Born in East Java, Indonesia, F X Harsono (1949) is one of the original members of the late 1970s avant-garde group Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru (New Art Movement) whose agenda included a socially conscious art. Using symbols, signs, images, text and objects, Harsono employs the language of the mass media and popular culture to provide entry-points for social commentaries on socio-political conditions in Indonesia.
The themes of pain, violence and suffering have always been featured in Harsono’s works. However, the kind of pain featured in his recent series is markedly different from his earlier works, which exhibit outright brutality. In ‘Titik Nyeri’, Harsono chose countless needles, impaled with butterflies, pinned onto the artist’s visage to represent pain and suffering. Needles, associated with women’s crafts, are not life-threatening and the pain associated with a needle prick is often fleeting and momentary. However, constant pricking, which Harsono associated with the kind of violence in contemporary Indonesia such as subtle discrimination, will wear people out eventually, and it is no different from other kinds of violence.