Thu, 26 Oct 2000

Journalists experiment with colors in paintings

By Mehru Jaffer

JAKARTA (JP): After having thrashed the work of many an artist in the past, six journalists have displayed their own paintings at Gallery Sriyanto.

Totally unfazed at the thought of being on the receiving end this time, Pavan Kapoor, an arts contributor for The Jakarta Post said that she felt on top of the world at having been given the opportunity to exhibit her own works for a change instead of looking at the paintings of other artists.

She has more than one reason to be pleased as the inaugural day of the exhibition found red ribbons tied to many of her works telling visitors that the paintings had already been sold.

Still erratic in style, the best of Pavan's works are those inspired by Rajasthan, the desert province of her native India, especially the women there who live under difficult conditions but seem to be forever smiling and are always dressed in bright colors of red, green and yellow.

Pavan adds to all the color and optimism by collaging her canvass with mirror work and shining, chunky jewelry from real life. The organizers at the art gallery explained that the idea of hosting Journalists in Paintings was to allow writers to come out of the closet and to experience the same agony and ecstasy as professional artists who are panned by journalists from left to right and top to toe for painting the way they do.

Arief Suryobuwono of The Indonesian Observer said that he took to the palette as a teenager but over the years he found himself too preoccupied with other activities to find the time to paint.

His interest dimmed but did not disappear, having resurfaced again after an interval of almost two decades. Although he prefers writing to painting today, after the boost the exhibition has given he plans to dabble as much in paint in the future as he does today in ink.

While his earlier efforts gravitated more towards the realistic depiction of nature, his most recent canvass is a mysterious and abstract symphony in the oceanic colors of different shades of blue and green.

Denny Yuriandi from RCTI indulges himself in the childlike joys of naive painting. Like the folk art of ancient times that used vegetable dyes to paint the walls of huts in the village, Denny uses primary colors and scenes from day to day community life.

Doddy Achmad Fawdzy of Media Indonesia has gone wild with all the colors of the rainbow as he oozes out paint straight from the tube onto the canvas in search of forms. His imagination is obviously on a psychedelic mission that seems to know no bounds.

In contrast to Doddy, Ipung Purnama Sidhi of Kompas's Bentara Budaya prefers to dip his brush in ink reminiscent of the masters of the Asian art of brush painters. Yusuf Susilo Hatono of apparently also has calligraphy on his mind as he includes Chinese characters into his very scriptlike compositions.

What the exhibition may lack in quality it makes up for in the enthusiasm which is available in plenty at the exhibition. Kudos to Gallery Sriyanto for having been brave enough to host the unique exhibition which was inaugurated by theater personality WS Rendra.

An empty canvas was signed by Rendra after he wrote in green ink Here and Forever on it. The inaugural ceremony was flagged off earlier by a theatrical performance that told a short tale of an unexplained trouble after which a death occurred.

As the loved ones of the departed tear their hearts out in sorrow, the escaped soul returns to haunt, and to tragically frighten the mourners away.

Since the performance took place in front of the gallery and also on the street opposite, it was as if art was at last being brought to the people, away from the exclusive confines of air conditioned auditoriums that are inaccessible to the common man.

This is enough reason to celebrate the current event at Gallery Sriyanto which runs until Oct. 31.