Maryanto’s work compresses historical images of landscape into his large charcoal wall drawings. He depicts a landscape in transformation. The scene expresses the dynamics of how physical space is structured by social and political practice, and also how it becomes a space of perception and of seeing how places connect to history, ideology and identity. As official policy changes with ideology, so does the landscape. In Indonesia, the land has passed through epochs of colonial extraction, tobacco plantations, the industrial era, the agrarian revolution, government policies promoting rice growing across the country, international corporate mining and palm oil exploitation and (once again) mineral extraction, not to mention the reformation era in 1998, along with racism and religion, all of which have their effect on the land. The sublime merges with the profitable.
The colonial and neocolonial desire for resources creates tension and conflict between economics and the daily life of the people. The exploitation of Indonesia has been occurring for centuries, and Maryanto takes up the defence of the Indonesian landscape. He places humans back into the wider ecosystem even if their own sense of exceptionality allows them to imagine they are not a part of it.
Riksa Afiaty & Charles Esche
Maryanto’s (born 1977, lives and works in Yogyakarta) artworks serve as a form of storytelling, often giving the strong impression of a theatrical stage. The work uses historical research, myths and stories, combining them with the artist’s own artistic imagination to construct forms and images. The results are dramatic and romantic black and white installations made of paintings, etchings and huge charcoal drawings that construct an environment. He has been working for some years on the complex subject of natural resources, their exploitation and effects on a country and its politics. To achieve this, he draws on daily observations of life in Indonesia, together with his formal experience in the arts at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and his subsequent residencies in the Netherlands at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, as well as the Escuela de Orient program at Casa Asia Barcelona, Spain. He compares and explores the history of colonialism in different countries and is interested in understanding its role in the allocation of resources. Maryanto recently participated in the Yogyakarta Biennial (2015), Jakarta Biennial (2015), Power and Other Things / Europalia, Bozar (2017), ACC-Rijksakademie (2018).