Indonesian Artist’s “Sambal” Works Exhibited in Austria

Born in Magelang in 1996 to a Japanese mother and Indonesian father, artist Utami Atashi Ishii has been actively working since 2014.

Utami, who is abstract, focuses on his painting with a microscope like in a laboratory. He looked at the fungus with a microscope and then what he saw through the microscope, he painted on canvas.

Utami in a self-portrait at the 2021 MAG Festival. (Photo: Private Doc)

Utami in a self-portrait at the 2021 MAG Festival. (Photo: Private Doc)

“Sambal is usually red in color. But after I looked through the microscope, it turned out that there was a little blue, a little green and black, there were white spots. So, I capture also from the results of the microscope. Then there is my latest work which is two by two meters in size, the result of the representation of the sambal. I took several parts such as texture, color and I blended it on the canvas,” said Utami.

However, in this exhibition, Utami presented his “Sambal” work with technology, which was exhibited at Media Art Global (MAG) in Austria.

Why did he take the theme “Sambal”? Utami, who recently graduated from the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) Yogyakarta, told FLY: “Because the sambal from Sabang to Merauke is in Indonesia and I think it is very interesting to introduce it to the world”.

Utami experimented with sound art.  (Photo: Private Dock)

Utami experimented with sound art. (Photo: Private Dock)

Heritage 300 Types of Sambal

Of the 322 types of chili sauce found in Indonesia, ten of them he displayed in the exhibition.

“From my work, there are glass preparations which contain chili sauce, colo-colo sauce, onion sauce, chili sauce ijo, tomato sambal, eggplant, anchovy sambal, shrimp sambal, raw sambah and matah sambal, “he said.

“I made a concept and contacted several artists who I found interesting and fit the theme. Artist new media art because they move not by painting, but by painting by technology. Me Chat with Utami something related to Indonesian cultural heritage. In the end I chose spices to combine with science and technology. And Utami at that time suggested sambal as a characteristic of Indonesia,” said the exhibition curator, Mona Liem, a graduate of Zurich University of Arts who now lives in Switzerland.

Sound art equipment and chili ingredients.  (Photo: Private Dock)

Sound art equipment and chili ingredients. (Photo: Private Dock)

Then be a work of Utami exhibited with art that produces sound or sound art. The sound of lombok, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, etc. which are the main ingredients of sambal, is produced with electronic equipment. Then he combined the voices with a video on how to make sambal.

Rendang and fried rice

The exhibition was attended by dozens of countries, including Poland, the US, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and China. The artwork, which contains digital technology, attracted the audience of the virtual exhibition which was held in mid-September in Austria.

“So interestingly for our event, we are working with many parties who are still prototypes, who are still experimenting. Nah Our project is sustainable, when the painting is finished, it’s finished. We continue to develop it, maybe in the final stages, later the sound produced can vary.”

Mona Liem.  (Photo: Private Dock)

Mona Liem. (Photo: Private Dock)

According to Mona Liem and Utami, art observers were very impressed and interested in the traditional chili sauce, because previously they only knew about fried rice and rendang. So with the creation of “sambal” they want to know more about Indonesia, especially the food.

A senior painter who also graduated from ISI Yogyakarta, Untung Yuli Prastiawan responded to Utami’s “Sambal” work.

“I think it’s a very interesting work because it’s phenomenal, revealing about culture, technology, art, and tradition into one. Second, the work can be all time, modern,” he said.

In addition to the virtual event which took place last September, the organizer of the exhibition, Ars Electronica Austria will also hold a live exhibition in Jakarta and at the Yogyakarta National Museum next November. [ps/em]

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