Taufik Ermas

b. 1984, Sumatra, Indonesia
Lives and works in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

The dialectics of space and investigations into human perception are two central elements embodied within the current body of work by Indonesian visual artist Taufik Ermas. The thought processes contributing to his artistic practice are heavily influenced by philosophy and psychology, two areas of human knowledge that are closely intertwined.

In 2006, Taufik almost lost his life in the tragic earthquake that shook the city of Yogyakarta, where he lives and works. He was rescued from the rubble in which he was momentarily trapped when the structure he was in collapsed. The traumatic experience of being trapped within treacherously constricted space during this ordeal, not knowing whether he would survive, has since become an important driver in the development of his work.

The experience also marked an important inflection point, something that made Taufik reevaluate his outlook to life, and consequently, his approach to artmaking.

In his Cut Out series of works, human silhouettes that outline the blank three dimensional spaces in his sculptural paintings are symbolic of Taufik’s representation of the constant human quest to seek answers about ourselves, and our place in this world. The emptiness and void in this series of works are reflections of our own feelings of being incomplete, as we struggle with questions about our true purpose.

The aesthetic strength of this series is among the key reasons why he was selected as one of the two installation artists for the 2017 edition of Bakaba, the annual Padang artist showcase held as part of Jogja Art Weeks, during the month long period surrounding ArtJog in Yogyakarta.

As an artist, Taufik continues to experiment and explore new forms his artwork might take. His more recent Contoured/Layered artworks incorporate a different method of augmenting canvases, a process involving sewing, stuffing, and reinforcing that creates a dual structure on either side of the canvas – linear ridges on one, and analogous mirrored indented lines on the other.

Initially created to visually depict and imply psychological scarring, this technique has been expanded to become what the artist describes as “dual surfaced paintings”; the reverse side of the canvas depicting a mirrored analog of the central subject, either outlined or indented. Artworks created using the Contoured/Layered technique express the many paradoxes of everyday life, and the many questions often arising from them.

Collectively, Taufik’s works clearly exemplify his strength as a figurative painter. But more interestingly, he is a skilled painter who has taken painting beyond mere renderings on simple two dimensional planes, the physicality and structure of the painting themselves becoming bearers of aesthetics and ideas the artist expresses.

Biography information from Artemis Art, November 2022

Country: Indonesia
Social Media: @taufikermas