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Band of sober



Uji Handoko Eko Saputro


25 Feb 1983 –

No image
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Yogyakarta Central Java Java Indonesia
    Media category
    Materials used
    acrylic on canvas, auto paint on polyester resin
    213.0 x 183.0 cm
    Gift of Tiffany Wood-Arndt 2022. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Uji Handoko Eko Saputoro
    Artist information
    Uji Handoko Eko Saputro

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Known as Hahan, Uji Handoko Eko Saputro (born 1983 in Indonesia) is one of the most prominent Indonesian artists of his generation. Like many of his contemporaries in Yogyakarta he draws on imagery from cartoons, anime and popular culture that are synthesized with references to Javanese tradition and the politics of the day.

    Band of sober offers a wry commentary on the artworlds in which the artist operates and in doing so brings into perspective the various idiosyncrasies of the art infrastructure peculiar to Indonesia where there are no state¬-supported art galleries or museum curators. In this vacuum, horizontal networks of artist-run spaces, collectives and freelance curators have emerged to facilitate relationships between emerging artists and international art institutions. Artist collectives form an important part of this ecosystem, serving to consolidate resources and provide opportunities for learning, exhibition and sales. In Band of sober the collective is personified by the central blue figure, whose many legs but single head symbolise a collective effort in working towards a shared vision. The rich iconography of the painting draws on many sources. For instance, the figure standing on a snake covered in dollar signs is borrowed from catholic imagery of the Virgin Mary stamping out temptation in the form of the snake and is a reminder to all artists of the perils of the art market. The inclusion of the book titled ‘How to be a famous artist’ and the banner, ‘never give up’ convey a playful criticism of what the artist understands to be the formulaic but uncertain and sometimes fleeting nature of international success. The artist suggests that the hangover inflicted by the intoxicating highs of the art boom must be meet by a ‘Band of sober’ young artists poised to steady themselves against the challenges of online promoters and speculators circulating like little Twitter birds, only occasionally showering the artists in golden droppings. A repeated pattern of flowers and volcanoes forms the background and reminds the viewer of the localised context in which Hahan works. The flowers represent several species found across the archipelago and the volcanoes are appropriated from the 1865 painting, Merapi, eruption by day by the esteemed Indonesian painter Raden Saleh. In Hahan’s words, the imagery ‘represents nature and the equatorial geopolitics where I reside and work.’