The three characters in Chinese names normally consist of three elements of meaning. The first one is a surname or family name. The following two characters each refer to generational name and given name. The structure of the three characters of FX Harsono’s Chinese name can be reexamined to define the layers of representation in “Spinae/Duri”.
In the first layer, Harsono presents archives as material, or the processing of those materials. During the colonial period, archival documents marked Chinese identity as “Timur Asing” (“Foreign East”) and used it as a controlling tool.
The second layer is symbolism. The works in this exhibition highlight boats, crowns, and thorn reeds. The boat symbolically presents an interval between the past and the present, between the present and the future. Harsono marks his nostalgia towards the history with a non-existent memory or a nostalgia without memory.
The third is the given name, referring to the identity. In this third layer, Harsono gives subjective definition to the materiality aspects of his works. Through his subjective imagination, Harsono affixes an aura or pamor (prestige) in the thorn crown that is full of political meaning. Similar to pamor, power needs to be forged to obtain magical aura. In his paintings, the three elements are finally blended in. Historical documents or fragments, symbolism, and the artist’s imagination are not tangible boundaries in these works.
Hendro Wiyanto, 2023.