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OCT 2012

B E A U T Y = L A W

“The mathematical sciences particularly exhibit order, symmetry and limitation; and these are the greatest forms of the beautiful.” - Aristotle

“Form follows function” is a general principle that always taught in design academy. However in fine art I don’t see any point applying function into form, the artwork will have a direct communication with the viewer thus narrowing the viewer’s number possibility of interpretation, especially to the form of abstract. The more narrow interpretation means the more disturbed the space of harmony of the viewer. Even applying a direct emotion is also a form of disruption. So in fine art, I slightly changed the rule into “Form follows value”, it still has the similar logical value acting as the function. Only in the form of an abstract, the overall composition should be neutral, so it would be fully opened to numbers of interpretation based on subjectivity. In contrary to realism which only speaks a certain or general thing because individuality of the interpreter exists in a little portion, it needs the artist’s role as an authoritarian thru obvious visual clue in his/ her artwork. Abstract is the most democratic art, but in my way the more free it is the more chaotic it can become and from chaos, order will rise thru laws. This essay will review the principles I used in my art making process particularly for “Logical Aesthetic” exhibition. The principles I develop from Bauhaus, De Stijl & Grid System principles. Neo-plasticism, De Stijl has found a way to express the ideal of spiritual harmony and order through the art. Art from the De Stijl movement advocated pure abstraction and universality by concentrating on subject matter. During the De Stijl movement, the artwork being created by artists gave off an anonymous and depersonalized feel as it was felt that the artist’s personality should not be shown on the artwork. The artworks avoid symmetry yet remains visually balance with the used of opposition.

This book is published for the occasion of the exhibition

LOGICAL AESTHETICS by Irfan Hendrian at ViaVia Café - Yogyakarta

In 1918 Wilhem Ostwald published The Colour Primer journal, which brought various debate in Bauhaus. His theory basically assigned to shade gray as a key coordinate of “color space” as an addition to Paul Klee’s color theory which stressed the use of complementary pairs ( red-green, blue-orange, yellow-violet) and colors intimately relates to form. Those color theory was rather positively received by Piet Mondrian and his colleagues in the De Stijl in the early 20’s.

4 - 30 October 2011 Essay: Irfan Hendrian & Roy Voragen Design & Photography: Irfan Hendrian Edition: 300 Copies

ViaVia Travelers & Café

Irfan Hendrian

Jl. Prawirotaman 30.

Art & Design Studio

Yogyakarta - Indonesia

tel: +62 27 4372874

To achieve the harmonious balance in the asymmetrical composition, color in the space of form needs to be ruled by laws. Just like the universe, everything is controlled by the same law: physic. We perceive composition parallel to our understanding of physic, elements in the composition need to be in balanced so these elements could support themselves to resist the gravity. In art, physic doesn’t rule, it is substituted by value, our eyes need to be tricked to believe that the value is still in the realm of physic. Therefore the

viewers are still in their comfort zone and the artwork will give them harmony. Harmony would be achieved with a simple measurement using grid system that acts as mathematical ruler. By using grid system we can calculate the algorithm of structural rhythm and it is the simpler way to balance all of the elements including the white space proportionally. The grid system is also a tool to arrange the elements into a hierarchy order. The grid system could also assist us to arrange the elements into a hierarchy order. Hierarchy and rhythm will act as a guide to a certain emotion, which not just shown only by value. With the rhythm, proportion and structure in the composition, our perception becomes wider, not just limited to the form value, but also the kinetic, the gravitational pull between the elements themselves therefore balancing themselves. How to measure balance with elements’ weight or elements’ value in asymmetrical composition, taken from Paul Klee Pedagogical Sketchbook

The visual content in my artworks only consist of the basic geometric elements: square, rectangle, triangle and circle. The value of those geometric elements is already strong enough without putting any non-formal properties such as stimulus background, content, time settings, event settings, including ownership of an artwork. Plato argued that “eidos” (or shape) of a thing included our perceptions of the thing, as well as those sensory aspects of a thing which the human mind can take in. With the rhythm, proportion and structure in the composition, our perception becomes wider, not just limited to the form value, but also the kinetic, the gravitational pull between the elements themselves therefore balancing themselves. These are a fundamental optical and structural order that had been obscured by centuries of literary allegorism.

