MONYET GILA: EPISODE ONE

SYDNEY. MARCH 11 – APRIL 23 2016

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art presents the first iteration of an ongoing exhibition project by Adri Valery Wens and Shaun Gladwell, curated by Natalie King and Mikala Tai.

Monyet Gila: Episode One – The Episode with the Crazy Monkey investigates the role that narrative plays in contemporary culture. The artists consider their projects as separate works, installed in parallel to allow for moments of intersection as each excavates and reappraises epic narratives.

Indonesian, Sydney-based artist, Adri Valery Wens focuses on cultural stories of Hindu-Javanese origin, specifically the Wayang Orang (Human Puppet) performance based on two foundation epics – the Mahabharata (the story of the great Bharata Dynasty) and the Ramayana (the story of Rama’s Journey).

Wens delves into the complexity and tensions of his cultural background through a series of photographic depictions of himself ‘performing’ characters within these epic narratives. Staged in Jakarta, dressed in elaborate costumes and theatrical makeup, the images translate the philosophical, political, poetic, performance and re-performance content of the epic stories through the genre of self-portraiture.

Australian-born, London-based artist Shaun Gladwell’s video artwork explores the popular Japanese television drama Monkey, based on the Chinese novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en. Considered a cult classic, the program incorporated Taoist and Buddhist Philosophy, which had a great influence on Gladwell. The artist’s work looks to re-cast the role of Tripitaka – a young Buddhist Monk. The actress who originally played the monk, Masako Natsume, died in 1985 and Gladwell’s project acts as homage to Natsume’s portrayal of the character.

The collaboration of Gladwell and Wens illustrates how traditional epics and long loved narratives remain a determining factor in the creation of the contemporary self.

Shaun Gladwell (b. 1972 Sydney) is an Australian-born, London-based artist. He completed Associate Research at Goldsmiths College, London in 2001 and has since undertaken numerous international residencies and commissions. He has exhibited prodigiously in Europe, North and South America, and in the Asia Pacific Region. In 2011, Gladwell had major survey exhibitions at the SCHUNCK* museum in Heerlen, The Netherlands and at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut, USA as part of the Matrix Exhibition Series. His exhibition, Shaun Gladwell: Stereo Sequences, at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne was the first in a series of major commissions by the institution. He also held a solo exhibition, Riding with Death: Redux at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney. His work featured in significant group exhibitions, including: The Power of Doubt, curated by Hou Hanru, Museo Colecciones ICO, Madrid, 2011; Paradise Lost, Istanbul Museum of Art, 2011; Southern Panoramas, 17th International Contemporary Art Festival SESC_Videobrasil, Sao Paolo, Brazil, 2011; and the John Kaldor Family Collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2011. Shaun Gladwell represented Australia at the 53rd Venice Biennale and travelled to Afghanistan as the official Australian War Artist in 2009. A two-part project was exhibited across two sites with Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation featuring a major new commission The Lacrima Chair and UNSW Galleries presenting Collection+: Shaun Gladwell in 2015. He exhibited in the group exhibition Face to Face at the Perth International Art Festival 2016. His work is held in significant public and private collections nationally and internationally, including: Wadsworth Atheneum, USA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; the Progressive Art Collection, USA; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

Adri Valery Wens (b. 1974 Jakarta) is an Indonesian, Sydney-based artist. Wens completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Art and Design UNSW (previously COFA) in 2012. His first solo show was at MOP Projects in 2012, titled Cinta Mati (Crazy Love). He was shortlisted in several Australian Art Prizes, including the Josephine Ulrich and Win Schubert Photography Award 2015 (acquired), Fisher’s Ghost Art Award 2014, Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize 2013 (highly commended), Josephine Ulrich and Win Schubert Photography Award 2012, Fisher’s Ghost Art Prize 2009.