Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Portrait IX
Portrait IX

Bayu Utomo Radjikin painted The Portrait series between 2007 - 2009. In this enigmatic self-portrait, we see his mastery of line and form as he depicts himself as a Malay warrior, in mid-silat. The warrior, his face set in shadow, emanates a powerful masculinity as the artist delves into the myth of the male-hero archetype. The warrior’s headdress, the tanjak (or tengkolok) and how it is tied, usually reveals the status and origins of a warrior. The tying of the tanjak itself is an art form that is closely related to the Islamic ideal  of truth and beauty. While they can appear deceptively easy to read, Bayu’s warrior portraits present opportunities for rethinking the connections between tradition, heritage and identity.

Oil on canvas
199 x 145 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Bayu Utomo Radjikin
About Bayu Utomo Radjikin

Born in 1969 in Tawau, Sabah (East Malaysia), Bayu Utomo Radjikin graduated from the Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM). His practice which has ranged  from sculpture to figurative painting explores public and personal identity, and social commentary. He was a founding member of the MATAHATI collective and is now the Director of HOM Arts Trans. Bayu’s deep understanding of the body is evident in his theatrical figure paintings and sculptures. His works allow the mystical and the personal to intrude upon each other, and invite the viewer to rethink what we believe about tradition. 

Further Readings

Learning Section

  • Look carefully at this portrait. Describe what you see. How has colour been used in this painting? What, do you think,  is the significance of the artist's use of the colour red ?  Where is the light coming from in the painting? Where is the man in the painting looking? Why?

  • Compare this painting with the Peter Harris' painting "Warrior". What are the similarities between the two paintings? What are the differences? In your opinion, why has Bayu Utomo chosen to paint himself as a warrior? How is his intention different to that of Peter Harris?