Tyler Rollins Fine Art is pleased to present Agus Suwage’s first solo exhibition in the United States, taking place in our New York gallery from March 3 – April 23, 2011. Entitled The End Is Just Beginning Is the End, it will feature a new series of paintings and sculptures especially conceived for the gallery. Suwage has long been fascinated with the unique properties of unusual materials, and for this exhibition he has for the first time created a body of work using sheets of zinc. He makes use of the dappled, monochromatic surface of unfinished zinc panels, manipulating them to create contrasting areas of dark, rough patina, the whole suggesting at times a sandy beach or a rocky outcropping. On this backdrop, he paints enigmatic scenes that make reference to some familiar motifs of his work, such as the human skeleton and his own self-portrait. Images of the artist emerge from the raw zinc surfaces, transforming into skeletons that slowly fall apart and fade into the natural environment. For Suwage, these works are a meditation on birth, life, death, and nature, embodying his search for meaning that transcends dogma and ideology. Like a vein of rock that has been split open to reveal fossils of strange creatures, these works give us an insight into the artist’s own inner world of dreams that hover between past and future, life and death.
Agus Suwage is one of the giants of Indonesian contemporary art and is among the most sought after contemporary artists from Southeast Asia. Over the past few decades, his works have been shown in a number of international biennials, such as the Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane, Australia (1996), the Gwangju Biennial (2000), and the Singapore Biennial (2006). He has been featured in almost 150 museum and gallery exhibitions around the world, and his works are included in most comprehensive collections of Southeast Asian contemporary art. In 2009, the Jogja National Museum in Indonesia devoted all three floors of its building to a major retrospective of Suwage’s works of the past 25 years, including paintings, sculptures, and installations. A 670-page monograph of his work, Still Crazy After All These Years, was recently published.
The past year has garnered much international attention for Suwage, with eager anticipation of his New York debut. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal mentions the intense interest in Southeast Asian art in 2010, going on to report that “among the most coveted names was Agus Suwage, who has been busy in his Jogyakarta studio preparing for his first New York show, due to open in March at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, one of the city’s top venues and the only major gallery in New York featuring top contemporary Southeast Asian works.” Despite his international reputation, Suwage’s work has so far been little seen in the US, and we hope that The End is Just Beginning Is the End will mark an important opportunity for American audiences to become familiar with his art.