The Year 2008 - Astari
Astari is one of Indonesia's foremost contemporary artists and a leading light among Southeast Asia's feminist artists. She weaves together disparate threads from her traditional Indonesian upbringing and her own rebellious spirit, producing eye-catching and thought-provoking work that challenges and amuses her audience.
Born in Jakarta in the 1950s, Astari first studied English Literature at the University of Indonesia, after which she pursued art studies at the University of Minnesota (1987) and the Royal College of Art in London (1988).
Having been raised from a traditional Javanese family, the years that Astari had spend abroad has led her to develop a critical view of the role, image and position of women in current Indonesian society. Through her works, viewers are drawn to the existing social issues facing Indonesia as well as part of Asia, where feudalism and aristocracy are still thick and strong in these emerging societies.
Astari's style has shifted from abstraction with bold strokes, bright colors and surrealistic overtones to works that have more conceptual content, through which she later formulated her own specific artistic style. Her paintings are representations of women in their environment, delivered through the ubiquitous self-portrait of the artist. Apart from two-dimensional media such as painting collage, she has also successfully created three-dimensional sculptural works as work to convey her ideals.
Astari has showcased her works since early 1980s, participating in various group exhibitions in Indonesia as well as abroad including in Singapore, Paris, Moscow, Italy and New York. Between 1999 and 2001 she held solo exhibitions in Indonesia. In 1999 she earned the Philip Morris Indonesia Art Award and won the Windsor & Newton Indonesia Award Millennium Painting Competition.
Astari's works act as societal mirrors, reflecting in mock-seriousness and implicit humor the clash of the uncomfortable strictures of tradition, the constant hunger of luxurious consumerism and the hidden violence implied in both.
An ironical transposition appears in Astari's beautiful painting of a lady by the window treated in a renaissance manner. Holding instead of flowers, a basket full of weapons, guns, grenades and bullets next to the New York cityscape of the destroyed Twin Towers, framed by old Balinese drawings, questioning the change in values man the new world order writes Jean Marc Decrop, CNES Expert in Chinese and Asian Contemporary Art, on Astari's work Bouquet of Weapons.