appear to mirror the teak stumps. It seems that Sunaryo was reflecting on not just the birth of the art space, but his own as an artist.
Downstairs in Ruang B, ‘XXXV: Archives and Prospects’ chronicles the exhibitions and initiatives that have taken shape over 25 years. A detailed time graph on the wall recounts each year’s milestones, while the ‘Index Room’ invites visitors to get acquainted with past exhibits through photographs, documentation.
“We wanted to create Selasar Sunaryo Art Space (SSAS) to provide a space for creatives to freely showcase and express their works. Twenty-five years on, it has stayed the same.” – Sunaryo
A few steps away, Sunaryo’s son and fellow artist, Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, transforms the Bale Tonggoh room into a space that simulates his own studio, displaying signature resin pieces that appear to capture the fluidity of the liquid pigment in mid-movement—frozen in time as they morph and splatter across the canvas or plexiglass, creating unpredictable compositions that appear both chaotic and still at the same time.
Though primarily showcasing recent works, the room also exhibits some of his earlier pieces like the ‘Ashfall (Meru-Api)’ (2019), which are pigmented with volcanic ash, a medium he’s been experimenting with since the eruption of Mt. Merapi in 2010.
In contrast to Arin’s liberating works, his wife, Syagini Ratna Wulan’s works emit a much more quiet, charismatic air. In Ruang Sayap, ‘Collected Fictions: Notes on Illuminance’ sees vintage glass cases and cabinets filled with a series of randomised objects, from a matcha bowl and whisk, camcorder to a rattan quilt cleaning duster.
“I want visitors to fill in the space with their own experiences and knowledge, allowing for a personal interpretation,” expressed Syagini. The artist maps the multiplicity of stories found in daily objects, alluding to each object’s ability to absorb a spectrum of meaning depending on the viewer.
Beyond a reminiscence of the past, the exhibition also hints at what’s next for SSAS, opening the dialogue for future initiatives. “One we’re concentrating on in particular is to heighten the sense of inclusivity in our exhibitions. For instance, in ‘Base Matters’ and ‘Collected Fictions’, we’ve launched a public programme for the disabled community and also extended the possibilities for the artworks to be experienced through various sensorial stimulants,” explained Arin.
From one room to the next, it may seem like there’s no one theme anchoring the works together. But the exhibition speaks to something larger, a meditation of a concept that defies definition: time. Honouring past achievements and capturing the present in its transitory state, ‘Seperempat Abad’ also symbolises the passing of the baton from Sunaryo to his son and daughter-in-law, Arin and Syagini. A continued dialogue, a forecast of the future for SSAS.
‘Collected Fictions: Notes on Illuminance’ and ‘Base Matters’ runs until 23 February 2024, while ‘Et Cetera’ and ‘XXXV: Aspects and Prospects’ runs until 21 April 2024 at Selasar Sunaryo Art Space in Bandung. For more details, click here.