Sun, 01 Jun 2003

Artistic siblings turn eye on human nature

Hera Diani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Graphic art is a relatively new, lesser known tradition compared to the genre of painting in this country.

Interestingly, the pioneers of the development of graphic art were painters, sculptors and other artists who discovered printing as another means to express themselves.

"The development of graphic arts here is not very good. Many people still don't find it interesting, or understand it," said Yogyakarta-based graphic artist M. Khaeruddin.

A graduate of the Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI), the 35- year-old said that only a couple of members of a graduating class continue in the field.

"Other people mostly works in the advertising field, or make book covers," Khaeruddin said. "That includes me."

Part of the problem is sourcing the equipment, such as that needed for lithographs.

"Only when I received an invitation for a workshop could I make a lithograph," said Khaeruddin, a semifinalist in the Indonesian Arts Awards 2000.

Despite the limitations of a lack of recognition and equipment problems, he has not abandoned his field. Some of his works and those of his brother, A. Rahman Saleh, are now on show at the British Council here until June 30.

Titled Fragmen Imajinasi (Imagination Fragments), the exhibition showcases the siblings' contemplation of the crises affecting the country.

In the pamphlet for the exhibition, the brothers (Rahman did not attend the opening) said that the works were the result of their restlessness to find the values of humanity.

They are explored in absurd symbols or distortion of form, which, they said, expressed a rebellion against rigid cultures and behavior.

Khaeruddin uses the techniques of drawing, woodcuts, etching and silk screen, most produced in dark, gloomy colors.

Of all the symbols and distorted forms, he exploits eyes the most "because eyes don't lie". The eye, in diverse forms and variations, are featured throughout the exhibition.

"But the whole theme is fragmented, so it's not the same (for each work). It's just aimed at showing our restlessness and feeling disturbed," Khaeruddin said.

The works also reflects an innocence lost through Khaeruddin's longing for his childhood.

One of the works are Ndongeng (Telling Story), an image with a child-like style, where people and animals are forming a circle.

"I really miss the storytelling tradition which now seems to have disappeared. While the stories told have good moral lessons. Kids today watch too much TV and play computer games," he said.

"They don't know traditional games anymore, like jelangkung for instance."

Fragmen Imajinasi graphic art exhibition, until June 30; Exhibition room British Council, S. Widjojo Center 1st Fl., Jl. Jend. Sudirman No. 71; Tel. (021) 2524115;