In his celebrated book Animal Farm, George Orwell takes an allegory of the fauna world. Along his career, the English writer fought hard against empty propaganda and lies. Animal Farm describes such hatred in a very attractive package. A satire that is away from the use of vulgar words. Orwell’s target is certainly human beings to have good conscience, be well-mannered and not to cheat.

Willingdon Beauty is the name of the pig in this Orwell’s story. Willingdon Beauty, or his alias the Old Major is the smart, attractive, with a wise and benevolent appearance. Thus, Willingdon Beauty gains respect from the other animals.

In his speech, Willingdon Beauty provokes other animals in the farm:

“Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is the lord of all the animals.” 

Orwell ends the story of the animals’ rebellion which was initiated by the majestic-looking pig Willingdon Beauty, with the description as follows:

But as the animals outside gazed at the scene, it seemed to them that some strange thing was happening. What was it that had altered in the faces of the pigs? [… ]They rushed back and looked through the window again. Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

So that is fiction. But fiction obviously contains facts. Or more extremely: fiction is the reality. Whatever the criteria are, Orwell has cleverly borrowed animals—with all the cultural construction embedded into them—as a way to disclose human beings by sature. It is a signification over animals that is attached to humans.

Adi Gunawan is not an exception. He is involved in the euphoria of animal signification. His cultural background, growing up amid agrarian society, brought him very close to animals. This cultural position is in fact the aspect that enabled him to visualize motions, gestures, characters and expressions of animals eloquently. Adi Gunawan really masters how to talk about animals. This is why the good command then grew to be his language of expression. Through the language close to the characteristics of metaphors, metonymies and equivalents, Adi Gunawan softly constructs meaning in his artworks.  
Adi Gunawan, through his sculptures, puts forth the issue of the relationship between animals and humans. On the surface, it seems like a simple matter. But at a deeper level, the relationship between the two beings is not as simple as one imagines. Some reasons worth mentioning here. First, the relationship between animals and human, has dependencies in many aspects. Second, animals are often only positioned as something for consumption according to human’s production needs. Third, in many aspects animals are often the figuration of human’s bad characteristics, such as stupid, dumb, greedy, naughty, gross, slow, etc; or the good ones, such as strong, agile, beautiful, cheerful, etc. In short, the variety of animal signification has its own cultural space. For every place and every moment, the meanings vary. Thinkers, politicians and artists are the people who often produce the meanings of animals.
The solo exhibition is entitled “Willingdon Beauty”. It is named after the pig character in Orwell’s story. Despite not all Adi Gunawan’s subject matters are pig, but rather more of Willingdon Beauty’s persona, it is not overrated that the exhibition sticks to the title “Willingdon Beauty”.
As regards pigs, Adi Gunawan, for example, presents an issue in his work Upeti (Tribute). There is a language style for mocking an individual or a group of people. This is the satire that politely contains mockery or derision. See for example how a pig as a tribute is carried by four fat men with formal dress and wearing pig mask. Meanings out of this artwork can be directly made. The fat men may connote the issue of wealth or even greed. Formal dress bears the image of the wearer’s rank or social status. The pig as the tribute and the pig mask worn by the four men are eventually located in indefinite position: the tribute sender, one may say, the tribute itself. The sculpture of 500 x 80 x 150 cm dimension does not only stand astounding our eyes, but has put us—who are appreciating the work—in the inferior position. A terror that captures our senses. The tribute is superior, while we are inferior.
In another work, Sahabat (Buddy), Adi Gunawan also takes pig for his means of expression. He compares a pig to a human. The two beings, facing each other, have the same pose and gestures. Even their mimics are similar. Buddy is a herd of the same kind. Thus, Adi Gunawan combines the two different objects in the same pose, gestures and mimics. The sculpture’s symmetrical composition far strengthens the similarity. Humans are as if looking at their reflection on the pig; or vice versa, the pig is looking at its reflection on human. Buddy, is at worst a polite satire.
These two artworks are similar with the ending of Orwell’s story. Of course, Adi Gunawan and Orwell are not the only ones who utilize such language. In many practices of life, we frequently label someone a donkey, a crocodile, a monkey, and many more. The meanings constructed from these expressions blatantly conote the characteristics of the animals.
For sure, not all animals bear negative meanings. A lot of positive things are named after animals. WS Rendra, for example, is given the title “the Peacock”. Otto Iskandardinata is called “si Jalak (starling) Harupat”, and many others. Adi Gunawan also borrows this approach to represent a certain situation. His work Journey represents himself with his wife and two children. The four of them walk to some destination riding a turtle. Why turtle? “Turtles have a long life”, said Adi Gunawan. ‘Journey’ is a long journey that ends only in the imagination. Adi Gunawan seems to really appreciates the meaning of a journey as a route whose final spot is located in the end of goal. The journey’s life is long, like turtles.
Yet, turtles do not have a single meaning. In the work Superhero, Adi Gunawan borrows turtle as a metaphor. He makes efforts to build the phenomenon of replacing a literal word with a figurative animal. Slow, that is the word built. A superhero ironically rides a turtle, which walks slowly. Who is Adi Gunawan mocking? Certainly a lot of people. Superhero is not only Superman or any other modern imaginary character. But Superhero is the modern people in general. Us. Yes, us. In Roman Jakobson’s theory, this metaphor is emphasized by similarities or analogy. And exactly that superhero is ridiculed by Adi Gunawan as the silly riding the slow, the turtle. Again this is Adi Gunawan’s another satire.
Another work containing such subject is The Power of Love. A mother’s love or care to her child is usually described in the position of the mother breastfeeding the baby. The breastfeeding process is not restricted to the meaning of nutrition transformation process from the mother to the child, but, in many cultures it is an imagery of love. Ironically, in this work Adi Gunawan instead replaces the mother’s body with a cow. And the cow breastfeeds the human baby. This is today’s reality. The reality of modern society injected by the capitalists’ consumption culture. A cultural construction that has silently grabbed love and at the same time forgot about the miracle of mother’s milk. Adi Gunawan does not yell about this, he only shows it in a slow tone, with the white wrapping all over the sculpture’s body.
Beyond that, a lot of meanings can still be constructed by the appreciators of Adi Gunawan’s works. The flexibility of interpretation and signification are fully the appreciators’ autonomy. This essay is aimed to build meanings out of Adi Gunawan’s works. Of course the limitation of meaning possibilities constructible for the exhibition appreciators is unintentional. This essay, or the meanings I build, is only an explanation for myself alone. Whether in the future any of the exhibition appreciators will be drifted to the meanings I have built, I believe, is only a coincidence. It just so happens that we have the same horizon of hope.
So as not to make your interpretation space congested, as you are the appreciators of this exhibition, I better conclude this essay by quoting Karl Marx:
“An animal produces only itself, whilst man reproduces the whole of nature. An animal’s product belongs immediately to its physical body, whilst man freely confronts his product. An animal forms thing in accordance with the standard and the need of the species to which it belongs, whilst man knows how to produce in accordance with the standard of every species, and knows how to apply everywhere the inherent standard to the object. Man therefore also forms things in accordance with the laws beauty.” 
That is Marx’ stance on the difference between animals and humans. Marx stresses that, as an animal produces only itself, the product is directly rooted to its physical body, while human freely confronts the whole of nature. Humans, thus form things according to aesthetics. The satire using modest language as inscribed in the Adi Gunawan’s works clearly have also modestly seeped into our soul.