Abdi Setiawan was born in Sicincin, Pariaman, West Sumatera, on 29 December 1971. He currently resides in Yogyakarta. He creates life-sized sculptures and installations about the daily life of Indonesians from various social backgrounds. The human figures in his works, and the things that accompany them, are deliberately made as crude sculptures with washed-out colors. These sculptures seem to avoid ever coming near a perfection of form—as sought by conventional sculptures. These vague distortions have dual characteristics: they draw near (due to the familiarity of themes and models), as well as distancing themselves (due to the sculpting and coloring techniques).
Abdi Setiawan completed his studies at the Indonesian Art Institute, ISI Yogyakarta in 2003. One of his works, on the people populating a prostitution locale and their various antics and styles, managed to draw the attention of visitors to “the 2005 CP International Biennale: Urban/Culture”. He has participated in many group exhibitions since his student days. Most notable among them are “Dialog Dua Kota I” (Dialog of Two Cities I), Taman Ismail Marzuki (1996), “the 14th Jakarta Biennale: Maximum City” (2011); and “Yogyakarta—5 Artists from Indonesia”¸Marc Straus Gallery, New York, USA (2012). His solo exhibitions are “Gairah Malam” (lit. Night Desires), Le Centre Culturel Francais, Yogyakarta (2004); “The Flaneur”, Nadi Gallery, Jakarta (2007), and most recently, “New Sculptures” at Andre Simoens Gallery, Knokke-Zoute, Belgium and Metis Gallery, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2010). He was also a Phillip Morris Art Award finalist in 2001.