The Old, New Converge in Contemporary Art Exhibit
The rims of the wooden pots intertwine, linking the two vessels together into an aesthetically pleasing whole. Titled “Double Vessel,” the work by Indonesian sculptor Anusapati is as much a nod to pottery and ceramics’ past as it is about new forms or mediums of the art.
“The interlinked pots that make up [‘Double Vessel’] reflect [Anusapati’s] experience in woodworking and the versatility of the medium. It also addresses [the craft’s] multiple purposes and its different techniques, which vary from one part of Indonesia to another,” said curator and Dia.lo.gue Artspace gallery owner Hermawan Tanzil.
“It also recalls pottery’s ubiquitousness in pre-Islamic Java, when Buddhism and Hinduism reached their zenith on the island. The era was marked by technological strides in the decorative arts, of which pottery was among the leading examples.”
“Double Vessel” is currently in display as part of “Contemporary Eye of Indonesian Art and Culture Heritage,” an exhibition of cutting edge contemporary Indonesian art.
Held at the Dia.lo.gue Artspace gallery in Kemang, South Jakarta, the exhibition sets out to make a “contemporary interpretation of the cultural heritage behind Indonesian sculpture,” Hermawan explained.
“The artists in the exhibition are renowned for their technical proficiency and their ability to use cultural symbols, both in a metaphorical as well aesthetic manner.
“They have the discretion to rediscover the meaning of the historic artifacts of their choice and give them a new meaning in line with the present thoughts.
“What makes this exhibition special isn’t just the end result; it’s the extensive discussion or process that I think is crucial in any artistic effort,” he added.
Prominent Indonesian sculptor Dolorosa Sinaga deftly did just this with a number of her works, among them “Mengapa Kau Menculik Anak Kami?” (“Why Do You Kidnap Our Children?”).
“[‘Mengapa Kau Menculik Anak Kami’] takes the form of a sarcophagus, which is used by the ancient Batak culture to respect and honor the dead,” Dolorosa explained. “But in this sense, the sarcophagus is inspired by the kidnapping of activists in 1998.”
Seemingly set in stone, the sense of grief and outrage is palpable in the voiceless wailing of a mother holding her dead child.
An overwhelming sense of loss is also evident in the fiberglass work; the figure’s outstretched arms seem to indicate her search for answers to the tragedy, which remained unresolved to this day.
Known for her critical take on Indonesian history, the 62-year-old also questioned conventional wisdom behind the 1965 purge of suspected communists in “Concise History of Mass Murdered of 1965 in Indonesia.”
Inspired by the “Naga Padoha,” a sacred, ancient text of Batak cosmology and folk wisdom, the book is her own take on the massacres, which killed between 500,000 to more than one million suspected Indonesian communist.
Similar to “Mengapa Kau Menculik Anak Kami,” grief and loss pours out of the book, as seen in the figure of a mourning woman clinging on to a coffin.
The figure is weighed down by the book, as if to indicate how the lack of resolution of the issue still hangs over the nation 50 years on.
Other works, like Taufan AP’s “Soul Mate/ The Journey” series, brought a new twist to traditional motifs.
“[‘Soul Mate/ The Journey’] is inspired by animal forms portrayed on motifs in the Borobudur and Prambanan temples, as well as sculptures and totems dating back to the 13th century. The sculpture also evokes the figure of Bodhisattvas and their closeness to animals,” said the 41-year-old. “I used an origami style to portray the figures to give them a uniquely cubistic and artistic shape.
“I chose to portray a water buffalo in ‘The Journey’ because of the animal’s strength, sturdiness and speed in running. On one hand its a symbol about how one should live their life; on the other, the portrayal of the water buffalo relaxing with the farmer represents an idyll of rural life.”
Fellow artist Awan Parulian Simatupang had a similarly whimsical take on Indonesia’s past with “Celengan,” or “Piggybank,” series.
“[‘Celengan’] shows how the practice of saving [money] remain unchanged over time, starting from a simple piggybank to the use of commercial banks,” he said. “Their use dates back to the 14th or 15th century, as excavations of Majapahit sites uncovered terracotta piggybanks that served the same purpose.”
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Source: The Jakarta Globe