The Social Realism of Agan Harahap

15  April  – 21 May 2017

Solo Exhibition by Agan Harahap  (ID)

Mizuma Gallery is pleased to announce The Social Realism of Agan Harahap, a solo exhibition by one of the generation’s most prominent contemporary artist, Agan Harahap, or often cited as the ‘master photoshopper’.

In this exhibition, Agan presents a series of appropriation of paintings by Indonesian art maestros, such as Hendra Gunawan, S. Sudjojono, Basuki Abdullah, Dullah, and Itji Tarmizi. Mainly from the 1940s to 1960s, these paintings embody the zeitgeist from a time known as the heyday of Social Realism manifesto in Indonesia, and were meant to express the grand narratives of nationalism as well as to represent the social truth of the Indonesian society back then. Agan ‘borrows’ these paintings to present his own version of Social Realism in the current zeitgeist: a period where religion, politics, class struggles, and consumer culture are all contesting in a culture where fake news, hoax, and media wars have become part of society’s everyday consumption – and art, somehow is still able to play a role in this divisive world we live in today.

Often made with montage techniques or digital imaging effects, Agan’s works are a fusion of relevant social commentaries and pop culture-references, composed in a glamorous publicity photo style that creates parodies or surreal recreations of factual moments in history. In recent years, Agan became a viral superstar due to his ‘hobby’ for creating digitally manipulated images that he shares freely online through social media. These images have become widely popular and highly shared memes that take on a range of various subjects: celebrities, religious clerics, politicians, and public figures. All of his subjects are depicted in either impossible, self-deprecating, or ‘Indonesianized’ situations that express a local brand of humor. Though best understood by one with familiarity on the Indonesian culture, Agan’s amusing commentaries have proven to resonate universally as well.

From here, Agan found his position and relevance as an artist playing his role in the digital era. Even more so coming from Indonesia, one of the countries with the highest social media usage globally, along with the growing polarization, political, intellectual and, religious divide, plus a countless span of issues that come as the consequence of democratization of media and information. Digital imaging is no longer just an artistic tool or a professional occupation. It has become a powerful medium of social intervention for Agan, playing around with the public’s opinion with the intention of inviting others to rethink what the truth is, what is real and fiction – and essentially, to always question absolutism.

Artist Talk

Saturday, 15 April 2017, 4 – 6 pm

About the Artist

Agan Harahap (b. 1980, Indonesia) graduated from STDI Design and Art College in Bandung, Indonesia, where he majored in Graphic Design. After which, he moved to Jakarta and photographed for Indonesian-based music magazine, Trax Magazine. He held his first solo exhibition in MES 56, Yogyakarta and has since been participating in various photography exhibitions around Southeast Asia and beyond. Agan’s photographs fuses pop culture icons in surreal situations that mislead the realism of his work and questions our dependence on photos to inform us of reality. The past year alone has seen Agan in both the Shanghai and Singapore Biennale, as well as Bangladesh’s Chobi Mela, the single biggest photography event in Asia.

© 2017 Mizuma Gallery Pte Ltd