Category: Curatorial



Oversized doll heads of litle girls dominate the canvas, encompassed by vertical and horizontal lines, and graphic shapes that seep and melt around them. Whimsical creatures seem to stem from childhood fairy tales, peering out of the crowded background, inhabiting the frame.

The palette is subdued, with regular sweeps of muted brick reds and matte musby tard greens. Part comical, with strains of anime, Badruzzaman’s creations deconstructs human interactions and personalities, always with the lightest dash of discomfort for the onlooker.

On canvas is where Badru plays with elements to adorn his paintings, such as foliage and snaking lines, creating a more tangible impression of space. Extensions of the artist’s graphic design background is apparent in the cubic shapes, hexagons and squares, and tiled spatial details of his pieces.

The 27-year-old Yogyakarta-based artist, with his clean and defined lines, inclines to provide the two-dimensional impression of a sleek graphic novel rather than a work of brushed acrylic upon canvas. But Badru, a native of Lampung, was never predisposed towards comic books or the like. His main influences are the street art that run rampant on the walls of Yogyakarta. “Our attitude, our instinct was just to paint.” ist rarely displays his works, this being only his third exhibition. Though when he does, he prefers to express himself on a larger scale, saying “It seems such a waste to place my themes on a small canvas.”

His paintings veer more towards female characters, whose visage he bases on young women who enter his reality. While his male figures, possessing clown-like features, originate from the playful experimentation of his imagination. But these are not pictures of mirth. There is a sense of melancholy behind the children’s faces and, though resembling a jester in a royal court, Badru’s men holds something sinister behind their smiles. “People have their own characters, I paint them accordingly,” Badru said.

Though the characters who appear to menace his central characters and invade the background change with each new canvas, one makes a routine debut – a bile-green rotund shaped critter with sharp, eager little dentures. Badru has no name for his creature, simply calling it is a symbol of egoism. “I feel free to criticize people on canvas,” he said,” without them understanding that I have criticized them.”

His themes, Badru explains, all stem from personal experiences. Life’s daily fluctuations, minor joys, tediums, aches and interactions all play a part in Badru’s final pieces. He dips into his past and uses the memories to actualize his canvas. “I find more satisfaction with personal themes of love, friendship and day-to-day life.” Of a painting of a beautiful woman-child with crimson pilow lips and sad bedroom eyes, Badru had drawn on his experience with a former lover.

In a larger context, Badru does touch on universal themes, such as the desire to be accepted. A red-headed girl-child with a simple background, one of his earlier works, is Badru’s personal favourite. “She is a person who is lonely at heart, not accepted by the society around her,” Badru explained. He offers hope for his protagonist in the shape of a little bird that flies above her. “I see myself as this newcomer, in a strange place, looking for someone to befriend,” Badru explained.

Although there remains some paintings that Badru considers too personal to be displayed for the public to scrutinize or enjoy. “There are pieces which I’d prefer to keep for myself,” Badru said. “It is similar to how some people keep diaries, except mine is on canvas.”

Badru’s pieces can take up to two weeks to complete. Concepts, colours and timing are all swayed by the artist’s moods. “Emotion plays a factor,” Badru said. “If I am feeling emotional, I tend to use warmer colours.” With each piece, Badru begins with a rough sketch on paper before spilling his images onto canvas. “I feel the power [on the canvas] to be more creative. I can add and embellish,” said Badru, who does not feel limited to the original sketches he draws.

Badru has simple ambitions – to introduce his art to the public as he utilizes the canvas to release his past experiences and emotions. What he strives is to maintain a style that is unique to him. “It is hard to accept comparisons to other artists because I try so hard to create my own style,” said the artist. Badru, who has no formal training in fine arts, continues to develop his art, finding new techniques, adding and playing with dimensions to add to his eccentric tableaux. When he first started painting, his works were plainer, focusing only on the main characters. His backgrounds were rarely garnished with the detailed landscape and cacophony of critters as they are now. “I feel I want to try something new, to change the composition, the layouts,” Badru said of his newer pieces. Badru surrenders to the process of creation, unburdened by style trends or themes that are popular in the art market. What is important is to be as creative as possible,” stated Badru. “As for the art being good orbad, that is up to the public to judge for themselves.” —

Published: May 28, 2009

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