Indra Dodi

When he first came to Yogyakarta in the year 2000, Indra Dodi started to learn painting from his uncle who happened to be a painter. From the year 2005 on he studied in the Faculty of Fine Arts (Painting) at the Indonesian Institute of Arts (ISI – Institute Seni Indonesia) in Yogyakarta. In the beginning, he went through several styles and techniques, including realism and expressive painting, before finding freedom in abstract painting, where he could explore his feelings and exercise his spontaneity. This sense of freedom and inner liberation has certainly influenced his later paintings, and helped build his self-confidence.
Since the beginning of his artistic journey, Indra has always considered painting to be a very serious activity, requiring a lot of personal commitment, technical skills, knowledge, energy and imagination. But it is also fun and playful, something he wanted to see finally represented on the canvas, too. This sense of fun and play provides one of his sources of motivation for his artworks. Indra’s work emphasizes that one must learn to close one’s eyes and to return to a childlike mentality in order to find the source of artistic creativity, which is an expression of the inner-self.
Today, he watches his children play, finding inspiration in their ways of learning how to cope with this world that is still new and unknown to them. These experiences have cumulatively contributed his adoption of naïve figurative paintings as his current style. Indra likens art to play, and thinks human beings should invest more time to play around like practiced in youth. Responding to a playful impulse means following one’s inner truth. Art, to him, is just copying that. Beauty is a truth that has to be trusted as a true expression of the soul. The best outcome would be this energetic fun part of art making being recognized and appreciated by viewers. Art would then generate pleasure for both, artists as well as observers.
For Indra, reality can be something quite fierce and frightening, but at the same time quite paradoxical, with funny and humorous aspects. In essence, life is not one-sided. Indra tries to catch moments and save them deep within his memory, like a photographer taking snapshots with a camera, later evolving these memories into stories that are painted on canvas. The stories can be taken from an event in daily life, from reality or even imagined. It could be a chain of accidental events, maybe unrelated and unpredicted.
Each of his paintings is a message of a rebellion deep inside of him. Why must objects be a specific color? Why do we always have to agree and must not oppose? What Indra feels is an inner restlessness, and the wish to escape. These scenes from daily life contain elements of comedy and drama, emotions and mysteries. It could be compared to movies, showing in their plots the variety and facets of human life. People are often struggling with their emotions, ambitions and aspirations. Sometimes people succeed, yet other times they don’t. Success and failure, to Indra, is a steady cycle of changes we are confronted with. Emotional conditions like happiness and sadness are two sides of the same coin; like beauty and ugliness, all of it is human.
The faces visualized in Indra Dodi’s portrait paintings tell their own story. Life is engraved into the features of human faces and bodies. The physical appearance is a metaphor for psychological states, exposing the specific characteristics of a person and their attitudes. Facial and physical expressions reflect their biographies; people can be tall or short, fat or thin, yet the focus of each work likes in their diverse expressions.

Generally, abstractions in his current work are a condensation of multiple metaphors. Exaggerating the monstrous or ugly aspects reveals the real nature of humans as well as that of animals and imaginary creatures. In his painted stories – which Indra considers to be more like visualized poems – many different objects/items appear, for example weapons like swords, daggers and pistols, and even skulls. Ferocious looking dogs flashing their teeth and other grim creatures can be seen intermingling with scenes of daily life. They are just part of the totality of life, as lighter aspects are often mirrored by the darker, more frightening parts of everyday life. All these scenes are a subjective view, more like a colorful kaleidoscope, changing their shapes and structure when being moved. Horses, dogs, snakes, elephants, cows, and certainly the cactus (which is thorny) are part of this world. Intermingling with the variating textures and shapes seen in daily life, sometimes even humans look more animal-like.

Indra Dodi looks at things from a view different from the conventional. His paintings are a different way of speaking about reality or to tell things from his own perspective, such as the environment, villages, society, stones, mountains, rivers, rain, clouds, partying, love, being drunk, women, children, land, language, alphabets, etc. Indra has developed and found his own visual language. The narrative structure is open to interpretation, and there is still much left to the imagination to the viewer. Written words or letters sometimes turn up on the canvas, objects connecting with the text. Most of the text consists of words that cannot be understood. They are not supposed to have meaning, merely visual elements, but at the same time they speak about the text and images. Lines of letters flow like a river and colorful letters are blossom like in a flower garden. The epic and narrative structures appear to have transformed into fantasies. It is, in essence, visual poetry.

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