Ruruntuk is a term in Sundanese language that refers to a condition or state of an object that used to have a function but now only remains or malfunctioned. Generally, we often refer it as “artifact”. In this solo exhibition, Arya wants to show some “artifacts” from his hometown of Jelekong. Ruruntuk or artifacts that Arya interprets in his solo exhibition at Redbase are not only bound in the form of objects but in the form of bits and pieces of behavior by the painters at Jelekong. Jelekong itself is famous as a painter’s village which is located approximately 15 km from the city of Bandung. This village began to recognize the tradition of painting since the 70s and continues to develop into a center for producing paintings until now. Currently there are approximately 700 painters in Jelekong who are still actively earning a living through painting. Uniquely, Jelekong itself developed without being influenced by the mainstream of contemporary art even form the nearest city Bandung that well known with the contemporary scene in Indonesia. The painters in Jelekong create their own painting techniques which they find from their everyday things. Apart from that, they also create terms related to painting activities which are only used in the Jelekong area. It is this unique thing that makes Arya want to keep his identity as a painter from Jelekong in his solo exhibition this time.
Arya was born and grew up in Jelekong. Since he was young, he has seen painting activities through his family and the community around him. As he grew up, Arya began to become a self-taught painter just like the most of the peoples at Jelekong. While working as a painter, Arya deeply observed his sourrounding, he noticed the many unhealthy business practices in painting at Jelekong. Arya also questioned something about “what is beyond Jelekong?” that led him to become acquainted with contemporary art. Through his many journeys as a self-taught painter in the field of contemporary art in Bandung, he began to see how his current position in two different fields as an advantage that he can show in his solo exhibition.
The works he displays in this exhibition are his efforts to stay in between the two world and try to take the strengths of both to produce new works that combine Arya’s observations on bits and pieces of the Jelekong painter’s behavior and his understanding of how mediums can be processed, represents and expanded differently that he finds in contemporary art practice. If we look at his work that use a specific type of plastic pipes as a medium, he took it from the habit of Jelekong painters using the plastic pipes as a container for sending rolled paintings to customers.
In another of his works, we can see how Arya use a used cloth that inspire on how Jelekong painter used it as a rag and also a binder for the paintings to be taken to “tengkulak” or middlemen to be sold. The day when a painter binds their paintings with the rug and carry it in his head and walk to the middlemen’s house with a very excited face because it is a payday is an important memory for Arya as a Jelekong painter. One of the techniques that Arya uses is the printing technique, which he understands as a Jelekong painter that use a print of an image that embedded on their mind to replicate the painting from generation to generation. In this Ruruntuk exhibition, for me personally who have followed Arya’s work process and seen Jelekong up close, what he is trying to present is an interesting phenomenon that is rarely shown in contemporary art exhibitions in Indonesia or internationally, which have a lot of reference to western painting traditions. Arya himself is someone who is brave enough to bring Jelekong, which is an anomaly in the field of painting that still exists today, into the world of contemporary art in his own way. For me, Jelekong painting deserves to be seen and reckoned through the efforts of artists from Jelekong like Arya. Today, contemporary art is very open for new offers that came from a unique local point of view. Arya’s efforts in combining his experience as a painter from Jelekong and the field of contemporary painting deserves to be seen and discussed so that it can enrich the discourse on contemporary Indonesian and international art, especially painting. Hopefully in this exhibition together we can interpret, enjoy and celebrate how the everyday aesthetic that Arya brought from Jelekong is juxtaposed with a contemporary art approach.