What if  |  Iskandar fauzy

3 - 23 Nov 2016

Iskandar Fauzy is a visual wanderer, a time traveler collecting images and iconography from the broad sweep of the last century. His paintings conflate time and space and sometimes throw together incongruous couplings. In his first Hong Kong solo exhibition, titled “What IF”, the Indonesian artist asks us to take a journey with him and imagine how it would be if these meetings were made real.

Under the superrealist sheen of Fauzy’s sleekly rendered acrylic paintings are small signs of disquiet. He plays with cultural icons like Indonesian wayang puppets, creating a scene and setting his characters up, then pitting them against each other, or pushing them together in collusion. Besides celebrities, the artist paints himself too, as well as characters from films—sometimes appearing alongside versions of themselves. Adoration for artworld geniuses or for personifications of the spirit of rock-and-roll in other works become symbols, markers of shallow-buried social commentary, or political messages, and consistently Fauzy returns to his own self-image.

When Fauzy’s works comment on his surroundings, he frequently sets his sights on artistic compromise, questioning the authenticity of his fellow artists and the competitiveness within his art community. In “Fake Ideology” (2014) actor Heath Ledger appears in character as his boundary blurring Joker from the movie The Dark Knight, brandishing a five dollar bill with a curve of words that reads ‘IN ART WE TRUST’. The character, and Ledger himself—who died the same year as the film’s release—can both be read as façades or fakes. But his work also critiques wider societal trends, like the encroachment of technology into all our lives. Johnny Depp and Marilyn Monroe, icons of different cinematic ages, appear often in Fauzy's works, sometimes separately, or together as in Virtual Lover (2015). And although the artist reinstates some of Marilyn Monroe’s sex-symbol allure, she cannot divert Depp’s attentions from his always-on-hand iPhone.

Also a concern to Fauzy is the political climate in his native Indonesia; fraught with factions, where tensions arise around politics and religion. In Between Two Angry Brothers (2016), Al Pacino plays all three roles—two Michaels from the Godfather’s infamous cinematic crime family, the Corleones, and undercover cop Frank Serpico. They share space at a bar. In front of them, ominously, sits a pistol, and beside that - a bottle of Jack Daniels. As each drinks from a different glass, Pacino becomes the personification of Indonesia’s post-election political schism.

Inevitably, Fauzy’s focus returns to the deeply personal. In this reflective mode, his self-image enters his artworks. He pictures himself part ape, softly animalistic, staring out placidly in Inside of me (2010). He also uses icons to provoke within himself important ideas. In Show me the greatness (2016) two Mohammed Ali’s appear in the corner of a ring. They eye each other, two sides of the same person, except one here is played by Will Smith (his image taken from the 2001 biopic, Ali). The work hints at self-doubt, and the struggle to succeed—in that moment Ali sees what he will become, his life reenacted for posterity by a celebrated actor. Fauzy’s Keith Richards (2016) is less troubled; a straight-up tribute to the achievement of longevity in any industry. Fauzy commends and aspires to the guitarist’s youthful wonder at the world. And Pablo Picasso, appears often too, in works like Tempting Picasso (2016), both as an iconic apparition with the same youthful spirit as Richards’, and, conversely, as an intense figure who committed too much to his art (for Fauzy’s liking) and neglected the rest of his life.

So, this is the artist’s “What IF”, an inquiry into what might be. The ‘IF’ stands for the initial letters in his name, Iskandar Fauzy, too. Then it becomes a rhetorical question—the artist pushing himself to explore what he wants, what he believes in, and ultimately who he is. 

《What IF》 Iskandar Fauzy是一個視覺流浪者,穿梭於時空之間去收集上世紀被廣泛使用的圖像及象徵。他的作品融合了時間和空間,並將兩者以不協調的手法結合。在他於香港的首個個展《What IF》,這來自印尼的藝術家邀請觀眾與他一起於想像中體驗這些模擬現實。

在寫實風格的作品平滑的表面下,Fauzy的作品透露著藝術家的不安情緒。他透過玩弄文化象徵如印尼木偶等,創造一個場景並設置當中角色,然後讓它們互相抗衡,或串連在一起。除了繪畫名人,畫家也有繪畫自己和電影人物-有時會同時出現在自己的不同版本中。Fauzy對藝術界天才及搖滾精神的崇拜,讓他的作品成為符號象徵、 淺薄社會評論的標誌、政治訊息及經常反映著自身的自我形象。

當Fauzy的作品對四周環境作出評論時,他經常把目光投放在藝術上的妥協、對真實性的質疑及藝術家圈子內的互相競爭等議題。在《Fake Ideology》(2014年),於《黑暗騎士》中飾演小丑的希斯·萊傑手上揮舞著五美元鈔票,抬頭更寫著「我們信仰藝術」。小丑的角色和萊傑本人-於電影發行的同年逝世-都可以被解讀為表面或虛假的意思。但藝術家的作品同時在批評更廣泛的社會趨勢,如科技對生活的入侵等。強尼·戴普和瑪麗蓮·夢露都是來自截然不同的電影時代象徵,卻經常分開或同時出現於Fauzy的作品裏。在《Virtual Lover》(2015年),雖然藝術家繪畫了瑪麗蓮·夢露作為性象徵的魅力,卻無法讓戴普的眼睛從智能手機中移開。

此外,Fauzy也在關注著印尼的政治氣候;在政治與宗教之間,充滿了派系鬥爭的緊張局勢。在《In Between Two Angry Brothers》(2016年),艾爾·帕西諾同時飾演三個角色-《教父》裏臭名昭著的黑手黨柯里昂家族中的兩個邁克爾,和臥底警察弗蘭克·塞爾皮科。他們於酒吧共享空間。在他們面前,放著一把手槍和一瓶傑克·丹尼爾斯,而他們從各自不同的玻璃杯中飲料,讓帕西諾成為了印尼選舉後政治分裂的擬人化。 無可避免地,Fauzy的焦點不斷回到自身。在這反思模式中,他的自我形象投影於作品上,暗示著內省及自我審視。在《Inside of me》(2010年)中,他幻想自己部分成為猿猴的樣子,瞪著前方。而且,他利用了圖標表達自己內心的重要想法。在《Show me the greatness》(2016年),兩個穆罕默德·阿里同時出現在擂台的角落。他們的眼神互相接觸,表示著一個人的雙面,除了其中一人是由威爾·史密斯飾演(他的形象取自2001年的傳記《阿里》)。作品暗示著自我懷疑及對於成功的掙扎-在那一刻,阿里看到他將會成為甚麼,及他的生命將會被一名著名演員重新演繹。Fauzy的《Keith Richards》(2016年)相對較為輕鬆;這是一個對任何行業的延續性的直接致敬。Fauzy讚揚及仰慕著這位結他手在世界上保持年輕的奇蹟。相同地,畢加索於畫中也經常出現,如《Tempting Picasso》(2016年),他和理克一樣,充滿著標誌性和年輕的精神象徵,卻多了一份對藝術的過分激情(也因此受到Fauzy的喜愛),而忽視了他的餘生。

因此,這就是藝術家作為各種可能性的《What IF》。「IF」 代表著Iskandar Fauzy的首字母,然後轉化為一個修辭問題-藝術家推動自己探索自身的慾望、信仰及存在意識。