Muhamad Irfan is known for his large-scale depictions of man-made metal structures and modes of transportation like locomotives, planes, ships, bridges and buildings – symbols of technological progress and technology. He explores the emotions associated with departure, waiting, arrival and displacement. The metalwork is depicted as rusty, signifying the passing of time.
In his latest body of work, Irfan has turned his attention to the artistic accomplishments of antiquity, depicting statues from the ancient Greco-Roman world. The sculptures mostly represent figures taken from Greek mythology like Apollo, Artemis and Poseidon.
In some works, he ventures a step further through the history of art by painting iconic works of old masters, for example the famous ‘Mona Lisa’, which has already been a reference for modern artists like Rene Magritte, Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dali, an indication to his penchant for surrealism.
To highlight the transience of materials, Irfan depicts faithfully the aging of the ancient sculptures throughout the millennia together with their antiquated looks. Stone - and metal in his previous works - were materials that were considered strong, long-lasting and enduring when used for their respective purposes. However, both have succumbed to the effect of time over the years. Rust marks pervade throughout his painterly depictions of metalwork and stone sculptures show signs of erosion – with many statues surviving as torsos or fragments only. The once powerful and fascinating creations of humans have been subjected to all kinds of processes of degradation – climate, corrosion, destruction by humans, wars and natural disasters.
Despite these, art has its own power to endure, to struggle against the time and oblivion – through metamorphosis, as the French novelist and art theorist André Malraux once explained. It is the re-actualization of an art style that exposes the sense of time, the temporality of art. While the artworks can still be celebrated, the meanings once given to them are gone and replaced with other perspectives in line with changing perceptions and needs. To illustrate this, Irfan juxtaposes his classical figures with contemporary elements like sinuous lines from abstract expressionism or repetitive dots and geometric shapes in bright pop colors thereby creating a conversation between the two distinct art periods and simultaneously contrasting and reconciliating one with the other. The vibrant overlay of shapes creates a new contextual dimension for the ancient figures while the subtle and elegant monochrome palette relates perfectly to the photographic reproductions of the sculptures in old art books referenced by the artist.
Irfan’s new paintings are a journey through the history of art, but on a deeper level, he sets up a dialectic within his work between his continuing theme on travel and departure, strength and fragility of materials and the paradigm shift resulting from the perception of art at different time in history.
M Irfan was born in 1972 in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, Indonesia. He studied metal craft at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI), in Yogyakarta, Indonesia where he currently lives and works. Irfan was one of the founding member of the Jendela Art Group, known for their experimental work. He experimented with different styles including surrealism, optical art, modern realism and photorealism. Irfan has exhibited extensively locally including at the National Gallery of Indonesia (Jakarta) and internationally in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Korea, United Kingdom, France and the United States.
M Irfan 1972年生於印尼蘇門答臘的武吉丁宜，於印尼藝術學院（ISI）學習金屬工藝，現居及工作於印尼日惹。Irfan是Jendela Art Group的創始成員之一，以其實驗性作品聞名。他曾嘗試多種風格包括超現實主義、光學藝術、現代寫實主義及照片寫實主義。Irfan多次參加國內外的展覽，包括印尼國家美術館（雅加達）、新加坡、香港、中國、台灣、韓國、英國、法國和美國。