Masquerade of Life is a solo exhibition by Indonesian artist Gatot Pujiarto examining the everyday comedy of being someone you did not want to be.
Scratched, stained, and collaged, Gatot Pujiarto’s men wear masks with open-mouthed laughs. In their attempts to meet the expectations of today’s society, they have put on false fronts that are in fact very different from their actual personalities. It is through his technique that Pujiarto reveals his critique of this world: broken, real and emotionally rich with passion. Real men are soft, malleable and much more diverse than the masks they hide behind. There is a difference between existing and living.
In Pujiarto’s seven-metre-long Allergic to Alcohol (Alergi Alkohol), a man puts on a mask of careless degeneration, drinking in order to fit in with the crowd. However, he is actually allergic to alcohol and does not like its effects. The consequence is personal and does not affect the people he is trying to please. This is a situation that many people are experiencing today: they look back and realise that like the man in Edvard Munch’s The Scream, they are living in a nightmare, undergoing a personal crisis, as also depicted by Pujiarto’s Krisis Karakter. They have not managed to become who they wanted to be. While the artist’s earlier works depict abnormality, the weird and the tragic, this new body of work delves more intriguingly into his personal stance towards life. In Blinded by Faith (Jadzab), different bits of magazine assemble into a collage to form the principal figure, who is no ordinary or stable man. In assimilating his environment, the man becomes assimilated into the environment. He has been cut up by the scissors that remain hovering over his head and is broken and confused. In this work, Pujiarto comments on the double bind of faith: in loving and believing in God, there is a need to abandon some form of reason. In reflecting upon life, the religious are forced to take leaps of faith that run counter to logic, which he believes is a signifier for humanity. Blind faith in the unknown results in a fractured identity, lost somewhere between the rational and irrational.
- Gatot Pujiarto, Allergic to Alcohol (Alergi Alkohol), 2015. Courtesy Pearl Lam Galleries and the artist.