Jakarta. An aura of excitement can be felt in Jakarta these days. Besides preparing to celebrate Independence Day, the capital city is also getting ready to host the 2018 Asian Games very soon.
To celebrate these two important occasions, Plaza Indonesia shopping mall presents an art exhibition themed "Energi Seni" ("Art Energy").
"Art is not only about beauty. More importantly, art is about energy that evokes memories and strong emotions in viewers. Art also energizes us with feelings of love and a new hope," Zamri Mamat, general manager marketing of Plaza Indonesia, said during the exhibition's launch on Monday (13/08).
Last year, the mall held a similar exhibition to celebrate Indonesia's independence, themed "Menjadi Indonesia" ("Becoming Indonesia").
"Becoming Indonesia is actually a theme that will never end," said Dr. Suwarno Wisetrotomo, lecturer at the Indonesian Institute of Arts in Yogyakarta and curator of both exhibitions.
"We need a lot of energy in becoming Indonesia. And I believe, the biggest, as well as the most underestimated source of energy is art. Through art comes mutual understanding and tolerance, which are very needed for this country to grow and become strong."
This year's exhibition, which runs until Sunday (19/08), presents 40 works by 18 Indonesian artists of different backgrounds and age groups.
Among them are famous names such as Djoko Pekik, Butet Kertaradjasa, Heri Dono and Ong Hari Wahyu.
Spirit of the Asian Games
The exhibition opened with an art performance by Bambang Heras and Helda Yosiana.
"Indonesia is losing its spirit of togetherness. But thankfully, the Asian Games has revived it among us. I'm also trying to capture the spirit in our performance today," Bambang said.
During the show, Helda stood inside an illuminated cubicle made of plain white fabric. As she was slowly dancing to rhythmic instrumental music, Bambang quickly painted her shadows cast on the fabric.
Djoko Pekik, the most senior artist participating in the exhibition, presents an oil painting titled "Ditunggu Tambal Ban" ("Tire Repair Shop Is Waiting").
"I was imagining that the Asian Games, especially its cycling races, were taking place on the hills and beaches of Yogyakarta," the 82-year-old painter said.
"In my imagination, villagers got so excited and wanted to help the bikers by setting up tire repair shops along the route."
Agus Kama Loedin presents a rather somber art installation, "Riwayatku Dulu" ("Old Legend").
Made of copper and aluminum, the installation resembles a broken badminton racket and shuttlecock.
"Indonesia used to win in almost every badminton championship. It was a thing in the past. I really hope our badminton players can become champions in this Asian Games," the 56-year-old artist said.
Masagoeng captures the energy of a traditional bull race in Padang, West Sumatra, in two "Pacu Jawi" oil paintings.
"It's a traditional extreme sport that few people know of," the Purwokerto-born artist said. "The race is usually performed in treacherous knee-deep muddy fields, which often cause lethal injuries to the riders. Strength, agility and bravery are needed to survive and win."
Spirit of Togetherness
Afdhal, an artist from Dumai, Riau, presents a large acrylic-on-canvas painting of national hero Gen. Sudirman.
"I believe the late general, with his heroic selfless deeds, can be a role-model for many of us, especially in today's chaotic political situation," the 37-year-old artist said.
On the 1.3 x 3-meter painting, the tall and lean general is standing alone on a shore. His lighted figure seems to be like a beacon that leads a struggling small boat in the ocean to safety.
A unique artwork is a sofa adorned with colorful prints of cartoonish drawings and uplifting messages.
The installation is a collaboration between father and son, Umbu and Rato Tanggela.
"We believe that the best source of energy is family. At the end of the day, when we return home from our activities and meet with our loved ones, we'll feel recharged. And, we believe, sofa is a perfect symbol for home and family," Rato said.
Erica Hestu Wahyuni presents a cheerful acrylic painting titled "Cultural Diversity of Indonesia."
In the painting, which fills the entire canvas and its wooden frame, the Yogyakarta-based artist portrays Indonesian people rejoicing in their traditional costumes.
"I believe the cultural diversity of Indonesia is the real energy behind the country. It's what makes us unique, strong and unbeatable," she said.