“Images and Avatars” – Daniel Flanagan
setiap orang berburu kesana-kemari mencari obat,
padahal semua obat ada dalam dirinya
setiap orang berlari menghindari penyakit,
padahal semua penyakit ada dalam jiwanya
setiap orang merasa kecil terhadap dunia,
padahal seluruh jagad raya ada dalam pikirannya
Beberapa kali saya temui cerita, baik dari teman maupun lewat film, tentang semacam budaya menggembara anak muda di USA setelah lulus dari sekolah setingkat SMU. waktu mereka lulus merupakan saat yang tepat untuk digunakan menngembara, melihat kehidupan lain yang jauh dari lingkungannya, sebelum masanya datang sebagai siswa tingkat universitas atau memilih untuk bekerja secara professional.
Sepertinya sebuah petualangan yang lebih seruh dan berbeda dengan yang ditemui setiap hari merupakan naluri pada masa transisi dari dunia remaja menuju kehidupan yang lebih dewasa, berusaha memahami apa yang diinginkan diri, berusaha menemukan jati diri dalam dunia yang baru, yang akan ditemui saat menggembara. Namun sepertinya pencarian jati diri tidak mengenal batas masa, terus melaju sejauh udara terhisap kedalam tubuh.
Saya tidak tahu apakah Dani Flanagan (DF), bisa sampai di Yogyakarta dan berdiam selama 10 bulan merupakan perwujudtan dirinya terhadap bentuk pengembaraan dalam mencari jati dirinya, saya baru mengenalnya sekitar satu setengah bulan yang lalu ketika DF menyampaikan keinginannya untuk berpameran di Museum Dan Tanah Liat (MDTL). Namun kalau kita berbicara secara imajinatif, kita dapat merekam perjalanan Df dari ceritanya selama di yogyakarta, maupun pandangannya terhadap kehidupan sosialnya yang tergambar pada karya seninya, yang dipamerkan di MDTL
Karya DF menampilkan figure yang berhubungan atau bersosial dengan manusia lain dan diri sendiri, saling berdialog melalui gerak tubuh. Menampilkan sebagian besar pada karya painting dengan tubuh yang telanjang untuk kemurnian dalam pengelihatannya pada hubungan sosial, seakan ingin menyampaikan sesuatu yang tidak bisa di fahami oleh sosial. Berusaha meletakan keyakinannya dan melihat bagaimana akan berkembang? Yang juga melumat hal buruk dalam kenangan pahit.
Bagaimana DF melihat realitas? Apakah dia mempunyai jalan untuk menyatukan realitasnya dengan imajinasinya yang lebih bersifat keyakinan pribadi? Pada karya pastels dan portraits, DF memvisualkan wajah dengan cara sket dan juga cara yang lebih realis, semua karya pada media portraits dan pastels menggambarkan wajah dengan pandangan yang jauh, tak berfokus. Seakan pikiran dari wajah itu menggembara jauh dari tubuh. Pemikiran yang jauh melayang dari realitas, yang belum bisa di wujudkan dalam realitas, yang sementara hanya tersimpan dalam imajinasi pribadi. Pada karya wajah tersebut tampak ‘kuat’ secara visual mampu menceritakan isi hati DF kepada pemirsa.
Pada karya dengan media wood block print on canvas yang berjudul ”Those with no faith ask that others believe”, dimana seseorang bersentuhan langsung dengan banyak orang di belakangnya, namun orang tersebut seperti merenung dan memandang jauh kedepan, seakan orang-orang yang bersentuhan langsung dengannya merupakan bayangan semata, orang-orang yang tidak akan bisa menerima imajinasinya. Sepertinya dalam bersosial DF lebih banyak berdialog dengan diri sendiri. Orang-orang sekitarnya seakan merupakan bayangan yang mengisi referensi imajinasinya dalam membangun sebuah keutuhan individu. Mengamati, merenungkan, kemudian berdialog dengan otak dan hatinya adalah sebagai perwujudtan individu yang utuh. Bukanlah sebaliknya, yang mana eksplorasi diri untuk bisa di lihat oleh public kemudian dijadikan selayaknya idola bagi orang lain di sekitarnya.
Wajah dan figure manusia yang banyak muncul di karya-karya DF pada pameran ini tampak termenung dan pada gerakan tubuhnya cenderung pasrah. Pada akhirnya DF meninggalkan sebuah pertanyaan tentang bagaimana imajinasinya -yang merupakan rangkuman dari hubungan antar manusia, dan diri sendiri- bisa diterima oleh sosial?
Pencarian jawaban itu merupakan proses pengembaraan DF hingga membawanya sampai pada pameran ini.
– Yoyok Jonidip MDTL, Mei 2009.
