Irene Febry’s artistic collaborations invite us to look closer

‘AZIZA’ 2020 Exploring art on human body. Photograph by @govindarumi Muse @nkd.sentiments

Emerging Indonesian artist Irene Febry’s collaborations with multi-disciplined creatives and the community construct beautiful layered collages that reflect our natural environment

Creating an environment of cooperation as opposed to competition is the natural order of ecosystems.  Cocreation is the most potent and practical pathway for humanity to thrive into the future. Therefore, collaborations are an increasingly visible and exciting aspect of the evolving Bali contemporary art scene, especially by the younger generation.

Irene Febry is an emerging Indonesian artist whose career is defined by collaborative projects as a contemporary artist and an art educator. Upon graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts at LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore, she was employed at Etonhouse International Pre-School, Jakarta, 2014 – 2016. Febry worked as an Atelierista, a person with a background in education and creative arts, who works with teachers and students, devising and facilitating learning experiences that compliments the classroom curricular.

Irene Febry

In 2017 Febry moved to Bali and focused upon developing her collage practice. She combines delicate layers to construct aesthetic ideas, from paper cuttings to fabrics, to objects, materials and the human body harmonically captured in digital images. “I love investigating colour, shape and different materials,” Febry told the Jakarta Post. “I paint, draw, stitch, and collage/assemble materials, mostly with recycled and found objects. I’m interested in creating another way to look at them, like giving them a second life.”

“My process provides me with the flexibility of constant change. The compositions transform in size and detail and evolve into microcosms of colours and shapes interacting with one another and forming a dynamic. I like seeing the details in layers, the intricateness and textures; the illusion of perspective and depth.” 

‘Human’, Febry’s 2020 collaboration with photographer Govinda Rumi and model Aziza is a series of black & white and colour digital images exploring art on the human body. Bodypaint, printed fabric, balloons and strings combine with the female form unlocking the extraordinary potential of three talented young creatives. The outcomes are wonderfully imaginative ideas, rich in expression and ethereal poetic qualities. Superb negative spaces highlight the compositions. “I enjoy being with people, and making art with others always gives me a blast of energy and inspiration. Many years ago, I observed several artists doing community art projects. I was inspired by how it united people,” said Febry, born in Bogor, West Java, in 1989.

Collaborative artwork by children from Desa Ole, Tabanan

Charcoal for Children 2021 ‘Tell Me Tales’ is and ongoing workshop program involving artists working with children from villages around Bali and is presented by CushCush Gallery, Denpasar. Through the workshops children explore their creativity, imagination and become more aware of their surrounding environments and culture. They collaborate with different multidisciplinary creatives; Febry and two other artists.

“So far, we’ve engaged with three villages; each has a different environment and culture. The first visit was Desa Ole, in the Tabanan regency, surrounded by beautiful rice fields. Here, the collage works incorporated lots of greenery and wildflowers. The next project was in Batuan, Gianyar, renowned for the ‘Batuan School of  Painting’. The children combined Batuan style drawings into their charcoal works. The third village, Panglipuran in Bangli, Central Bali, is situated near a massive bamboo forest. The collages included bamboo leaves, and other plants found nearby,” Febry explained. 

“The children get to learn something different yet relevant to what they have in their surroundings. The facilitators learn about the children’s culture while putting together a children storybook, scheduled to be published next year in 2022. The value of these projects is the exchange of knowledge,” Febry explained. “Not everyone can have access to art supplies, and understanding what we already have in daily life that can be utilized is important. The parents were grateful their children had activities other than playing with their handphones.”

Photograph by @govindarumi Muse @nkd.sentiments

‘Microcosm’ Febry’s first solo exhibition 22 May – 11 June 2021 at Uma Seminyak, in conjunction with Puri Art Gallery as a part of Art Moments art fair, presented fourteen collage works. Fusing paper cuttings and delicate, colourful materials taking organic shape mounted directly to the gallery wall and framed paper. “My work can be purely abstract, or sometimes it abstractly illustrates an idea. My inspiration comes from nature and my immediate surroundings. I observe as if I’m looking through a magnifying glass. When people look at a house, I will  be looking at the cracks on the walls.”

“Every artist has a unique way of perceiving things, along with distinct skillsets. There are many things that I cannot do. I love it when I talk to others, and they bring in ideas and possibilities that I would never have thought of or be able to do. Collaborations enable us to create fresh artworks and push us out of our comfort zones. There are endless explorations and possibilities. Continuous learning is essential; if we stop, we become stagnant.”

Words: Richard Horstman

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