Mon, 22 Dec 2003

Painters long for peaceful elections

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali

Some 100 painters and artists gathered here on Sunday to express hope for a peaceful general election in 2004 by painting on a 100-meter long, seamless white canvas.

"We urge the political elite to maintain a sense of unity and togetherness. The winning parties should embrace the losing ones and work together for the betterment of our country," said the organizing committee's chairman, Zaenal Tayeb.

Organized by the Bali Sidewalk's Artist Community (KSJPB), the event was held in the spacious front yard of Tayeb's boxing gym in the Kuta area. Several noted figures, including Bali Police chief Insp. Gen. Made Mangku Pastika, celebrated painter Nyoman Gunarsa and choreographer Wayan Dibia attended the event.

"I hope the art community will play a greater role in creating a peaceful atmosphere in the run-up to the general election. Hopefully, the message these artists voiced today will reverberate across each and every layer of society," Mangku Pastika said.

A light shower and muddy ground, the result of incessant torrential rain on Saturday night, failed to curb the participants' enthusiasm.

"Great works of art are usually born not under the best of circumstances but in an adverse environment, such as on this muddy ground," Gunarsa noted.

The event also drew hundreds of curious passersby, who were later treated to free bowls of soto ayam (chicken broth) for 1,000 people by the event's organizing committee. A music concert was also staged.

"We will later submit this painting to the Indonesian Museum of Records (MURI) as one of the country's longest paintings," a committee member, Harry T Putra, said.