Thu, 25 May 2000

Widayanto pays homage to love of mother and child

By Mulkan Salmona

JAKARTA (JP): It was a bright Sunday morning for a visit to the unique and shady studio of a noted ceramics artist in Ciganjur, South Jakarta.

F. Widayanto invited a number of journalists and art lovers to view final preparations for his exhibition at the National Gallery from June 6 through June 16.

Ibu dan Anak (Mother and Child) will showcase his most recent works after a two-year hiatus in exhibitions. The artist, known as Yanto, held his last exhibition in 1998 at Plaza Senayan.

He considers the theme to be poignant and universal. Through his ceramic artwork, Yanto explores the genuine maternal feelings and love which enrich the life of children in the world. The theme is also the artist's reflection of his own love for his mother in particular and Mother Nature in general.

"I will display 32 distinguished ceramic pieces in the form of mothers and their babies and toddlers," Yanto said as he showed parts of his collection.

About 17 of the displayed items, priced at between Rp 25 million and Rp 50 million, have been sold to local art collectors. "I need a lot of money to prepare for the next exhibition," he said.

The idea to use the theme Ibu dan Anak was derived from a ceramic work entitled Golekan, Clay Doll, depicting a mother who breastfeed her infant.

Born in Jakarta in 1953, Yanto graduated from the School of Art and Design at the prestigious Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) in West Java in 1980.

It was his inability to find a regular job which led to him plunging into the world of ceramics, considered an uninspiring field by many artists. In 1990 he held his debut exhibition Loro Blonyo, the stepping stone to his successful career.

Following exhibitions such as Ganesha Ganeshi and Ukelan also bolstered his reputation.

His main subjects center on Javanese women, creatures from miscellaneous Javanese mythology and daily life.

In l991, Yanto established a company and an art studio in Tapos, Bogor.

Ceramics expert Hildawati Soemantri, Yanto's senior at ITB, praised Yanto's art for its originality.

"An artist can draw generously and freely with inspiration from various sources," Hildawati once wrote.

Yanto's work stands out because of his extensive knowledge of the basic materials which he buys, processes, adorns and fires himself.

Hildawati added an artist can be influenced by so many factors when molding his material. He may be influenced by the environment, the artist's ideas or from extensive experience in working with clay.

In the coming exhibition, Yanto also will display his advanced ceramic-processing technique of combining ceramics, bronze and other materials.

He searched for ideas in Javanese fairy tales, mythology and the Ramayana epic.

Mother-and-child relations are shown in diverse forms. Timung Rewel (Restless Timung) Yanto is of a crying child. Cah Menthil (Nipping Baby) depicts a mermaid breastfeeding her baby.

Ambung-Ambungan (Kissing and Hugging) illustrates a mother's first lesson of love and affection for her baby. Katresnane si Mbok (Mother's Love) is of a mother enjoying time with her child.

Yen Sumuk, On a Hot Day, portrays a loving mother, a typical Javanese rural mother, takes a fresh air by undressing her dress's buttons.

Almost all of Yanto's mother figures are nude. Some are sensual, but others are weird-looking, fat or funny.

Yanto also uses symbolic forms, such as mermaids and deer.

His newest ceramic works are intriguing in trying to understand more of the ideas behind his creations.