Looking at true talent Yaya Sukaya’s Solo Exhibition, ‘CLOSE UP’

Arts: Paintings


Looking at true talent

Yaya Sukaya’s Solo Exhibition, ‘CLOSE UP’

Text and photography by Loreen Neville
April 1st 2009

Obsessed with the arts since University, Yaya Sukaya was born to be a star. A master in arts by his own rights, under the right management Yaya Sukaya will travel far and wide to become famous. His skills and ideas will develop more profoundly through age. -Loreen Neville    

It is not often that I would come across an Indonesian artist whose work is original and mind blowing. Indonesia has a lot of great talented painters and sculptors; regretful however, many of their works are duplicates, copied or from stolen ideas. Paintings in Bali and Bandung for example are flooded with replicated art, mass produced, duplicated from the original. Even in the advertisements or local TV channels, often enough replicated works from overseas ideas or concepts have been flicked. Perhaps they think that people have never ventured outside of Indonesia nor have access to information or the internet. Upon attending the opening of a solo exhibition entitled, Close Up, on March 12th 2009, I was stunt at the simplicity and remarkable art works that embraced the gallery, projecting the facial expression of youth painted by this God gifted artist Yaya Sukaya.   

Close Up is Yaya’s solo exhibition with about 31 pieces of his original acrylic paintings on canvas. Yaya proved his work scope by involving systematic angles to the designs, playing with colors adapting photographic prototype techniques. He produced various visual mental stages of the mind through facial expressions. The exhibition was conducted in Bahasa Indonesia but the art works of the artist were titled in English making it easier for me to comprehend and relate to.

Surprising In this art piece, ‘Surprising’ Acrylic on canvas size 300 x 200cm, Yaya painted the facial expressions of the subject  into two angles playing with a dark green color that sort of illuminates the features from the black background. Yaya said, “In all of his current paintings, he has removed the hair. Because the hair can be dyed into various colors but the face of a person cannot change except grow old.”    I noticed that the point where the pupil of the eye stresses, Yaya has painted a red dot. He also used his brush to draw fine vertical white lines over his work. So detailed and refine are these facial expressions that even the hairline and earrings are visible.        



Close Up-1, entitled facing, No more words

Using the same technique but in a different color scheme, Yaya from photographic details of younger generation models, exposes various facial angles in purple and black defining punk and rock trends. The horizontal lines are now painted even bolder. This time the red points were directed at the hands and finger tips.

DSC_1144, no more words-1, dreaming-1

Here Yaya Sukaya brings more colors into his work playing around with fonts covert with horizontal blush red lines. These acrylic paintings on canvas are sized 142 x 170 cm. Yaya also portrays the trend of accessories used by youth in Indonesia. I asked him about his models and he simply replied that he paints them from photographs taken by him or from photographs taken by his friends and given to him. Yaya has a son about the same age as those portrayed in his pieces.   

SmilingEntitled ‘Smiling’ 300 x 200 cm Acrylic on canvas was on sale at the exhibition for about 40 million rupiah. The price ranges of all the paintings are between 17 to 40 million rupiahs.  Truly, painted from the hands of a master craftsman, Yaya has captured the smile of this Indonesian youth dawning trendy clothing accessories. Here he plays with sepia colors. Although he says he does not paint the hair yet by outlining the hair lines of the fringe, it appears as though he has painted the hair style.    




Of all of Yaya’s paintings, the piece that I admired the most is entitled, ‘My Black Glasses’. The acrylic paint color combination of copper brown and sepia toning actually brings out the dark skin tone of this image painted on canvas sized about 200 x 150 cm.  This prototype medium requires careful deliberation to acquire such a color. I know for I had always obtained distinctions in examinations for arts.

The image painted onto the dark lenses of the sunglasses is the reflection of a person taking this picture. Here it shows how detail Yaya Sukaya is in his work. There are double images of the same character on the lenses. So I used my own dark sun glasses to see if a twin image would be reflected. Yes it did. This particular art piece was sold for 23 million rupiahs. 

It has often been said that Visual arts is the work of imagination but here Yaya Sukaya has shown that visual art is the work of freedom of expression and that imagination is a pathway to creation. That visual art is reality captured through the eye via the brain and down to canvas. To be able to capture and paint an exact scene requires a skill if not a talent.

Yaya Sukaya solo exhibition DSC_1151

Yaya Sukaya designed this installation to be symmetric. The lighting effects of this creation are only a tiny lighted bulb at the far end. This enabled the shadow of the mannequin and the skulls to be projected onto the wall. The cut horizontal layers of mirrors transmitted ultrasonic wave like patterns of shadows onto the wall.

DSC_1121, DSC_1129

As a sculptor Yaya created stone images of smeared distorted facial features that can be used for interiors and tile pieces.   

DSC_1111 DSC_1096

DSC_1078About Yaya Sukaya

Born in Tasikmalaya West Java in 1954, Yaya graduated from the Bandung Institute of Technology, Faculty of Fine Art in 1997. Yaya Sukaya is perhaps one of Indonesia’s up rising creative artist and sculptor. The exhibition is only his sixth, his first being in 2004.

Yaya Sukaya was brought up in a family who loved arts. His father a farmer was also known to paint in Tasikmalaya and educated his son to have affection for and be exposed in the world of arts.  Yaya is a soft spoken person, simple and while he has the gift to paint, sells his work to support his wife and son.  Like his father, Yaya also influences his son into this atmospheric artistry of colors, paints and canvas.  Yaya remembered his father’s suggestion to enter the school of fine arts but Yaya instead chose interior arts. Yaya attributes his accomplishment to his father’s support towards the world of arts morally and financially. His work of female expressions is inspired from his mother, a woman who does not surrender easily despite life’s struggles and financial hurdles.

Yaya and Anna with son


Sculptor and artist, Yaya Sukaya with his wife Ratna and son Tegar, during the opening day of his solo exhibition.  I think Yaya’s current exhibited work of facial expressions of youth in trendy accessories was brought about or inspired by his son’s generation or age group.   




ClOSE UP, the Solo Exhibition of Yaya Sukarya was exhibited at the National Arts Gallery of Indonesia.  The exhibition ran from the 12th of March up to the 23rd March 2009.     

Yaya’s art pieces were on sale. 


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