Thu, 03 Apr 2003

Iraq war sets Tintin's canvas ablaze

Yusuf Susilo Hartono, Contributor, Jakarta

The ongoing U.S.-led aggression against Iraq has sent jitters across the world. Through the footage of Al-Jazeera television station, we in Indonesia can directly witness the drama enacted by those who claim to be champions of human rights.

In Indonesia, people have responded in different ways. Mass rallies have been staged in front of the U.S. and British Embassies. Effigies of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair as well as the U.S. and British flags have been burnt while posters and banners voicing protests against the war have been displayed.

Street theater has expressed the protesters opposition to the war and prayers for the Iraqi people have been held in many places.

Taking part in this show of solidarity is a woman artist Tintin S. AR, a graduate of Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) school of fine arts.

Through her canvas, using acrylic as the medium, she expresses her sorrow and anger over the war, with one painting titled Kota Membara (City Ablaze). The painting, along with 40 other abstract paintings based on nature and religiosity, are currently on exhibit at Bank Bukopin in Kebon Sirih, Central Jakarta.

Still, Blazing City is different from the other paintings on display, particularly in terms of color and emotion as shown in the lines.

In this particular work, Tintin has made use of the interplay of red and black. The red color looks just like the fire gulping the rubble that remains of the buildings in Baghdad. Traces of the pallet knife and the paint brush represent the screams of the victims of war. Amid these colors and lines, Tintin accentuates the painting with several golden dots, which, instead of representing the stars in the sky, symbolize the cruise missiles dancing in the night sky in pursuit of their targets.

Some of the visitors to the exhibit' opening night looked contemplative and took a deep breath upon seeing this picture. Perhaps they were saying a prayer in their hearts, hoping the invasion into the Land of 1001 Nights would end soon.

Tintin is not a new face in Indonesia's fine arts world. She may be less popular than Astari Rasyid, Arahmaiani, Bunga Jeruk or Lucia Hartini, but, Tintin, who is from Bandung, has been painting since she was a senior high school student some 33 years ago.

Prior to favoring abstract expression, she tried many other styles, among others, realism and naturalism. She had picked up this abstract style due to the influence of her lecturers at ITB, particularly the late Achmad Sadali and Srihadi Soedarsono.

Tintin's ongoing solo exhibition is her fifth. The first was held in 1995 although she has taken part in over 50 joint exhibitions here and abroad since 1973. Some of the most important exhibitions she has taken part in were the 6th Asian International Art Exhibition at Tagawa Art Museum, Japan (1991), Coninek Gallery Amersfoot, Holland and Art Gallery in Belgium (1992), and an exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1997).

Her works were also included in a painting auction in Glarum, Singapore in 2002. Tintin also won a prize in the 2002 Indofood Art Awards.

Aside from Blazing City, most of her other works in the present exhibition reflect her incessant exploration of her relationship with her environment. Look at Lembah Cisarua (Cisarua Valley), Kampung Air (Water Village), Pura Bali (Balinese Temple). With clear strokes and contrasting colors (blue, yellow, orange and brown), she presents a panorama in the form of a line of houses, boats, temples, rice fields and clusters of flowers. She has greatly deformed the objects, that she places under the ever- present horizon on her canvas, in such a way that sometimes we can still identify them and at other times get only an impression of these objects. Some of her other works, for example the paintings about the holy Ka'bah, reflect her relationship with religion.

Only Tintin knows why human beings are absent in the works that she has created in the past three years. In her two works on the Ka'bah, there are millions of people moving around the Ka'bah but we only get an impression of figures, which she has depicted in a stretch of white color, drowned by the greatness of the Ka'bah with a mosque and a minaret in the background. In the context of a religious service, a human being is very small before God. However, it is worth querying why human beings must be absent from the houses, boats, the sea, rice fields and villages in her paintings. Nevertheless, in her daily life, Tintin loves people. She has a lot of friends and acquaintances. Just like the rest of us, she loves peace, not war!


The exhibition is held at the lobby of Bank Bukopin, Jl. Kebon Sirih No. 12, Central Jakarta. Tel: 021-380 1291. It runs from March 28 to April 8 2003.