2013. Marker and pigment on archival print
Drawing cage 22:72. 2013. Marker and pigment on archival print. Diptych, frame: 49 x 67cm
This series emerged from the artist's failed attempt to draw a portrait of 20th century American composer John Cage. Widjaja sought connections between himself and Cage: sound compositions, the latter's Singaporean protege Margaret Leng Tan, his spirituality, before Widjaja finally found a link - stone tracings. Cage devoted the last decade of his life making stone tracings – inspired by his trip to temple-garden Ryoanji, Japan – that were guided by chance-based operations. Independently, Widjaja has been using stones in his practice, aleatoricism as method, and had travelled to Japan just before work on Drawing Cage started. The connection is idiosyncratic, almost (appropriately) random.
Drawing Cage became an even more intimate portrait of John Cage than when Widjaja was drawing his likeness. In this series, drawing is used to complicate time space, to compress dimensions, to make present the past and future.
The artist, son of Chinese diaspora, accessed photographs that he took when he travelled with his parents to his grandfather's hometown in Xiamen, China. The photographs were embedded/layered digitally. Pigment was painted onto the archival print using Chinese brush – an instrument loaded with cultural and artistic symbolisms but devoid of them when wielded by the artist's uninitiated body. Widjaja finished the work with marker tracings of stones sourced from the Yellow River.