Hangar-bingar dunia seni rupa semakin terasa, minimal bisa dirasakan di Yogyakarta yang mendapat sebutan ibukota seni rupa. Sudah beberapa tahun kebelakang booming seni rupa meninggalkan kita, namun pameran seni semakin ramai dan galeri maupun kantong seni baru bermunculan di sini.
Berbagai tehknik dan pengembangan eksplorasi seni mewarnai gempitanya berkesenian Yogyakarta, penggarapan material seni telah melampaui senimannya yang sudah dikenal public sebagai seniman lukis, seniman patung, seniman performance dan sebagainya, eksplorasi dari satu seniman yang menggarap berbagai material seni seperti itu juga meramaikan dunia seni rupa.
MDTL terus eksis dengan pencarian seniman yang selalu bereksperimen dan mempunyai energi besar dalam berkarya. Pencarian seniman yang mempunyai konsep segar hingga berpotensi sebagai seniman yang menciptakan karya dengan tulus dan jujur. Potensi seperti itulah yang bisa kita lihat dari Daniel John Flanagan.
Tarikan garis yang sederhana pada karya Dani menyimpan kedalaman nilai dari imajinasinya, bahasa hati dari Dani bisa dinikmati melalui figure-figur dan wajah yang tertuang pada pameran ini.
Ugo Untoro, 15 Mei 2009.
Images and Avatars
I paint figures as avatars, embodiments and stand-ins, for emotional states, and seek to discover images that resonate with ineffable feeling. I believe the body and its image offer a language of our inner life because they are one and the same; we are our bodies, and it is in our images that the exterior and interior collapse and merge
A language of images is crucial; It is the imagination alone that provides us with a sense or concept of an undivided self, and it is only through negotiating with the imagination are we able to root out false images, and their tangled distortions and incompatibilities that we suffer.
The characters in the work are stark and naked, often appearing silly and playful or crude and bedeviled, as this is a faithful articulation of how it felt making them. Often they find themselves in uneasy positions, accompanied only by shadows. The shadows symbolize for me a paradox of image and body, straightforwardness and mystery, fear and regret, and these are dominant themes throughout the work
D Flanagan, 2009.
I is Another *
The Growing Pains (and Pleasures) of Dan Flanagan
By Farah Wardani
Daniel Flanagan came to Jogja around a year ago for a self-initiated artist-in-residence scheme. He’s 25, just at the start of his career as an artist after taking a study at the NYSS, New York – where he previously lived. Different with countless other foreign artists who had been coming into and out of this city for residency programs that are mostly funded or endorsed by other initiatives, Dan just came without some precisely fixed agenda of what he was going to work on or with here, knowing Indonesia only from references and stories from a relative who has spent a long time in this country.
Residing and setting up a studio for himself in an old house on Jalan Suryodiningratan, Dan came up with dozens of painting, print, drawing and pastel works within the 10 months period of his residency, of which nearly all are shown in this exhibition. Looking at the quantity and the intensity reflected in his works, it seems that Dan has been taking his time quite well in Jogja, balancing an everyday life between being a hermit in his studio and getting along with the mundane, ordinary lives of his surroundings and new friends.
Most of Dan’s works deal with the inner conflicts existing within one’s self, mind and body, which all of us who have or had come to that point of life can relate to. That point where everything hits us in the face and enter the realization that we are no longer the center of our universe – and that we have to, in any way, come out of it, at least for a certain period of time.
We see in his works a plethora of bodies, faces, organs, either alone, coupled or multiplied. They are engaging, contorting, interacting, stripped, disfigured, and deformed through Dan’s loose strokes of paint, charcoal and pastels. Altogether they assemble a juxtaposition of contradictions, between the contentment of solitude and the desires (and also fears) of intimacy, between impulsiveness and inhibitions – reflecting an intensive process that is both instinctive and cerebral at one time.
The way I see it, instinct indeed plays a significant role in Dan’s work. As Dan described to me, his process involves an intense struggle to be honest with himself and his work. As he said, “It is difficult to be honest with what you want and yourself, and often when I make something I don’t know what I want.” He tries to disregard the idea of quality, the good and bad, and for that he has to ‘trick’ himself to totally build a relation with his work, letting the pictures to be what they are. For me, I don’t really see it as ‘trick’, but more as a method to come into terms with both his instinct and logics, which provides him a ground to start creating.
I guess it was also partly instinct that brought him here, an intuition to find the space where you can look from various angles at things outside and inside himself. And it is intriguing to see how his works seem to speak with each other in that case, such as ‘Visage Study’ and ‘Confused Men’, presenting a dialogue between the subjects who see and the objects being seen. And it applies for the audience too, an invitation to see right through him and see our selves as the other, all in our own naked states.
