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Inspired by the drawing styles of street art and underground comics, Wedhar Riyadi contrasts fantasy and reality in a dark and violent atmosphere. This aspect of his work is informed by the experiences of his generation, who came of age around the time of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the 1998 fall of the Suharto regime, and the country’s transition to democracy.
In bold and stylised reworkings of historical images, Riyadi constructs alternate renderings of the past. His reinterpretations of the middle-class photographic portraits common in the Sukarno-led independence era of the 1950s and 60s — which Riyadi finds in Yogyakarta flea markets — bear sinister marks. While the figures’ anonymity and unassuming poses seem peaceful enough, Riyadi’s addition of grotesque and demonic cartoons in these paintings points to the undercurrents of violence and corruption that have affected Indonesia through its volatile past.
Wedhar Riyadi was born in 1980 in Yogykarta, Indonesia. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Indonesian Institute of Art in 2007.
Riyadi’s wide ranging practice encompasses drawings, murals, comics, stickers, posters, illustrations, and limited-edition toys and clothing, in addition to large-scale oil paintings. In this way, Riyadi represents a generation of Indonesian artists whose works defy the traditional boundaries of fine art and popular culture.