Sat, 12 Apr 2003

Art surfaces outside galleries - in the bookshop

Carla Bianpoen, Contributor, Jakarta

As exhibitions these days are not limited to museums and galleries anymore, art that previously remained within the confines of the artist's living quarters now has a chance to surface in prestigious spaces like five-star hotels, modern shopping malls and quality bookshops.

One of such artists currently presented by QB bookshop in Kemang is Jopram, a painter who likes to classify himself as self-taught, although he was a student of Surabaya SMSR, a kind of secondary-level art school.

The paintings currently on display until April 13 are interesting for their blend of the weirdly naive with a touch of the metaphysical, while retaining a quality of visual attraction. They are products of conscious or subconscious contemplation on events in real life, merged with the imagery of tales and legends, as well as reveries amid illusionary worlds. Yet social and political events and conditions of the country appear also to have found a path into either his conscious or subconscious. Such is evident from paintings titled Tolong Kami (Help Us, 80 centimeters (cm) x 100 cm), Kursi Raja (King's Chair, 80 cm x 100 cm) and Yang Tertuduh (The Accused, 80 cm x 100 cm).

Tolong Kami clearly refers to natural disasters assumed to be due to unnatural causes while Kursi Raja, an empty chair in the decorative mode, speaks for itself. Similarly, Yang Tertuduh, which shows a wayang-cartoonish image, is clear to anyone who has followed Indonesian politics. Dominating colors are brown in several hues, with a lightening white and some black and green. His other paintings demand more effort from the onlooker to be drawn into the world of the artist. Although his works are executed in the semi-naive mode, the color combination evokes a sense of wanting to know more.

There is, for instance, his painting titled Tapak perjalanan (Traces of a Journey, 80 cm x 100 cm), which blends brownish-red with black, tosca blue-green and white. It features a figure in a module as if ready to depart from the earth into the darkness of space. Is the artist referring to his own journey into his subconscious?

There is also a painting titled Keluarga Kuda (Horse Family, 80 cm x 60 cm), which intrigues because of its almost childish image of multiple horses standing over each other, and a girl on top of the largest horse as if on the verge of jumping off. Against a dark tosca green background is a black horse of which the upper side is white standing over another smaller animal in gray, which in turn hovers over the smallest horse colored black. On the white horse there is an animal in red, while on top of the main horse is a woman in a position as if she were on the verge of jumping off. According to the artist, this is his visualization of himself, and of the power of family. White symbolizes good, and black evil, while red is a metaphor for lust and desire. One is still left with the question of why this girl, with the image of a white flower on her red-colored pocket, wants to jump off the horse.

Of course, it is not necessary to understand all that was in the painter's mind. Ultimately, it is how each and every person can enjoy the painting just by the mere sight of it.

Jopram Art Exhibition runs until April 13, 2003 at QB World Kemang, across KemChicks, South Jakarta.