Roby Dwi Antono: TUK January 11th — February 17th, 2024 Almine Rech Broadbent House Grosvenor Hill London W1K 3JH
Almine RechLondon is pleased to present an exhibition of recent works by Roby Dwi Antono, on view from January 11 to February 17, 2024.
On the brink of a new decade, the 2010s in Yogyakarta/Jogja, the cultural capital city of Indonesia, a generation of young Indonesian artists spearheaded a new genre of art making, a localized hybrid of Pop Surrealism/low-brow art that heavily influenced the style of young painters around that time. Many of these artists carried a mix of Pop Surrealism blended with grass root sensibilities, with themesmainly explored everyday life, pop culture, local and global in each of their works.
This community grew from an independent and underground spirit influenced by various subcultures like popculture, indie movements, graphic novels,”lowbrow art”, pop surrealism, street-style fashion, and more. These influences also reflectedthe development of Indonesian post-Reformation youth culture.
Roby Dwi Antono stands out from this generation with a slightly unconventional path with his self-taught background and distinctive style, which sets him apart from his peers who mostly came from Jogja’s Indonesian Art Institute. Roby started working with acrylic paintings in 2011, but later focused on mastering oil on canvas as his preferred medium for his second solo exhibition, ‘The Way of Grace’ in Roby’s paintings are mosaics of his visual memories, commentaries and fantasies – often drawn from childhood, with signature ‘characters’ such as rabbits, little children and humanoid animals in a dreamlike setting, all executed with distinctive style and immaculate precision in his technique. His signature style remained consistent from 2012-2018, evident in his solo exhibitions ‘Januari di Utara’ (2015) and ‘Origins’ (2018), marking his significant debut on the international stage.
However, around 2019-2020, subtle changes started to appear in Roby’s paintings. The number of humanoids and childlike figures decreased, his visual became more simple and more abstracted, showcasing his evolving perspective on life and personal decisions, as demonstrated in his 2020 exhibition ‘Midnight Garden’ in San Francisco. Roby’s artistic style took a radical turn in 2022, evident in his exhibition ‘Rumpus’ in Tokyo, showing a shift from Pop Surrealism to Naïve Figurative style, addressing deeper existential questions on life and self. This evolution continued in his solo show at Almine Rech Brussels in early 2023. The theme of self-understanding and its connection to the external world, focusing on mindfulness and presence towards simple, intangible aspects of life like breathing and feeling the pulse and heart, has been further explored for this London exhibition.
This solo exhibition presents Roby’s works that he created since the birth of his firstborn daughter, Laut, in July 2023. Inspired by his experiences as a new father, the impact of starting a family, Roby confronts the challenges, joys and anxieties of parenthood all the while nurturing his hopes and dreams for the future. His maturing outlook on life has extended beyond comprehending his own life as an artist, but also his role as a member of a family and community. This shift led him to exploring a new artistic expression executed in rough, raw strokes and vivid colors. It is derived from a more domestic reality. It became more crucial to capture the ever-changing tension within him, then it is to depict a detailed landscape. The movement of his paint needs to articulate his emotion.
A recent imprinted recollection was of his daughter who accidently swallowed his wife’s amniotic fluid, if not treated in time it can cause serious breathing problem and even lead to pneumonia. He witnessed the struggle of his wife to produce breast milk as she tries to aid their baby to health, he realized the immense value of a single drop of milk.
These early obstacles became a welcomed routine one that created a deep bonding between him, his wife, and their daughter. It also influences his artistic process he is guided by a more mindful state of mind towards a more purified sense of awareness. For this new series, Roby has gone through a stylistic change from his earlier works, his method of drawing from personal memory remains a constant.
His childhood recollection in Ambarawa, central Java, where he had to create a man-made water source called “Belik”, a traditional well, and ‘Tuk’, a water spring that emerges from the well, is likened to their baby’s breast milk experience. In Roby’s village in the 1990s, many residents couldn’t afford to install centralized water services. His family would share his neighbor’s well, or they would often utilize the nearby river to wash and bath.
During the dry season when things became scarce the villagers adapted a traditional method of sourcing and cleaning natural ground water. They needed to create a ‘Belik’ and this was done by digging a shallow area near the dried river until they discovered a Tuk’, a spring, before the ground water was accumulated. Together they would distill and drain the murky water using stones and rocks until the impurities are filtered. In Roby’s words: “The act of creating a Belik to find a Tuk now feels like a metaphor to my journey as a family man. We are flawed beings with imperfections and there are traits I may carry and pass down unconsciously to my family.
Roby Dwi Antono: TUK opens on January 11th until February 17th, 2024, at Almine Rech London
Art Plugged is a contemporary platform inspired by a relationship with the broader arts communities. We provide our audience with curated insight into the world of art, from exhibitions to artist interviews and more.