A media practitioner for over 10 years in both TV and print.
The mysterious figure stood still and ominous under the bridge, like an omen or a harbinger of some momentous event. Standing across an ocean of cobblestoned streets, he seemed to come inexorably nearer to his viewer as he did to Peny Pujiati, the artist who deftly conjured him from the tip of her pen in the drawing Kafka and the Cats.
“At the end of the bridge, a man in a Kafkaesque cape walked nearer [to us], and we made our way to an inn with a cafe as fast as we can,” said Peny in a verse accompanying the work. “Facing us was a building with many holes in its walls. Dozens of kittens surged out of each hole, as if they have been there for awhile.”
Peny’s homage to the Czech literary giant -- captured by her stream of consciousness words and imagery -- is one of dozens of sketches featured in the exhibition “Biroe - Gambar dan Cerita oleh Peny Pujiati” (Blue - Pictures and Stories by Peny Pujiati). Held at Ruang Seduh cafe in Kemang, South Jakarta, the pictures provide a glimpse into the Trisakti University alumnus’ vibrant subconscious.
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“[The sketches in] Biroe are the visualization of my dreams, which I then convey in these illustrations. Sharing your dreams is not always a useless activity, as inspirations and new experiences can be found in dreamscapes instead of the real world,” explained Peny in a catalogue of her sketches. “The subconscious is a place of endless adventure. Dreams are not just visual compilations of images that we previously saw; they also provide glimpses of the things that we will see.”
Many of Peny’s works in Biroe, such as Apa Kabar Kalian Disana (How Are You All Doing There), show a naive, childlike view of the subconscious that belies her profound feelings and thoughts. “The souls of deceased animals will go to heaven. They head there by going over a rainbow bridge before they take a balloon of memories to an eternal place. I hope you are all happy there,” Peny poignantly said of the pen sketch that alluded to her love of animals.
Her work Wanita Penghibur di Ruang Hitam (Courtesans in a Black Room), shows a jaded view of the world in spite of the sensual imagery. “A striking scent of flowers suddenly wafted across the room, making some [of the geishas] weep for some reason,” Peny noted. “I knew in my heart and my mind that I could not take the food they were serving. I was also caught up in their grief, without realizing that I had become one of them.”
On the other hand, the formidable subject in Ginger Bread Lady shows the power of memories and one’s will to move on. “[Ginger Bread Lady] took a photo album from a pile of books next to her and showed its contents to us. ‘Do you want to buy it’, she asked of the album containing the weddings of our friends as well as our own, which were cut into clippings and collage,” she subconsciously observed. “But [my husband] Mikael only got a two euro keychain and left wondering about how she got those photos.”
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Other works, like Paris and Budapest, highlight Peny’s love of travel. Evoking the iconic sights and sounds of both European metropolises, one can imagine taking in sights like the Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower, as well as savoring local delicacies like goulash, Hungary’s national dish. All of the sketches show Peny’s mastery of pen sketches, which are similar to calligraphy in their single strokes that cannot be erased once drawn.
While this range of work recalls her sharp eye for the subconscious and real worlds, they are prompted by practical needs, as well as outlets for her imagination. “My drawings are a form of therapy, as they keep me from constantly looking at a cell phone screen. I could not do so on a constant basis, as it would give me a headache,” Peny said of the sketches, which have been honed by her work as a professional photographer.
“But most of all, I hope the drawings can make my viewers realize that there is more to the world than what they see on their smartphones or the internet”. (kes)
Exhibition title: Biroe: Gambar Dan Cerita by Peny Pujiati
When: Until March 6
Where: Ruang Seduh, Jl. Kemang Raya No. 8B
A media practitioner for over 10 years in both TV and print. Tunggul Wirajuda found a niche in the latter, particularly as a features writer. He often writes about visual or performing arts, but just is at home in writing about automotive, culinary and film, among other things. He can be contacted at [email protected]
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