Portrait photography

Adhi Kusumo: portrait photography as art and therapy – arts & culture


For Adhi Kusumo, photography is a hobby and at the same time a therapy to cope with his introverted character which has been anchored in him since childhood, making him one of the few photographers in Indonesia to specialize in photography. portrait category.

“I purposely chose the portrait because in this category, I inevitably have to interact with the photographed subject,” he said during a meeting at the SK Coffee Lab in Kediri, in East Java, in sidelines of a photo exhibition titled “Beauty Is You”.

After graduating in Advertising from Gadjah Mada University (UGM), Yogyakarta, in 1997, he studied photography at the New York Institute of Photography while working as a migrant worker in the United States from 1999 to 2003.

He chose the genre of environmental portrait photography as a visual approach to his photographic works.

“It is the art of photographing a subject in an everyday place such as the residence or the workplace with the property concerned,” he said.

The Kediri-born photographer puts more emphasis on ambiance in addition to subject pose, while property and background become important portrait information. “Location and property form an integrated whole capable of reflecting the character as well as the emotion and thought of the subject,” he added.

Adhi turned to this genre after attending an advanced journalistic photo workshop in Jakarta in 2007 with Dutch photographer and artist Jan Banning, winner of the World Press Photo Award in the portrait category.

“This type of photos requires an intense collaboration of ideas and imagination with the character of the one to be profiled and is therefore suitable for the therapy of my introversion,” he said.

His works have already been presented in exhibitions organized by famous names in the Indonesian photography scene such as Oscar Motulloh, Ray Bachtiar Dradjat and Deny Salman. Her latest exhibition, “Beauty Is You,” explored 20 artists in Yogyakarta as a theme. They included visual artists, actors, musicians and literary figures as the subjects of his portraits.

Among them were Gunawan Maryanto, Heri Pemad, Laksmi Shitaresmi, Budi Kustarto, Bob Sick and the daughter of famous poet WS Rendra, Naomi Srikandi.

“I selected them because of their selfless artistic dedication and strong influence on the art world not only in Yogya, but also in the country,” he said, adding that the project had lasted two years.

Adhi described these artists as quite cooperative during the photo sessions, with the support of visual artist Laksmi Shitaresmi who had given access to the Yogya personalities.

Gunawan Maryanto, an actor who played the role of the late poet Wiji Thukul in the film Istirahatlah Kata-Kata (Solo, Solitude), had no objection to switching poses and backgrounds, though he eventually appeared in a sitting posture with a stack of books beside him. Adhi struggled to photograph Gunawan as they are both reluctant. “He lives in Bantul in isolation with only books, no TV, music or radio,” he said.

Meanwhile, Naomi Srikandi was posed in a red Muslim costume contrasting with the green leaves of the banana trees in her home garden, mirroring in macro terms the function of her headscarf and banana leaves as a cloak of a specific identity.

“With or without a headscarf, Naomi remains critical in her artistic works, highlighting gender issues in the context of dominant power in society,” he said.

Heri Pemad, the founder of the annual contemporary art event ARTJOG, had no idea how he wanted his photo taken.

“He felt relaxed to be photographed in the restroom, where he draws inspiration from frequently,” said Adhi, born in 1978.

He also painted a portrait of Bob Sick, a painter, in a modest way without exposing too much of his tattooed body and face. Bob sat topless in a bamboo chair with a beam of light entering through an open door in the background.

“He seemed to be embracing divine light because in his current state he could finally go on. umrah [minor pilgrimage]”said Adhi.

This project, he added, allowed him to record the unique lives of artists.

The photos already exhibited at Bentara Budaya Yogyakarta and SK Coffee Lab Kediri featured artists who have reached the age of 40, a period of life characterized by emotional and spiritual maturity allowing them to add color to Yogyakarta as city ​​of culture.

“Beauty is therefore not limited to their works, it is also reflected in these creative celebrities themselves,” he stressed.

For Adhi, each of the stages of life has its own dynamic and the Beauty is you collection of portraits manifested its creation to present its special photographic achievement at the age of 40.

“In the future, I want to take photos of artists who have made artistic achievements in East Java,” he said.


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