Dr. Suwarno Wisetrotomo (center, front), Zamri Mamat (far right, front) and some of the 'Menjadi Indonesia' artists pose together. (Photo courtesy of Magnifique PR)

Artists Convey Hopes and Fears Over Nation's Course in 'Becoming Indonesia'

BY :SYLVIANA HAMDANI

AUGUST 20, 2017

Jakarta. Celebrating this year's independence anniversary, the Plaza Indonesia shopping mall hosts an art exhibition themed "Menjadi Indonesia," or "Becoming Indonesia."

It is the first fine arts exhibition held by the upscale shopping mall.

"With this exhibition, Plaza Indonesia wants to provide a platform for Indonesia's renowned and up-and-coming artists in expressing their views on the nation and sparking the spirit of patriotism," Plaza Indonesia general manager Zamri Mamat said in a press conference at the mall on Wednesday (16/08).

Senior art critic and lecturer at the Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI) Yogyakarta, Dr. Suwarno Wisetrotomo, has been appointed as the curator of the exhibition.

Suwarno has selected 69 artworks, mainly paintings and sculptures, by 45 Indonesian artists from many different backgrounds and age groups.

"Some of these artists have experienced the ups and downs of the Republic. Some of them are very young. It's interesting to see how through their works they communicate their optimism, hopes and fears for the nation," Suwarno said.

Djoko Pekik, the most senior artist featured at the exhibition, presents a painting titled "Holobis Kuntul Baris," which in Javanese means "working together to achieve a common goal."

The realist-expressionist oil painting of the 79-year-old artist shows joyful celebrations of Indonesia's Independence Day at the northern square of the Yogyakarta Palace.

"The painting seems to depict people's happiness and satisfaction with the current government," the curator said.

Award-winning artist Heri Dono presents his newest painting, "Konflik di Era Peradaban Anti Kekerasan" ("Conflicts in the Times of Nonviolence").

The acrylic on canvas portrays a six-eyed monster holding various weapons in his four hands.

"The painting highlights the horrifying fact of the ever more present violence in our society. I believe it happens because there's pent-up anger and weak law enforcement in our country," the 57-year-old artist said.

The youngest artist, Triana Nurmaria, presents a rather bleak outlook in her painting "Motherland."

The acrylic on canvas of the 22-year-old artist shows a gray female figure lying face down on the ground, as if crushed by a huge unseen burden.

Renowned abstract-expressionist Nasirun showcases his latest work, "Jas Merah" ("Red Jacket"). The oil painting portrays the iconic military jacket of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, splashed with red.

"This painting is my message to all of us, especially the younger generation," the 52-year-old said. "We should never forget that Indonesia's independence was achieved with blood and tears. We should really appreciate it and work hard together toward strengthening our nation."

"Jas Merah" is also an acronym created by Sukarno, which stands for "jangan sekali-kali melupakan sejarah" ("don't ever forget the history").

"We hope with this exhibition the artists' messages will reach a wider public and encourage more appreciation for Indonesian art," Zamri said.

The exhibition is open until Aug. 27.

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