Masriadi is at his most witty when he plays off subtlety with strong imagery, the unspoken with the underlying truth, playfulness with gravity. All of these elements come together perfectly in Are You Sure?. The composition is very simple one; a zoomed-in image of a man and a woman sitting on what appears to be a plush sofa with the distant sea in the background. The viewers are intended to see them from a voyeuristic perspective. They are only visible in profile, with the woman's arms stretched out on top of the sofa, almost enveloping the man from behind. Despite being on a sofa, his face is anxious and his shoulder is tense. He is grinning uncomfortably, scratching his head, and the mirth doesn't quite reach his eyes. The woman, on the other hand, is looking at him with a piercing gaze. Her lips are upturned in a smile, but there are signs on tensions in her frown. Behind them a beautiful, white sandy beach and azure blue sea beckon and are ignored.
Less obvious, but equally important, are Masriadi's scribbles. With a black marker the artist drew a ring on the woman's thumb, which seems too small for it, and wrote "Baru sekali ini, thx loo" (Only been this once, thanks!) underneath it. Hidden among the strands of her hair is another scribble, "Kok jadi ya, gile da" (How come it happened? Crazy). The viewer gets only snippets of the unfolding drama and fills in the space from their own imagination and deduction. What are they getting ready for? Is it to take a plunge, both literally in the big ocean, and figuratively, to make a more serious commitment? Subtle clues and nuances in the picture, most visible in the the contours of the face and the scribble, indicate reluctance from both parties – each daring the other to admit it first.
Are You Sure? illustrates the complexities of relationships but the concerns it poses is not limited to it. Beyond the superficial tableau of male/female dynamic, Masriadi reveals the restlessness that the two figures experienced, despite being in the most relaxing and comforting surroundings. Ultimately, Masriadi appears to suggest that the certainty in making decisions come from being at ease from within; to be honest and open with feelings and experiences, to trust, and to have courage to go beyond one's comfort zone toward the unknown. The present work was completed at the end of 2010, a few months before Masriadi's successful first US solo show in New York in April 2011. Placed in this context, Are You sure? can be viewed as an important milestone that commemorates Masriadi's foray across the great, big sea; the mark signaling that he is finally ready to take the plunge into the great unknown.
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