Hanafi Muhamad

b. 1960, Purworejo (Central Java), Indonesia

Hanafi Muhamad was born and grown up in Purworejo, a remote little city in central Java. After finishing his study in Indonesia Fine Art High School in Yogyakarta, young Hanafi went to Jakarta and stepped in real-life evenly. He witnessed every moment in the City since then, either good or bad. Famous for his giant-size works, Hanafi has had certain ease about Spain. Started from the year 2000, he began to bring up things he found in Spain into several exhibitions such as Stone Village of Costa Brava and Dive Into, both in Jakarta. Writers and art critics in Indonesia agree that Hanafi is one of the most important artists in Indonesia.
Hanafi gained a reputation for his luminous, abstract paintings which subtly convey the sense of an interior, meditative world. Hanafi’s paintings present another kind of vision of the Indonesian earth. His recent paintings are like poetic, abstract ‘mindscapes’– fascinating intersections of abstract formalism and a kind of sensory realism that is played out on both a conceptual and painterly level. His compositions have a minimalist aesthetic that has been compared to the Japanese Mono-ha tradition. But the artist has also embedded a subtle quality of realism in the spatial relationships between the abstract forms, echoing both the relationships of natural forms in a landscape and the sensation of being physically and emotionally present within that landscape. Or to put it another way, Hanafi’s organic arrangements of space and sensuous form are like sensory maps of the felt experience, within the physical presence of the natural world.
He was a finalist in the Indofood Art Awards 2002 and 2003. He has held solo exhibitions in Canada, Singapore, Spain and in Jakarta at the Gallery Nasional in 2002. He now lives and works in Jakarta. The artist often does multimedia collaborations with national and international choreographs, poets and architects, to create completely new works of art. Hanafi seems to be obsessed with matters of space in his works and how they are exhibited. His paintings generally give the impression of loneliness or silence, but they also can be expressive as if containing a kind of energy that is about to explode. The works have the tendency to be abstract in style, showing the play of colours with broad empty space. His brushstrokes are wide, and his lines can be short and repetitive or long and wavy.
Hanafi’s elegant, muted colour palette is unique: his deftly mixed tones of light brown, gold, blue, grey and white seem infused with the luminosity of natural light. At once transcendent and rooted in the earth, Hanafi’s art seems to emerge intuitively rather than deliberately from a kind of open, meditative space within the heart of existence itself.
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