Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bits and Pix by Om Leo

Bits and Pix: an exhibition by Om Leo at Platform3 (14 April - 5 May 2012).

bits & pix – oomleo at Platform3
Roy Voragen

The rain had stopped and we gathered for an opening at Platform3 on a Sunday afternoon, April 14, to see work by Narpati Awangga, who is better known as oomleo. We come to Platform3 to meet our friends (and their kids) and see art.

Three prominent curators – Rifky Effendy, Aminudin TH Siregaror and Agung Hujatnikajennong – and three successful artists – Ariadhitya Pramuhendra, Wiyoga Muhardentet and Radi Arwinda – founded Platform3 in 2010 to offer artists a platform to experiment. Each year, solo exhibitions are loosely organized around a different theme: art and postcolonialism in the first year, art and religiosity the second, and this year art and global sensibility.

The exhibitions at Platform3 are a wonderful combination of ambition and a good sense of humor. Especially the last two exhibitions attest to that. Like, the previous exhibition, by Yusuf Ismail was a witty appropriation of the history of video art (subsequently, Yusuf Ismail won the Bandung Contemporary Art Award). And oomleo took it a notch or two up on the humor scale. After all, he must have thought, why should art be a serious business? Which doesn’t mean that his works look sloppy, the artworks are all very well executed.

After having completed art school in Yogyakarta, oomleo (b.1978) returned to the city of his birth: Jakarta. And while he was trained as a painter, he got involved in the electronic music scene and he formed the group Goodnight Electric. In Jakarta, he is also active with the prolific artists’ collective ruangrupa.

At Platform3, oomleo shows a different project he has been undertaking over the past five years: pixel art. He said he spent half his time during this period glued to computers and he calls himself “a servant of the digital world.” His pixel art is clearly influenced, as he admitted during the artist talk, by eboy. At first sight, oomleo’s work looks fun and accessible. Only at closer inspection, we see the absurdist twists and turns mixed with sardonic bites in these neatly displayed artworks. As he stated, his work “is a pixelization of imagination, desire, babble, stories, dreams, and so on.” He is the magician of bits and pixels. And during the artist talk, the focus was on the used techniques – probably because his way of working is unique in Indonesia – which had the unfortunate side effect that his absurdist expose of our globalized and mediated culture got somewhat underexposed.

In the meantime, Platform3 has a great year ahead. First, Platform will again join ArtHK. Later this year, Emmitan Contemporary Art Gallery, Surabaya, will organize an exhibition in collaboration with Platform3 with artists who have exhibited at Plaform3. And last but not least, Platform3 is planning to publish a book on their activities spanning the first two years, which, beside exhibitions and artist talks, include presentations and discussions. And it’s places like Platform3 that makes the contemporary art scene in Bandung so electrifying.

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