Antonius Kho – Reconcile the West and East
I know Antonius Kho in the late 1970”s in Bandung and open manner made us good friends quite quickly. We organized joint exhibition several times. As young sculptors at our own age at that time, we were both eager to learn and wanted to appear in progressive Bandung world of sculpture. Since 1977 we felt that we had the same opportunity what we would like to be.
As far as I know, Antonius Kho was an Indonesian born Chinese but he is strongly influenced by Javanese culture which makes him understand the nature and characteristics of Bandung sculpture. This means that he inherits the nature of a hard working Chinese man, Javanese dedication, and Bandung intellectuality which helps him adopt Western style of analysis. These tree qualities certainly make him one of the most outstanding artists in the country. One thing that I was not aware before is that Antonius Kho is also interested in being involved in organizational activities related to sculpture. In Bali he is involved in the promotion of Tata Ubud, an effort dedicated to establish networking among Balinese artists.
I haven’t met Antonius Kho in the 1980”s and I thought he just disappeared already. To my surprise I found that he was interested in Batik making in Yogyakarta and pursued his studies in Cologne, Germany. In the 1990”s we managed to meet more frequently. At the end of the 1990”s two of us held a get-together in Cologne. Antonius Kho’s studies could easily be observed through his work of art. I can say this because he sends me the documentation of his work regularly which allows me to learn more about him. In essence, Antonius Kho tries to manipulate different elements such as materials, techniques, nature of materials used and media development.
Observing Antonius Kho’s most recent work I noticed that materials became most important. He uses different kinds of materials such as paper, rags and jute not only attached together to give artistic flavor but also to create a sense of power and objective. His techniques are a combination of that of painting, batik making, collages” arrangement, producing field intersection. Decoration is skillfully and intensively done indicating a strong desire to produce artistic possibility. In the end, his very characteristic lies on fields’ compilation, maintaining line effects and colors. As far as color is concerned I noticed Antonius Kho combines the Europeans influence of colors with that of batik. I also indentified that he tries to reconcile the West and East (I do not think I can find the right word to express this!). This indicates that tree is analytical power within him self. At least he realizes that his life is divided into two cultural domains, i.e. in one year he has been exposed to European and Indonesian culture which has made him unite the two in his framework of mind. One might say that Antonius Kho is a quiet artist but inside his mind there is a constant tension. You can not only see this materialized in visible forms but also personalized through the themes of his work of art. Therefore, he seems to be certain to talk about something specific, such as representation of forms with eyes and past ornaments. However, the themes he has in his mind can talk much more ranging from humanity in the daily life to his critical attitudes of social phenomena of the peoples all over the world. The most interesting tension that Antonius Kho has in his mind is his love to the world of myth and restlessness on the material world. There are intriguing symbols but their use is not just to uncover meanings but also to presence the essence or not to talk about anything at all.
I believe that within Antonius Kho’s mind there is a never-ending world game to explore. He has done his exploration very seriously and accepted that life flows continuously but he selects such flows to capture the currents which take him to a serious game. At least that’s how I know Antonius Kho, a sculptor and a painter in the possession of diligence, dedication and intellectuality.
Maman Noor (Art writer)