Astari (b. Jakarta, Indonesia, 1953)
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 works that challenge and amuse 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).
Raised in a traditional Javanese family that live abroad for a number of years, she developed a critical view of the role, image and position of women in current Indonesian society. Through her works, viewer are drawn to the current social problems facing Indonesia as well as Asia, where feudalism and aristocracy are still thick and strong in these newly democratic 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 . other than two-dimensional media such as painting collage, she has also successfully created three-dimensional sculptural works to convey her messages.
The artist tackles her subjects with a combination of criticism, anger and humor. On a single canvas she assembles around her self-portrait silk screens of traditional Indonesian images and old paintings, images of branded handbags as symbol of consumerism, and often a gun to incorporate the element of violence and terror in our contemporary real life.
Astari's works act as societal mirrors, rreflecting 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 and the new world order writes Jean Marc Decrop, CNES Expert in Chinese and Asian Contemporary Art, on Astari's work Bouquet of Weapons.
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.
La Vie en Rose
Ladies of Peace
Kelly and AK 47