calculation to measure balance in the composition. Placing the harmony as the center of main objective, not to challenge the viewers but to provide them the most logical aesthetic that gives them pleasure to the eyes. The Boolean Value and the Boolean Cube is taken influence from a logical mathematic function, Boolean, which explore a number of possibility that can be derived from one point. It doesn’t leave a room for any irrational or illogical possibility such as an unknown factor or any spiritual factor. It is another of my experimentation in mathematics, as a transitional process from my previous artworks on humanism and finding the logic in my artworks. Dividing Aesthetic & Dividing Rigidity are the result of a simple way of breaking the sterile rigidity of symmetry into more dynamic, less predictable beauty associated with asymmetry. Pure symmetry is somehow too harsh, too rigid and unlifelike, was suggested by Immanuel Kant, who commented on how, “All stiff regularity (such as borders on mathematical regularity) is inherently repugnant to taste, in that the contemplation on of it affords us no lasting entertainment … and we get heartily tired of it” Symmetrical composition in my own opinion is too inhumane, too organized and too perfect to be true. It gives a focused transcendental space, affecting your perception into one direction, that is why many religion uses symmetry in their art. However a balanced asymmetrical composition can provide us the same transcendental space, but it is more dynamic and doesn’t act as an authoritarian. Because it has a difference and variation in its composition, it respects individuality and therefore it’s a humanist composition. Asymmetry is the rhythmic expression of functional design. In addition to being more logical, asymmetry has advantage that its complete appearance is far more optically effective than symmetry. The effect of establishing laws doesn’t always end up for conservation, it often creates a new way of thinking, a new way to trick the law and a new outcome. Restricting aesthetic is not a method to limit the freedom of the artist, but it gives artist a possibility to outsmart the system. Beauty can arise from law. Essay by Irfan Hendrian

Bibliography Klee, Paul. Pedagogical Sketchbook. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., 1960. Print.

In Logical Aesthetic Publicity leaflet for DIE NEUE TYPOGRAPHIE by Jan Tschichold, series, Representation published on 1928, the typesetting layout was following grid system in of Singularity, Isolation a asymmetrical balance, between of Probability and the elements and the white space. Hierarchy follows with the usage Discovery of Irrational of grid system as the answer of its function: clear communication. Balance, I applied these laws implying it into my educational background in design and my father’s influence as a Mathematic Lecturer. It is a combination between typesetting with the practice of grid system and geometry mathematic to find a right

Elam, Kimberly. Grid Systems: Principles of Organizing Type. Princeton Architectural Press, 2004. Print. Ball, Philip, and Mario Ruben. Color Theory in Science and Art: Ostwald and the Bauhaus. 2004. Print. Luong, Jessica. De Stijl. 2004. eBook. L. C. Jaffe, Hans. De Stijl. 1st. H. N. Abrams, 1971. Print. Hardiman, Introduction Essay Of Texture | Structure, a solo exhibition by Anggar Prasetyo. 2011. Print. I. C., McManus. “Symmetry and asymmetry in aesthetics and the arts.” European Review. 13.2 (2005): Print. Tschichold , Jan. The New Typography. 1st English Translation. London: University of California Press, 1995. Print.

VIA AESTHETICA by Roy Voragen The queer resemblance between a philosophical investigation (perhaps especially in mathematics) and an aesthetic one. – Ludwig Wittgenstein (Culture and Value) I agree that two and two make four is an excellent thing; but to give everything its due, two and two makes five is also a very fine thing. – Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Notes from Underground)

