Bayu Utomo Radjikin showcases a different form in his upcoming solo exhibition Cintakasih at House of MATAHATI, the female figure. It’s the artist’s first serious attempt at representing the fairer sex and Bayu’s new works that center on a classical Odissi dancer leads audiences across ten charcoal drawings and four paintings that feature the artist’s vibrant signature style.
Whilst Bayu is widely known as one of Malaysia’s leading figurative artists, his artworks have thus far centered on the male figure. Self-portraits and evocations of the Malay warrior fill the artist’s body of work, and until recent times, Bayu has only ever produced a handful of artworks featuring female subjects, including one portrait of his wife.
The concentration on a female classical Indian dancer in Cintakasih thus represents an interesting juncture in the artist’s career.
The core of this series can be traced back to 2008, when Bayu participated in Stirring Odissi. The Sutra Gallery exhibition revolved around the classical Indian dance, and Bayu’s participation not only launched his exploration of the female form, but also formed a milestone in his history with the Sutra Dance Theatre, which began when he designed sets for Ramli Ibrahim’s performances.
The title of the exhibition combines signature elements from Bayu’s practice, as the artist names all his drawings cinta and all his paintings on canvas kasih. And as a solo exhibition, Cintakasih takes on an unorthodox format as it also features two other artists, Kow Leong Kiang and Marvin Chan. Both Kow and Chan are well known for their figurative works, and together with Bayu, are members of The “F” Klub, a group of local artists that are bound by a shared interest in figurative art. Cintakasih’s unique exhibition format is akin to the music scene, where concerts feature a headliner and several guest acts, and Bayu hopes that this will encourage networking and more interaction between artists.
For Cintakasih, Kow and Chan had a pick at the same photographs that Bayu used for his artworks. They may or may not pick identical images, observes Bayu, but the point of interest for audiences will be in the different ways the duo portray their subjects.Kow and Chan each contribute one artwork to Cintakasih, framing the solo exhibition and giving viewers a chance to examine different approaches within the genre of figurative art in Malaysia. Another figurative artist, Anurendra Jegadeva, also takes part in the exhibition, but on a different note – a critical one. He shares his views in an essay for the exhibition catalogue, which also contains full-colour images of all the artworks in the exhibition, as well as a selection of Bayu’s previous Odissi works