My Lonely Riot | Bali Advertiser July 2006

Artist : Ugo Untoro            
Period : July 30 till August 30, Everyday, 10.00AM till 9.00PM
Location:Biasa Gallery, Bali
 
Ugo Untoro was born in Purbalingga in Central Java in 1970. He studied at the Indonesia Institute of Art (ISI) in Yogyakarta, and, since 1988, he has exhibited extensively both in Indonesia and abroad. In his current exhibition ‘My Lonely Riot’, at the Biasa Gallery, he utilizes an unusual technique to create his challenging art works. ‘Corat-Coret’ literally includes the notions of ‘scribbling’, ‘doodling’, ‘casual drawing’ and ‘graffiti’. For several years Ugo has been “consciously, or otherwise, ceaselessly wrestling with the conventions, definitions and possibilities of ‘casual drawing’ in order to offer signs and meaningfulmessages”. Not to be confused with political street graffiti, which Ugo unashamedly rejects, he seeks to create a spontaneous art that comes directly from the unconscious, through its sources that are to be found in the Jungian ‘collective unconscious’, and in a language of personal iconography rooted in the circumstances of his life.
 
Many of Ugo’s works, for example ‘pregnant horse’, appear as quick ‘sketches’, while others, such as ‘circus of the self’, can be more dialectic, but, when viewed together, they take on the appearance of scribbled notes from a day-to-day visual journal that offer the viewer a glimpse into his tormented psyche. These child-like ‘doodles’ are a repository of ideas that can be elaborated and extended into his more serious and larger paintings.
 
A very confrontational work is ‘escape’, which addresses the most powerful image in religious iconography, namely the Christian cross. The image is open to various interpretations. One reading can imply that Christ himself found the pressure of his faith overwhelming, and decided to climb down from his cross and walk away from it, while the image could also imply that Ugo himself approached Christianity, and then he too decided to walk away. Either way, it is an arresting image that resonates deep within the viewer, tapping into, as it does, the ‘collective’ recognition of this universal icon. However, ‘crows want to be man’, utilizes Ugo’s more personal imagery, and in this work a poetic image of a flock of birds coming together in the form of a man creates an almost dreamlike, surreal, hallucinatory canvas. 
 
Whether Ugo is depicting signs from the ‘collective unconscious’, or from his own lexicon of symbols, all his works depict the curse of being an artist. “Ugo realizes his overwhelming emptiness but remains persistent to give meaning to it. He turns inward, to find the image of a human being that is similar with nature, which appears friendly and harmonious on the outside, but, is filled up with erupting commotions in the internal niches and layers”.
 
Ugo’s art can often be not pretty to look at.  He consciously rejects the concept of beauty, that particular combination of lines, forms and color that stir our aesthetic emotions. Ugo prefers a more spontaneous bravado, which displays a crude and gestural painting technique. Some of his paintings are humorous, some very personal, and others very violent. This violence can be interpreted to suggest a representation of the aggression within everyone, including the artist himself. A work, such as ‘the night is coming’, presents a horrific image of a man and dog, both on all fours, snarling and howling at the encroaching darkness. The painting is rough and crude. The line work, the brushwork, and even the balance of the image, is intentionally ‘wrong’. This ‘disturbance’ of the image intentionally intensifies the horror and latent aggression to be found in the painting. Many of Ugo’s paintings will intentionally show grotesque distortions and crude elementary execution in an attempt to enhance and highlight the image or scenario being depicted.
 
Cunningly, Ugo has also included in his exhibition one or two superb examples of his mastery of the figurative expressionist style. These works indicate that his use of spontaneous and crude image making techniques, or his ‘Corat-Coret’ technique, are a deliberate attempt at working without conscious control and are based on a deep understanding of his paint medium. The canvas ‘ibu dan anak insomnia’ may have a typical ‘dark’ theme, but, all-the-same, it is a wonderful piece of work where-in the brooding shapes are well balanced by excepts of text, subtly rendered birds, and skillfully controlled scratches, splashes andexpressive paint dribbles. 
 
Ugo Untoro’s exhibition ‘My Lonely Riot’ is a challenging show. There is much to be absorbed in the work, from his spontaneous ‘sketches’ to his crude depiction of violence. His works offer an insight into his personal demons that we may find have ramifications deep within our own psyche.