The composer Schubert was asked what a particular piece of his means. He replied: “Let me play it again for you.” I don’t know if this anecdote is true or not. And if it isn’t, it should be. His answer was as elegant as insightful; an insightfulness we seem to have forgotten as we are preoccupied with reading. We are busy reading reflexive texts: wall texts, artist statements, curatorial essays in catalogs and reviews. We have forgotten the use of our own senses. And the sensual. Beauty, too. Where would we be without taboos? However, it is rather unfortunate that beauty has become a taboo within the world of contemporary art – post-Kant, postDuchamp. Beauty – not divine bliss, not the Kantian sublime, not one or another self-referential theory of art or aesthetics with a capital ‘A’ – can art really be experienced without a sense of beauty? No, of course not. And such experience of the tactile is primarily physical – an artwork can kick one in the gut, can lift one up and etcetera. Today, one way to be radical as an artist is to embrace tactility, and beauty too. Today, beauty is dangerous. It’s dangerous because it runs counter the consensus: what generally is considered contemporary in visual art. Beauty is considered cheap, sentimental. Beauty is kitsch. Contemporary art, on the other hand, has to mean something and this meaning is to be discursive. As if the sensuous is without meaning. And in our present day – with a tongue twister called contemporaneity – beauty is subversive! We have come to be prejudiced against beauty in contemporary art. Beauty as taboo – however, of course, contemporary art can be beautiful. It often is. But because the continuous talk of discourse and the new – the shock of the new while the new will grow old over night – we might not know it if it hit us. Far too often, though, art nowadays is clumsy and deskilled. I wonder if there is causality between this and what Boris Groys calls the ontological collapse between, on the one hand, making art in a studio and, on the other hand, showing art in an exhibition space: the art installation. Poetic beauty lies in a delicate balance between knowing what to express and having the skills to show it. Focusing only on the first part of the equation is to trivialize art. Great art, writes Jeanette Winterson, objects to become familiar. Ideas aren’t enough (this is even true for conceptual artists like Sol LeWitt). And jumping from one medium to another doesn’t help either (the cross- or multidisciplinary approach is en vogue: with unsteady hand video recorded performance

turned into an installation, sometimes site-specific and/ or participatory) – top heavy on ideas and feather light on visualization. What happened to ‘show, don’t tell’? “What a visual work has to ‘say’, if anything, cannot be reduced to any other ‘saying’,” claims artist Daniel Buren. A great – beautiful – artwork transcends the possibilities of propositional language, if it can be turned into such language, it is simply not a great work of art. A great work of art not so much allows for multiple interpretations (including contradicting ones) but postpones intellectual interpretation. To achieve this, an artist has to master the medium in all its facets and then, in turn, push the limits of the medium. And it requires focus to shape and form the medium across its confines. Bandung-based artist and graphic designer Irfan Hendrian shows his latest artworks at Via Via in southern Yogyakarta. He glues and presses layers of paper sheets of different colors together. He cuts in these sheets of paper. He punctures these sheets of paper. This is laborious work, which requires focus and a steady hand to attain the precision he aims for. This requires spending a lot of time in his studio in northern, up-hill Bandung. Cutting and puncturing the layers of paper are deliberatively developed into patterns and permutations. These patterns and permutations allow the paper to gain a rhythmic quality. As an artist as well as a designer, Irfan Hendrian’s work shows affinity with art movements de Stijl and Bauhaus. The works of Piet Mondrian, Maurits Cornelis Escher and others also inspire his work. To bring it closer to home and our time, he sees Yogyakarta-based artist Anggara Tua Sitompul as a kindred spirit. A commitment to patterned forms connects Irfan Hendrian’s work with these artists and their movements. However, unlike painters, Irfan Hendrian cannot correct or hide mistakes – one wrong cut or puncture can disfigure his work for good. Thus, Irfan Hendrian doesn’t have the luxury Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) had. Piet Mondrian is often characterized as a mathematician-like painter, but mathematics is at best a figure of speech here. This can be seen in his last and unfinished work: Victory Boogie Woogie (1942-1944), in which he was attempting to find the ‘right’ – jazzy – rhythm by slowly altering the composition of this lozenge-shaped painting; he didn’t have a formula to his disposal, just his experience and skill. On the other hand, when Irfan Hendrian composes one counterpoint too many in his work it can start too feel lopsided and he has to start from scratch. However, dear Via Via patrons, don’t spend too much time perusing these two essays. Look at Irfan Hendrian’s artworks. Drink your delicious coffee. Look again. And again – more than a glance in passing please. What do you see? What do you sense here?

