Indra Wossuw on Arcadia

Form Eden to Arcadia?

“Eden” was a body of work about my idea of paradise in exploring common religious and artistic concepts through the means of landscape painting.
The new body of work called “Arcadia” is a 7-panel painting installation with architectural reference to an arcade. “Et in Arcadia ego” (I too am in Arcadia). These works confront us with our mortality, the mystery of death by juxtaposing the horror of nothingness with the idealised, romanticised landscapes of our imagination as well as of our longing.

From Sylt to Bali – why did you choose island landscapes and how much does exoticism play a role in your Balinese artistic experience?

In my view islands has become the epitome of the unknown and unconscious, a place where you are confronted with your own fears and preconceived ideas of a place. Especially these two islands evoke a lot of imagination and became famous tourist destinations. Questioning our perception of Utopia. I wanted to travel beyond the superficial concepts of theses places which obviously also tackled our idea of the exotic and the other, our idea, that paradise is found in the beauty of exotic landscapes and lives.

How did you implement your concepts artistically?

I travelled to the Terunyan Village on lake Batur, one of the oldest cultural sites in Bali and witnessed their unique funeral rites where bodies are laid underneath a tree called Taru Menyan (tree of fragrant incense). My series of work portrayed Memento Mori imagery and showed how human bodies have become part of nature again. The skulls I depicted are in theses cases natural graves in a natural circle of life but could also be read to depict the horror of human destruction when you think of the Stupa with the skulls of the victims of the Khmer Rouge.
Later I concentrated on mere landscapes that still suggest death being immanent and shaping it through the decomposing body. The presence of smoke in these works plays with the danger of forest fire, its destruction but also with the passage into another realm and religious narrative.

I am very happy that this body of work will be shown in the ARMA art museum in Ubud in Bali in April 2017 and it will be exciting to bring these works back to their place of origin and share them with the Balinese people.

Indra Wussow, 17th July, 2016