Mon, 11 Sep 2000

Islamic art show draws visitors

JAKARTA (JP): An ongoing exhibition of Islamic paintings and photography at Istiqlal Museum at the Indonesia in Miniature Park (TMII) in East Jakarta offers more than just the usual calligraphy and photographs of praying people.

The exhibition not only displays 150 items created by students and teachers of the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) in Yogyakarta, but also many collectible pieces which will attract even those who do not read Arabic.

The exhibition will last until Sept. 13.

A teak wood sculpture titled Doa Dalam Kesedihan (A Prayer in Sadness), created by an ISI student, is among many objects which is attracting visitors to the exhibition.

The piece, which is for sale at Rp 2 million (US$235), portrays a caged figure with a bizarre face meticulously crafted on a 93 centimeters by 85 cms teak board.

"This piece is even qualified to be displayed at an international exhibition... It's such a remarkable piece of craftsmanship," head of the exhibition division of the museum Arsono told The Jakarta Post at the gallery on Saturday.

Arsono is also the artist who handled the restoration work on the Hermes (the Greek god of commerce, eloquence, invention, travel, theft) statue at the busy Harmoni bridge in Central Jakarta last month.

The exhibition was opened on Saturday with an eerie performance by students from the ISI School of Performing Arts, using various percussion instruments.

An amusing work, titled Permen Untuk Rakyat (Candies for the People), displays a variety of items that are wrapped like candies and surrounded by pictures of faces in despair.

"The artist demands justice in this piece. Candies are usually sweet but these are not," Arsono said of the piece.

Among the small wrapped objects are corroded nails, a few rice seeds, a used bandage tainted with blood, a piece of plastic sheeting shaped as a heart, a Rp 100 coin, a broken pencil, and a bird feather.

"These young artists are very creative, which owe a lot to their place in Yogyakarta where creativity has been a tradition," Arsono said.

A mind-boggling painting titled Peran Sesaat (Role In A Moment) shows Kresna, a figure in the Mahabharata epic, being torn apart and in tears with his famous weapon, Cakra (in Sanskrit means time), melting on his side.

Other paintings, which are of a more amusing nature, have titles such as Pasukan Badut Siap Tempur (Army Clowns Ready For Battle), Saat Di Mana Tidak Ada Perbedaan (The Time Where There Is No Difference), and Otak-Otak Perang (The Battling Brains).

The works are being sold between Rp 900,000 to Rp 90 million.

A Rp 70 million painting by a senior painter titled Perspektif Ibu Dan Anak (The Perspective of Mother and Children) particularly interested visitors at the exhibition.

The somber painting, created by Effendi, shows a woman holding a little girl and an infant. The woman's face is only a bunch of clouds in the sky. Next to her head is a floating mask of a goddess and a skeletal hand reaching for a cellular phone which is lying on the ground.

Head of the organizing committee Arruman said the money raised would be used to fund the building of a mosque at their ISI campus.

Arruman said they chose the museum as the venue for their exhibition because they could use the place for free.

"But there is an agreement between us and the museum's management that they would get 10 percent of the revenue from the sales," Arruman added.

The museum is open to the public every day with entrance tickets costing Rp 1,000 for adults and Rp 500 for children.

The museum contains thousands of Islamic art pieces including paintings, photographs, historical fabrics and manuscripts.

"On average, there are 100 people who visit the museum everyday," director of the museum Subandi told the Post.

However, a staff member at the museum who requested anonymity said that the number of visitors had dropped over the last two months. (jaw)