Quick-witted and humorous, Handiwirman Saputra is an artist whose works reinvent the notions of triviality and normalcy. Perhaps driven by a need to differentiate himself from the grand narratives of Yogyakarta Art, which are tightly connected to social and political discourse, Saputra chooses instead to poeticize the objects of everyday, and experiments with human perception in order to transform the ordinary into the monumental. Peculiar yet recognizable at the same time, Makan characterizes Saputra’s masterful creative vision, as he inverts the dimensions of a singular chicken and egg, creating an ironic juxtaposition of size and dominance. When observing the present lot, one cannot help but be reminded of the age-old question: “What came first?” Saputra puts a playful spin on the dilemma and provides us with an answer so unclear that it almost seems acceptable on an introspective level. Yet the sheer scale and physicality of the sculpture, emphasizes the fragility of the massive egg and impresses upon its viewers to reckon with its very presence.
The title of this work presents a sobering tone to the otherwise witty illustration. Makan, meaning eat, eating or food in English, further probes viewers to question their preconceived notions of the egg-chicken relationship. Rather than being explicit, Saputra uses his titles as modes of indirectness, which allows for his viewers’ unadulterated and liberated interpretations. This disassociation and contemplation is exactly what Saputra seeks to evoke – he waits for us to connect perceived forms of his works with things that are familiar in our daily life, then swiftly breaks that point of recognition, and unveils that what we see is something ultimately unidentifiable. This strange absurdity has long been a hallmark of Saputra’s oeuvre since the mid-2000s, as he prompts his viewers to experience an otherworldly reading of his materials and composition. In Makan, we witness Saputra’s firm grasp on the power of perception and imagination, as he reconfigures items of the ordinary and projects them onto an enormous scale, which finds within them a creative rebirth that intrigues like no other.
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