At a fundamental level, Sunaryo’s practice has been devoted to painting as a medium. Over the last ten years, his work represents extensive research aimed at answering questions such as: What are the outermost limits for an object so that it can still be called ‘a painting’? Can particular existing visual idioms that are identical to painting still be used to deconstruct the notion of painting itself?
Sunaryo’s paintings have certainly departed from his experiments with materials. Yet, to a conceptual extent, his choice of material is part of an approach towards a method of creation that can transform an object into a painting. For Sunaryo, to paint is to preserve something. Painting, and perhaps other forms of art, represent humanity’s resistance against impermanence. It is partly for this reason that Sunaryo deliberately utilizes resin as a liquid material that seemingly defies time. As it hardens and transforms into a solid, canvas-like, square form, and ‘preserves’ some particular painterly images.
Silent Salvo presents Sunaryo’s recent painting series using volcanic ash as the main colour pigments. At a glance, his works recall abstract, drip paintings from the 1950’s and expressionist energetic actions with paint. Sunaryo indeed explores different forms of splashes and melts with his resin. In these paintings, however, the bursting forms also relate to the volcanic substance that he employs to create the colour composition. The greyish nuance derives from his experience watching the rain of airborne ash resulting from the Mount Merapi volcanic eruptions in Indonesia in 2006 and 2010. As we examine further, some paintings not only present splashes of grey tones on a flat, slick surface, but also an illusion of depth resulting from the overlapping photographic images embedded within the transparent resin layers. Sunaryo combines the splashes of pigmented resin with digital images and his own resin wastes to create complex self-referential compositions.
With such high precision and labourious techniques, Sunaryo transforms the resin into smooth, flat, slick, and shiny objects. Sunaryo to machine-made objects, some paintings reflect lights like mirrors or computer screens. As onlookers stand before them, other vague images on the resin planes are discernable in addition to the reflections of the viewer’s own gaze. The works thus reveal universal ideas concerning voyeurism and ideas surrounding the interaction with art within a gallery setting.