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A Window into the Soul: The Grit and Sophistication in the Works of Dedy Sufriadi

Known for his tenacity and radical mastery of his technique, the works of Indonesian artist Dedy Sufriadi tread the lines of intelligence and intuition. Taking a dip into his mind through his past interviews with us at Ode To Art, we explore the realms of

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By Bridget
Characterised by his bold use of colour and ambitious use of text, the works of Indonesian artist Dedy Sufriadi embodies a sense of raw power, drawing the viewer into its multifaceted visual narrative. Based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, the abstract artist uses his artistic process to explore the ideologies and conflicts he encounters regarding his themes of Indonesian nationality, culture, and the human mind. 

Hide and Seek, 2014. Dedy Sufriadi, Acrylic on Canvas, 150x150cm. 

Inspired by the attitudes of artists such as Indonesian painter Affandi and African-American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sufriadi has gathered many of his own accolades, which propelled the artist onto the global stage amongst his peers. Working with mixed mediums and paint, his works are a dizzying amalgamation of hidden symbols, texts, and icons that reflect his own process and method of self-expression. Despite his inspirations, Dedy does not view his practice as one of a “graffiti artist”, and rather an expressionist work. His works are unabashed, and its beauty lies in the sheer tenacity and weight of emotions that are presented to the viewer without any fear or discretion. In an interview with our gallery, Sufriadi reflected on the reasons and shortcomings that come with this methodology of his discipline.

“I am always challenged in my attempt to paint with larger canvases and to paint quickly, as it is my habit to complete the painting before my emotions run out. Sometimes I am successful but many paintings have failed as well. Emotions are predominant in some of my paintings, and as an expressionist painter, the greatest power lies in intuition and spontaneous emotional scratches. I constantly probe intuition, strength, and emotion in my paintings.” 

World Under Series: Habitus #1. Dedy Sufriadi, Mixed Media on canvas, 145x200cm. 

Halloween Party, Dedy Sufriadi, Mixed Media on Canvas, 100x100cm. 

In an attempt to feel and express emotions in the most raw, visceral forms, Sufriadi has grown into an artist that embodies the highs and lows of his soul into his works. In his World Under Series, he tackles his inner conflict towards themes of consumerism and social stigma by deconstructing his own assumptions in order to reorientate his values and emotions. In his Childish series, Sufriadi places himself in the hands of intuition so as to observe naivety and intellectual perception through the mind’s eye of a child. 

Childish Series: Flying Object, 2017. Dedy Sufriadi, Acrylic on Canvas, 150x150cm. 

My Father's Car and his Story, 2013. Dedy Sufriadi, Mixed Medium on Canvas, 150x200cm. 

In this piece, “My Father's Car and his Story”, Dedy explained the paradoxical realms between his own relationship with his father, who had dreamed of owning his own car but never lived to achieve his aspirations. The painful irony was highlighted through his father’s job at an automobile servicing store, his unrequited dreams barely out of reach in life and death, as his children grew to own their own cars after his passing. 

Robbin. Dedy Sufriadi, Mixed Medium on Canvas, 150 x 150 cm. 

In addition to his own patterns of self-critique and exploration, Dedy Sufriadi often confronts the barriers between irony, criticism, and how the art world regards aesthetic ideologies. His works take references from various academic texts, music, parody, which make appearances through his imagery or juxtaposed writing scenes. His relationship with traditional aesthetics in visual art is a convoluted one, brought on from his time spent while studying painting at University, where realism was upheld as an aesthetic standard one needed to achieve.

“When I was studying painting at school and university, we were always taught to draw as realists. What we see from our eyes is what we should paint. I always refused standard painting styles and since realism required objects to be proportional, I tried to modify and distort some of my subjects and make them no longer proportional. Not drawing as a realist opens up many exciting possibilities for me.” 

Number Series, Dedy Sufriadi. Acrylic, Oilbar, Permanent Pen On Canvas, 195 x 400 cm. 

Constantly questioning himself and pushing the boundaries of his craft, his philosophical explorations of the self translate themselves into the organised chaos often associated with his works. His mastery of strong compositions of entangled words and symbols is what imbues Dedy Sufriadi’s works with power and meaning. Through his abstract works, the artist explores the borders between discipline, literary text, and visual storytelling of what he “sees'' beyond the simple, earthbound ideologies. Refusing to be bound by a particular discipline, his artistic language allows for him to consistently explore new subject matters while returning to an iconic style of work that his collectors recognise him for. Striking and honest, the works presented in his various collections are an instinctive call to the flesh and mind, goading us to question our own values while captivating us with the chase for the meaning behind his emotional upheaval. 

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