For the 2023 edition of Art Dubai, Yavuz Gallery is pleased to present Exoticism is a debt that can never be fully repaid, (but we have the power to challenge and transform it), a solo presentation by Indonesian-artist Zico Albaiquni, at the Bawwaba sector curated by Vipash Purichanont.
The presentation will showcase new paintings by Albaiquni that continue his critical exploration of the hierarchies, binaries and legacies of Western coloniality in relation to the Asian art history canon. Albaiquni’s practice serves as an index to tap into history to isolate and spotlight Asian art, with a focus on Indonesia from the lens of colonialism. Known for his striking neon colour palette and challenge of hegemonic narratives of representation and interpretation, he deconstructs and dismantles international artistic and exhibition practices, through his unique process of image-making and compositions. He then heavily embeds and weaves historical references and reinterprets imperial archival imagery with past and re-imagined scenes and narratives.
As the artist states:
“The purpose of [my new body of work] is to explore the impact of exoticisation on the canon of art history and to reveal its enduring effects. The Western Canon often distorts reality, creating a representation that often becomes the new reality experienced by people. This phenomenon is particularly evident in my own cultural background, where Mooi Indie used beauty as a tool to mask the truth and perpetuate exploitation, exoticisation, dehumanisation, and enrichment for colonisers and their allies. However, this is not unique to my culture, as similar patterns can be seen in Orientalism, where cultural values are reduced to stereotypical tokens.”
For Art Dubai, Albaiquni has keenly selected colonial images from various periods and contexts, with the goal of initiating a dialogue between these diverse representations. In Loosely Romantic: Uncovering the Unacknowledgedfor instance, Albaiquni draws upon imagery of the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai, splicing it alongside Rudolf Ernst’s The Musicians (1886), and historical images from the 1883 International Colonial And Export Exhibition to speak of the objectification and exoticism of non-Western cultures. In Go Tribal to Go Global to Go New Tribal,Albaiquni further spotlights on the former 1883 colonial exhibition, weaving in archival photos, a landscape by Kartono Yudhokusumo, and Van Gogh’s Sorrowing Old Man, examining the damaging ideals of a tropical Asian paradise.
The themes in Albaiquni’s paintings are further echoed in a specially-designed wall at the centre of our booth, depicting a geometric composition. This specific composition is a leitmotif in Albaiquni’s works, an abstraction based upon Mooi Indie painting traditions where Indonesian landscapes are often composed with a road in the centre leading to a sunrise/sunset, cocooned by two mountains on either side.
With Exoticism is a debt that can never be fully repaid, Albaiquni presents a rich and complex inspection of the exoticisation and objectification of non-Eurocentric cultures and histories that continue to be institutionalised constructs that we face in plain sight. As Albaiquni notes, “exoticisation is a seductive veneer that blinds us to reality, sometimes masquerading as identity or heritage. To avoid perpetuating stereotypes, I must constantly question and challenge my own understanding of heritage. By doing so, I hope to reclaim it as a powerful tool for uncovering the unacknowledged.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Zico Albaiquni (b. 1987, Indonesia) holds an MA and BFA from the Institute Technology of Bandung, Indonesia. He has exhibited extensively in Indonesia, as well as in Australia, Italy, France, Austria, Netherlands, Hong Kong and Singapore. Recent curated shows include: Our Colonial Inheritance, Tropenmuseum, Netherlands (2022), On the Nature of Botanical Gardens, Framer Framed, Netherlands (2019), Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia, the National Gallery of Australia (2019), 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Australia (2018-19), and JAVA – Art Energy, Institut des Cultures d’Islam, France (2018). In 2015, Albaiquni was awarded the Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur (Ministry of Education, Art and Culture, Austria) Residency, resulting in two solo shows in the capital city of Vienna. Albaiquni is collected by the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (Australia), National Gallery of Australia, Singapore Art Museum, Museum MACAN (Indonesia), Bega Valley Regional Gallery (Australia) and the Tropenmuseum (Netherlands).