Roy Voragen is a Bandung-based art writer and founder of Roma Arts, he can be contacted at

















#1 Dividing Aesthetics Carving on acid free papers 50 cm diameter x 2 cm 2012

#5 Discovery of Irrational Balance Carving on acid free papers 40 cm diameter x 2 cm 2012


#2 Boolean Cube Carving on acid free papers & vinyl sticker 50 cm diameter x 3 cm 2012

#6 - #10 Logical Aesthetics Carving on acid free papers 44x35 cm x 2 cm 2012

#3 Isolation of Probability Carving on acid free papers 40 cm diameter x 2 cm 2012

#11 Boolean Values Carving on acid free papers & Letraset 45x70 cm (2 panels) x 1 cm 2011

#4 Representation of Singularity Carving on acid free papers 40 cm diameter x 2 cm 2012

#12 - #14 Dividing Rigidity Carving on acid free papers, paint & wood 25 cm x variable height 2012

Born: Ohio, USA,1987-07-27 Website: Email: EDUCATIONS LASALLE College of Arts, Singapore Visual Communication Design Year 2 06-07 Wanganui School of Design, New Zealand Bachelor of Graphic Design with Distinction 07-08 SOLO EXHIBITIONS Secular World, Asbestos Artspace, Bandung, Indonesia, 11 GROUP EXHIBITIONS S14, Bandung, 12 Main Hall Jakarta Art District, Jakarta, 12 Refleksi 11 Tahun Rumahproses, Rumahproses, Bandung, 12 Jakarta Bienalle 14 with Rumahproses, Galeri Cipta 2, TIM, Jakarta, 11 Distraksi, Galeri Titik Oranje, Bandung, 11 ART JOG 2011 / Jogjakarta Art Fair 2011, Indonesia, 11 Ini Perang (Residency), Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia (STSI), Bandung, Indonesia, 11 Pivot Magazine Exhibition, Wanganui, New Zealand, 08 Wanganui School of Design Gallery, Wanganui, New Zealand, 08 LASALLE College of Arts, Singapore, 07

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Thanks to | Family, Ranti Puji Agusti, ViaVia Cafe & Crew, Rennie Emonk Semanismadu, Rudi Abdalah, AT Sitompul, Rumahproses - Rudi St Darma, Rudayat Roy, Yudi Triadi, Donni Arifianto, Moelyana, Erwin BH, RangerFor & Crew, Roma Arts - Roy Voragen & Mei Suling, S14 - Herra Pahlasari, Amunidin TH Siregar & Layka, Galeri Hidayat - Ibu Lina & Pa Budi, Asbestos Artspace - Mimi Fadmi & W. Christiawan, Laughonthefloor. com - Nathania Gabriele,

S.E. Dewantoro, Kerensa

Dewantoro, Tante Besti Rahulasmoro, Tante Risca Nogalesa Pratiwi, Sri Setyawati Mulyani, Bambang Sugiharto, Drajad Wibowo, Louis, Perry, teman2 SR STSI, Sing Sing, Commonroom, Platform3, Mufti Amenk Priyanka, M. Akbar, Idhar Resmadi, Model - Elizabeth Marcellina, Fauziah Safarina Burhanudin, Aditio Lukito, Yossy Satuday Guy, Anna Bule, Zico, Wibi, Aliansyah, Bottlesmoker - Nobi, Angkuy, Agam & Botak, Teman Sebangku - Doly Harahap & Sarita, Ginette Chittick, Andres Salinas, Rick Hargreaves, Jo Giddens, Debbie Hahn, Radhi Khalid, Ummi Junid, Mike Chu, Luke Fan, Tan Wei Ming, Yulius Yls, Nico Yng, Theresia Irma, Dian Handayani, Irene Kencana, Budi Isdianto, Deden Imanudin, Yeyet Dewi Koryeti, Deden Sambas, Ferial Afiff, Heksa Ramdono, . Thank you for your support and contribution in my process.

supported by:

Catalog Logical Aesthetics - solo exhibition Irfan Hendrian at Via Via, Yogya  

Irfan Hendrian's solo exhibition catalog includes my essay.

Catalog Logical Aesthetics - solo exhibition Irfan Hendrian at Via Via, Yogya  

Irfan Hendrian's solo exhibition catalog includes my essay.