Born in 1965 in Cilacap, Indonesia, Nasirun is a graduate of the Indonesia Institute of the Arts (ISI), Yogyakarta and is known for creating large-format paintings based on his extensive knowledge of Javanese wayang. He was earlier criticized for being a painter who only aimed to serve the market. To the criticism Nasirun was not angry. It was sure that he did not to deny that he got a lot of benefits from market. Nevertheless he has also made proof that market has been not the primary goal of his works. The proof can be seen not only from his personality that so low profile although he has been very success now, but also from his works during the last fifteen years. Now public respect to his works as high quality arts which may be not ignored in contemporary arts development in Indonesia.
During the mid-1990s, well-known art collector Oei Hong Djein began purchasing Nasirun's paintings. Since then, his works began to rise in popularity among art collectors in both Indonesia and the Southeast Asian region.
Since 1998, Nasirun's work has been exhibited throughout Indonesia in several regions including Magelang, Semarang, Jakarta, Bali andYogyakarta.
Nasirunâ€™s simplicity is seen through his works displayed in his solo exhibition in Yogyakarta, in September 28 â€“ October 12, 2009. The exhibition entitled â€śSalam Bektiâ€ť (â€śRespect Toâ€ť) presented about twenty paintings.So simple, but full of spiritual contents, his works here expressed the syncretism between Javanese culture and Islam. It is really that, for Nasirun, make a painting is not only an action which has to do with aesthetic matter. Make a painting is a spiritual action too.
In an interview with a journalist Nasirun compared himself with his late father who was so religious. â€śMy father used to pray intently (zikir) to make closed relationship with God, but I use the brush and canvas,â€ť he said. Nasirun was born and growth in Islamic family. His elementary school was also Islamic school (Madrasah Ibtidaiyah) in Cilacap, Central Java. But his family,especially his mother, is also Javanese persons that used to do Javanese spiritua ltradition. So, the syncretism between Java and Islam in Nasirunâ€™s personality and works is his parentâ€™s legacies. It is really that this exhibition entitled â€śSalam Bektiâ€ť was to respect his late father and mother.
His work entitled â€śWayang Ilang Gapiteâ€ť was inspired by his motherâ€™s advice when Nasirun was still young boy. His mother asked Nasirun not to be naughty and always to be honest in order not to fall without the strength as like as wayang (puppet in Javanese traditional performingart) without the supported wood (gapit).
His works are here generally as the result of his struggle in spiritual world. Some paintings are complemented with Arabic calligraphy that mention thename of God. His work, â€śNgiloâ€ś (Looking at The Mirror), for instance, draw Nasirun with his very long hair, lying flat on the ground, holding a women figure of wayang, in front of mirror. I assume that this painting refers to Nasirun himself that always try to respect to his mother. At the one side of the canvas we can see the Arabic calligraphy and Indonesian translation contains the request to the God. On his other work, â€śDuh Gustiâ€ť (Oh God!), Nasirun also put texts in Arabic, Javanese and Indonesian that mention the name of God.
His work that so interesting is â€śKiai Narsisrunâ€ť which portray Nasirun wearing â€śbaju kokoâ€ś, â€śsarungâ€ś, and â€śpeciâ€ť â€“the clothes that are often used by an Muslim religious leader or teacher (Kiai) in Indonesia. This Kiai Narsisrun hold â€śkendiâ€ť (earthenware flask with a neckand spout used for drinking water). Here there is also some texts written in Arabic and Latin alphabet. This painting is seemed as manifestation of Nasirun obsession to take a role in spiritual world although pass through the art work. Or maybe it is just as a self-mockery because the title of this painting is â€śKiai Narsisrunâ€ś. I assume that the word â€śNarsisrunâ€ť come from word â€śNarsisâ€ť (Narcissism) and Nasirun. It is really that Nasirun is a humourist artist. Nasirun is able to make use of a humourous approach even when he wishes to say something serious.