His clever use of bookbinding techniques results in sculptures that upturn expectations of the craft

“Seeing is believing”, or so the adage goes. The playful work of Indonesian artist and printmaker Irfan Hendrian shakes up your perception of what you think you see. These include “wooden” blocks made from a stack of paper digitally printed with woodgrain-effect patterns as well as stone-like columns and wood-like trunks crafted using bookbinding techniques.

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Currently shown at Aloft at Hermès in Liat Towers until October 13, Hendrian’s solo exhibition, Some Other Matter, features paper sculptures that celebrate the art of book-binding while exploring our relationship with natural materials.

“In Some Other Matter, I’m trying to show how detached we are from materials in the new digital age, the value it holds for us, and how it connects us with nature,” shares Hendrian. “The material world has shaped our history and nature, it gives us possibilities of producing anything, thus directly influencing everything in our lives. Our interaction with it every day imbues it with memories, meaning and values.”

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Based in Bandung, Indonesia, Hendrian was struck by how young designers and students were becoming out of touch with the production process due to the focus on digital media.

“I was trained in the Bauhaus school of thought as a graphic designer and it has influenced my artistic practice even till today,” explains Hendrian, who also teaches visual communication in Bandung. “The Bauhaus influence that is deeply rooted in my practice is the balance of craftsmanship and mass-production, and to be efficient in every aspect of the production stages.”

Through his work, the artist hopes to start a discourse about materiality in the digital age while embracing the city’s heritage of industrial printing; Indonesia is also a key supplier of paper resources.

For this commission, the artist’s focus on materiality was also inspired by the abandoned sites that he saw during his search for a new studio in Bandung. He was struck by the ubiquity and impermanence of the makeshift structures built at these sites, which were made using salvaged materials such as corrugated iron and wooden planks; one of the pieces shown at the exhibition recreates this sight.

Citing paper as a medium of communication, the artist invites visitors to bring home a piece of his art, too; these include posters covered in wildflower motifs and wood-effect paper that constitute a part of his paper sculptures.

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Meanwhile, paper continues to be the artist’s favourite medium. “I’ve practised design and experimented with industrial printmaking, and yet I keep finding new things about paper to explore; it’s the most underrated material yet such a good tool for artists.”

The Some Other Matter exhibition is held from 1 August to 31 October at Aloft at Hermès, 541 Orchard Road, Liat Towers