Lucas Silawanebessy | The Drifter
Lucas Silawanebessy, The Drifter 2018, silkscreen on paper 24 x 30 cm
New paintings and works on paper
For those who followed the developments in the work of Lucas Silawanebessy (1949, Balikpapan), it might seem obvious that he sees his work as part of contemporary Western painting, with side tracks to drawing, graphic design and three-dimensional work. Yet this is not entirely obvious nor is it the whole story.
Taking a look at his background, Silawanebessy was born in Borneo to a Moluccan family and forced to move to the Netherlands at the age of two. In the Netherlands, he was displaced and adrift and changed residence several times. Eventually he stayed for a longer period of time in Lunetten/Kamp Vught.
In the mid seventies of the previous century Silawanebessy completed his education at the Tilburg School of Art. Silawanebessy found his way into visual art at a time when socially engaged and conceptual art was very en vogue. Taking his background into account, Silawanebessy could have easily launched a career in socially engaged art. Becoming an artist who was known for the story of his diaspora, his family, or the story of the places where he grew up and the deprivations he lived through as a member of a minority. Often these stories are being told through archival material that are developed into documentary works of art. Despite the fact that this personal related ‘engaged art’ was common practice back then, Silawanebessy was not greatly influenced by this, because he sought for an even more personal approach in his practice.
Looking back, it is clear that Silawanebessy had a need for transforming the ‘stripped-down’ painting and sculpture style of the 1960s and 1970s into his a more personable story. During his art school years – the era of the minimal and the conceptual art – he felt the need to evoke and fill the bare elementary forms with new life that was made up of ‘flesh and blood’.
With respect to this narrative, the landscapes and stories of his place of birth indeed play a major role. They are embedded in the personal visual language he developed with it’s colourized identity, including the recognizable Silawanebessy-blue. This personal visual language with its own forms and contrasts was partly conceived during his travels to USA, Japan and South-East Asia.
The various constellations and celestial bodies – guides – that are important for travelers to determine their position on the globe, can also be recognized in Silawanebessy’s work. In his choice of subject, one finds elements of the stories of explorers such as Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace. Both scientists have mapped out differences and similarities between species in flora, fauna and mankind in Asia and Oceania.
Music and abstraction
Lucas Silawanebessy plays guitar and occasionally derives his subjects and titles from lyrics or musicians who inspire him. His work always refer to his personal reality. A reality that he consciously not only limits to himself, but which he seeks to find in greater circles that he shares with peers, friends and students.
Finally, in the aftermath of his professional career that spans over 40 years, his work can be addressed and reflected upon as abstract art. Abstract art is a category that seems to be more of an ‘undercurrent’ nowadays. A movement that always remains imaginative and which is a rich source for the artist himself and for the attentive viewer to draw upon. However, in the case of Silawanebessy’s practice the abstract is not wholly applicable, because everything depicted in his work is connected and refers to the artist’s conceived visual reality.
‘The Drifter’ is his most recent work. It’s a modest sized silk-screen print created in close collaboration with Master Printer John Dohmen. The work took 25 print runs to complete, with an edition of 43, in Dohmen’s well equipped Tilburg graphic studio. The print is presented together with a publication on Silawanebessy’s recent work. The publication includes Dutch texts by Rebecca Nelemans and Chris Manders. Translation into English by Beth O’Brien.
The artist, Lucas Silawanebessy will be interviewed about the span of his career and his latest project by Jan Zobel on February 25th 2018 at Tilburg Culture Café 12 – 2 pm
Website Cultural Café (in Dutch only)
Website Lucas Silawanebessy
Website John Dohmen