Ugo Untoro (1970)

Art Exhibition at The Oberoi, Bali.
From August 20 to October 29, 2018


flyer web A4 Ugo Untoro 1



There are artists that are easy to write about. For some, their work is narrative, and you can write a few pages about it. For other ones, it their style or manner that present interesting features. There is similarly no problem writing about them. A pinch of theory of color here. A whiff of post-modern discourse there, and you do have your curatorial piece.

If you are a journalist, it is even easier: you talk about the success the artist has met with, the famous women he has slept with –for a man, because women artists are not supposed to boast about sex—and other things of the same ilk. Ya, writing about artists is sometimes very easy.

Yet, when writing about Ugo Untoro, I too would like, like the curators and writers above, be able to clearly define him. For the sake of writing, and by mere arrogance. But I cannot. And the problem, in the matter, does not lie with my proclivity to easily write about stupid things, or with the paucity of his expression. It simply lies with the peculiarity of his work.

Ugo Untoro is a major figure of the Indonesian art world. He makes paintings that are abnormally “bizarre”. But don’t take the word in a negative sense. If I could, I would call them ʺfantasticʺ, but they are not. His imaginary is not wild, it is ʺapartʺ: instead of ʺexpandingʺ it into the unknown, he reduces it to ʺbanalʺ elements that have a strange aftertaste. He has his own way to ʺcutʺ represented objects, or to feature part of an icon such as a horse, which somehow has something special about it, and takes us ʺsomewhereʺ over there without us being able to know what it is all about.

So, let us say that Ugo Untoro has a world of his own. What he represents may be a horse, an archetypical human figure, a space void of anything except for something that looks like earth. But the horse does not symbolize power, the human archetype does not announce anything, nor is the “earthʺ piece an abstract statement. The impression is simply of isolation, miscommunication, fake pride and failure, conveyed here by color, there by the strangeness of the composition. But always bizarrely ʺpresentʺ.

Yes! Ugo Untoro only talks about himself. And his unique lonesomeness. It is what makes him a brother of us all.


Jean Couteau Ph.D




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