The context of living in Jogja is not essentially cultural, but more spiritual where this town provides him a fresh standpoint, a place of no memory, to be able to overcome his barriers of self, or to be precise, to overcome his own self. It is a process that takes place in the line of the border between pain and pleasure as it can be seen from the visceral energies that explode in his paintings and sketches.
Being here helps him to step outside of his own self and see it from a different reality. It also open his eyes to see the good things his own culture that he has taken for granted all this time, and also the insanities of it. He comes into terms with those things by firstly, embracing ours.
It is a phase of life that is necessary during once or a couple of times in each of our own lives. To come out of your self and see it as another, taking different forms, and they are brought into reality in the two-dimensional spaces in Dan’s case. For Dan, art making gives ways for such manifestation. And he submits himself to the process, along with the torturous and excitement that come with it, as he confesses about being addicted to the obsession to create more and more, in which he often could not cease drawing and painting as the exhibition date is getting closer that he has to find a way to stop in the end.
The process that he has undertaken during his residency here has regained his new consciousness of a life as an artist, which is different, or to be precise, developed further than the academic basics that he was trained during his study in NY. As he said about his views of life, “It is about falling into traps, learning how to get out of it, and proceed to find new traps, but somehow the traps are getting better along the way, even though they are still, in fact, traps”.
What Dan presents here is a showcase of a beginning, a signifier of a new starting point where he’s ready to come out and either confront, or negotiate, with those traps. He has obtained what he wants for now to move on as an artist, and that is his own state of honesty, something to hold on to in order to keep sane in any kind of circumstance and environment, each of which has their own insanities.
Yogyakarta, May 2009
* Taken from the quote: “Je est un autre”, by Arthur Rimbaud, The Seer Letters, letters to Georges Izambard and Paul Demeny, 1871.
Images and Avatars: The Work of Daniel Flanagan
An accumulation of bodies; in pairs, on their own and in large groups characterizes Daniel Flanagan’s figurative works in Images and Avatars at Museum Dan Tanah Liat. The bodies seem to be multiplications of the same figure, suggesting a meditation on, sometimes an indictment of, notions of masculinity and the self. This is most explicit when the artist takes a photographic image of himself, as in “No Title (incestuous self portrait)”, and mounts it onto the canvas surface—his face variously smiling, somber and pained. The painted bodies give the figures an infantile and de-masculinized quality, as well as a feeling of a distinct and unsettling strangeness that reoccurs throughout the work.
Again and again Flanagan performs stylistic feats and formal acrobatics, which in the end feel as self consciously empty as they are thrilling to the eye. In the technical conventions used and obsessive subject matter, Flanagan is pointing to his lack of interest in style and indeed any notion of “quality” in the work at all, but rather in an enthusiastic embrace of “style as an arbitrary and subservient vehicle” for something else. This is seen in the giant wood-block print “those with no faith ask others to believe”, in which writhing masses of figures seem to be embracing their own excess. The artist seems to be accommodating it as well, energetically facilitating the chaos, and it is through a kind of inverted-discipline that it becomes a breathtaking expression of something larger. The viewer is struck and unsettled by the scene, a manic critique that recalls Brueghals “Blind leading the blind”.
At other times the figures become ever more abstract and are more evocative—with the sheer proximity of naked bodies offering a near orgiatistic scene. In Figure Dreamscape I (2009) the canvas is peopled so as to create a tapestry of human forms that mass into the foreground of the image, recallling German Expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and early Pollock. Bodies bump up against one another in a thick crowd of limbs that the canvas can barely contain. There is an interesting disconnect between the abstracted crowd and the more carefully rendered facial features that line the upper portion of the painting, that seem to have been painted completely seperate. The faces in “avatar narrative series” are also poignant if acid presentations of the body. They range from relatively straightforward renditions of the artist’s face and move toward piles of flesh and facial features, where the skin melts into vivid reds, blues and greens. Faint images, where only a a hint of the face is suggested, are found throughout these and other works, washes of color positing a mouth or an eye seemingly almost at random.
What may be for me the most endearing of the works are several small ink drawings like the meekly titled “Brothers”, and “group of confused men”. In them we have the familiar thematic elements, naked men milling around, now rendered in a silly and heartbreaking simplicity. The men are joined together as if in some akward moment of forgetfullness, hopeless, yet full of life. they could be considered to be more cartoons than “figure drawings”, but just as Daniel told me “nobody can tell me Miro was a better artist than Dr. Suess”, such barriers of delinieation have long been devoid of any meaning.
What ends up being communicated through this delimiting of his painting to a single body-image—which he appears to find concurrently repulsive and obessevely attractive—is a sense of uncertainty in the self’s rational coherence. The figures keep multiplying in wildy divergent forms, at times even collapsing into heaps, and point to the struggle of the artist to render himself as a singular individual. One is amazed that Flanagan is able to render a process of splintering uncertainty so attractive.
Owen jonathan Martin, 2009