Barren, bleak landscapes sum up Januri’s first solo exhibition in KL. Trees have been butchered so that just a forest of stumps remains, a stoic arrangement of rocks mimics urban skyscrapers and seems to mock the parched land before it, and humans – where they are present in the painter’s 15 eerily desolate landscapes – float in the sky, unable to touch the ground. All pretty depressing, if you ask me. However, Januri’s works do highlight some nagging problems of our time – development, most noticeably, and how we’ve become so disconnected from nature. In a work titled ‘Floating’ (2011), where the aforementioned tree stumps and floating bodies are both present, the artist only reiterates the fact that he doesn’t have very high opinions of his own kind.
Are we such a bad bunch? Well, we’re certainly part of a large and unrelenting machine called progress. And as curator Mikke Susanto so eloquently puts, ‘To some extent, land has dehumanised humans’. It’s probably time that we started giving this issue a bit more thought, and where better to start than with this Indonesian artist’s works? Rachel Jena