Pa­per per­fect

In­done­sia artist Ir­fan Hen­drian sculpts pa­per into sturdy works of art.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ART - By ROUWEN LIN star2@thes­

IR­FAN Hen­drian does not paint on pa­per. He might shred, layer, glue, com­press, and bur­row with a router ma­chine into heavy stacks be­fore mount­ing them on the wall – but he will never paint on it.

His first solo ex­hi­bi­tion – Sed­i­ments – in Malaysia, cur­rently show­ing at Wei- Ling Gallery in Brick­fields, Kuala Lumpur, ex­plores pa­per, not as a re­cep­ta­cle for idea pre­sen­ta­tion, but rather, as the very ma­te­rial within which ideas are built.

“I want to cre­ate this im­pres­sion of pa­per be­ing a sculp­ture- like ma­te­rial, and not just a flat sur­face to paint on,” says the 28- year- old who is cur­rently based in Bandung, In­done­sia.

“Pa­per is easy to ma­nip­u­late, it is ver­sa­tile. So one ques­tion I al­ways ask my­self is how to present pa­per as a medium that is stronger than what most peo­ple think it is,” he adds.

Each of the 18 works fea­tured in Sed­i­ments is the prod­uct of a long and ar­du­ous process of layering pa­per upon pa­per, fol­lowed by chip­ping or hack­ing, or a grad­ual mould­ing into its fi­nal form.

The end re­sult is solid in ap­pear­ance, bear­ing lit­tle re­sem­blance to its orig­i­nal flat and frag­ile form. His time spent in book pro­duc­tion led him to ob­serve that mul­ti­ple lay­ers of pa­per can be stronger than ply­wood, and it can be sub­jected to much more rig­or­ous treat­ment than in its ini­tial form. True to this new­found dura­bil­ity, none of Ir­fan’s pa­per works are framed, cov­ered with glass, or pro­tected in any other way aside from a layer of var­nish.

It is a con­scious de­ci­sion, borne of his de­sire to put some dis­tance be­tween his pa­per works and the im­pres­sion of fragility so of­ten as­so­ci­ated with pa­per.

“Since I was young, I have al­ways been ob­sessed with tak­ing apart and mod­i­fy­ing things I see around me,” says the son of an en­gi­neer mother and math­e­ma­ti­cian fa­ther.

“Today, I con­sider my­self a mod­ern artist who sees him­self as an en­gi­neer of the ev­ery­day.”

Pa­per, for in­stance, is com­mon and unas­sum­ing in its “orig­i­nal” form, and it is pre­cisely this at­tribute that at­tracts Ir­fan’s at­ten­tion: the trans­for­ma­tion of the or­di­nary into the un­con­ven­tional, pro­vid­ing a close- up look at the un­tapped po­ten­tial of a ma­te­rial.

Ir­fan’s so­journ into the world of pa­per seems to be a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion: he has a graphic de­sign, print­ing and book- bind­ing busi­ness, which fu­els his artis­tic pur­suits in more ways than one. Many of his works com­prise dis­carded pa­per from his day job that are given a new lease of life.

“To a graphic artist, pa­per is a fin­ished medium. In art, it is of­ten used as a tem­po­rary medium where the im­age is more im­por­tant than the pa­per that it is painted on. But I want to break away from that, which is why I do what I do,” he ex­plains of this body of work.

Much like his ap­proach with de­sign, Ir­fan does not sub­scribe to the no­tion that an artist leave a per­sonal mark on his art.

“As a de­signer, you need to dis­ap­pear from your work. Peo­ple should see the de­sign, the idea – and not the de­signer who worked on it. So my art fol­lows the same prin­ci­ple. It is able to stand on its own, which is how it should be,” he says.

From a out­sider’s per­spec­tive, the work process for the pieces in Sed­i­ments sounds la­bo­ri­ous, repet­i­tive, even te­dious. Ir­fan con­firms that it is cer­tainly the case.

“I also make a big mess each time I work on some­thing, it gets re­ally dusty,” he shares.

But is the rep­e­ti­tion re­lax­ing, I ask. There must be a spe­cial some­thing that draws Ir­fan back to the same thing day af­ter day, night af­ter night.

“Re­lax­ing?” he asks with a laugh. “No, it is not. But once I start some­thing, I have to fin­ish it. When I have an idea, I want to see it to the end.”

It is a long jour­ney ahead of him, es­pe­cially as he be­lieves that he has only just skimmed the sur­face of pa­per pos­si­bil­i­ties thus far: “I think there is so much more to ex­plore with pa­per, and I am still test­ing the lim­its.”

Ifran Hen­drian’s solo ex­hi­bi­tion

Sed­i­ments is on at Wei- Ling Gallery, No. 8, Jalan Scott, Brick­fields in Kuala Lumpur till April 18. Call 03- 2260 1106. For more info, visit: weil­ing- gallery. com.

Photos: Wei- Ling Gallery

A close up of Ir­fan hen­drian’s

Dis­in­te­gra­tion # 4,

( carv­ing of com­pressed lay­ers of pa­per, 2016). It is part of his Sed­i­ments ex­hi­bi­tion at Wei- Ling Gallery in Kuala Lumpur.

Log # 1 – Sam­ple Of Klee ( shred­ded pa­per on board, 2016).

Abra­sion Con­trast # 4 ( carv­ing of com­pressed lay­ers of pa­per, polyp­tych of 11

works, 2015).

A de­tail of In­ner Log ( shred­ded pa­per on board, 2014- 2015).

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