One of the most progressive and radical new artists to emerge from Indonesia, Budi Ubrux is less a visionary than an acerbic social reactionary. Prior to winning the Philip Morris Indonesian Art Award in 2000, Budi Ubrux was a billboard artist and painter based in Switzerland.
His paintings are powerful satirical observations on social degeneration through the alarmingly haunting aesthetic of faceless figures mummified in newsprint. Inspired by the Indonesian government’s transitional period from the “Orde Baru” (New Order) to the “Orde Reformasi” (Reformation Order) in 1999 and its resulting impact on society, his works struggle with the themes of political oppression, the ironic role of the media, and above all, a strong sense of disappointment in prevalent ideologies, and disenfranchisement of the individual.
Attempting to locate “the ulcer of corruption” – as quoted from the artist himself – in the heavily politicized agenda of contemporary society, Budi explores the concept of a mediated reality through the role of newspapers. Historically, media was supposed to be the “eyes and ears of the people”, with ethical reporting integrity. In his paintings, the vicious irony of an overwhelming and subversive media culture reveals its reductionist effect on subscribers. The newsprint wraps itself around human life, effacing, suffocating and blinding the figures within. Its substance literally carries the weight of our ulcerating social fabric with its content of screaming headlines and tawdry iconism; its transient consumerist philosophy has been forced on to our persons.
The entity of the medium has also been refuted, its magnifying and distorting lens turned inwardly upon itself. The newsprint moves from unimpeachable medium to the object of scrutiny for its role as a dehumanizing and oppressive force – an uncanny parallel to the central theme of how humanity has become the unwilling construct of its own perceptual tools. Many viewers have initially confused the intricate detail and texture of Budi’s paintwork for mixed media.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
- Nggiring sapi neng PWI, 2012, Gedung PWI, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
- Togetherness, Parco Sculpture Park, Delchianti, Italy
- Beyond the Headlines, 2008, iPreciation, Singapore
Selected Group Exhibitions
- Land Before Our Time: A Vernacular in Southeast Asian Art Making, 2015, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore
- Membaca Pager Piring: Mengenang Romo Mangun, 2014, Bentara Budaya, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
- ARTJOG|14 – Legacies of Power, 2014, Taman Budaya, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
- ARTJOG|13 – Maritime Culture, 2013, Taman Budaya, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
- Batang Community Group Exhibition, 2013, Batang, Central Java, Indonesia
- Art Stage Singapore, 2012, Singapore
- Closing the Gap, 2011, MIFA Melbourne, Australia
- Maximum City, 2011, Jakarta Biennale, Jakarta, Indonesia
Images of artworks