Art: Uji Handoko Eko Saputro

WIT ART THOU. For Uji Handoko Eko Saputro or Hahan, the world is a playground. Flippantly interpreting the social issues around him, Hahan generates impressively wicked artworks that frequently raise eyebrows.

Yes I’m Diameter (2013)

His boldness is also evident in his themes: “New Cock on the Block,” “Freedom in Geekdom” and “Gangster Nation.” Indeed, the 1983-born thrives among the emerging Indonesian artists, having mounted exhibitions in Indonesia, Singapore, Korea, Australia, Italy and Germany. Beyond painting, Hahan finds excitement in exploring new media, such as wood and music.


In The Name of Youth (2013)

Why do you become an artist?

I was born in a family who’s not really aware about art. My fixation on painting simply started when I was a child, doodling and drawing like a regular kid. As I grew up, I met some friends in a punk community and helped them create stickers and cassette covers. Someone then told me about Institut Seni Indonesia (Indonesian Institute of the Arts) and, after convincing my parents that I wouldn’t be a starving artist, I was in. That wasn’t entirely a lie. I planned to enroll in the print making major and create a clothing label afterwards. What happened inside the institution—interacting and collaborating with the senior artists—has changed my mindset thoroughly. Especially after I went to Korea for an artist residency program, I was assured that I am capable of creating art and having an exhibition.

Lucky Country Series #2 (2013)

How would you define your work as an artist?

I always start brainstorming from my personal perspective. There is this tendency of mine to view issues from the “black joke” point of view. I think it is brilliant to criticize someone in a subtle way. It’s like you cuddle that person, but they realize that they are being criticized. For me, art is interesting. It enables me to deliver my thought in a different way.

Uji Handoko Eko Saputro

You’re also playing music and DJ-ing. How did it start and how does it influence your work?

Inspired by a Yogyakarta-based band consisting of two art students, my friends and I created a band named Black Ribbon. As art students, we approached music differently. We focus on delivering performance instead of coming out with hit-potential songs. In one occasion we exchanged our roles, the one playing guitar was in charge of the drum, and so on. It was, and still is, purely experimental. Besides Black Ribbon, together with my friends and a Melbourne artist named Danius Kasminas, we create a music project named Punkasila. It is more like an art project—a collective and collaborative one. Next year we will play in Mona Foma, one of the most awaited music festivals held in Tasmania, Australia.