The Jakarta Post
A visitor stares at the four-panel 'Lakon Sungu Lembu' artwork in the 'Lakon Sungu Lembu' painting exhibition by Hwang T at Ruang Seduh, Kemang, South Jakarta, on Feb. 7. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)
Those who have read Yusi A. Pareanom’s celebrated book Raden Mandasia: Si Pencuri Daging Sapi (Raden Mandasia the Cow Thief) may rejoice as some have come to life in a painting exhibition entitled “Lakon Sungu Lembu” (The Story of Sungu Lembu).
Set in Ruang Seduh in Kemang, South Jakarta, the exhibition is open to the public for 21 days until Feb. 28.
Curated by Nin “Nindy” Djani, the exhibition has chosen to display the ambience of the book rather than focusing on the characters, such as Raden Mandasia, Sungu Lembu or Loki Tua.
“For those who have or haven't read the book, [it will] liberate their perception,” said Hwang T., the young artist behind all the artworks, during the exhibition’s opening on Wednesday. “Hence there’s no strict [visualization] of how Raden Mandasia and Sungu Lembu look like.”
Some of the artworks displayed in the 'Lakon Sungu Lembu' painting exhibition. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)
The title of the exhibition, “Lakon Sungu Lembu”, also serves a purpose. “We want it to stand alone as an exhibition, so people will understand even if they haven't read the book,” Nindy explained. “If there’s an element of Mandasia, there will be an expectation to be loyal to the book in terms of interpretations.”
Both Nindy and Hwang are said to be fans of the book. Hwang revealed that Raden Mandasia was actually the first Indonesian book that he finished.
“The story isn’t boring, so I already had in mind about the visualization,” Hwang said, adding that it was the adventures in the book that had caught his attention.
In terms of challenges in creating the exhibition, Nindy shared that one of them was when she needed to choose parts of the book that could be visualized without spoiling the content.
Meanwhile, Hwang was nervous as this was his first solo exhibition. “It’s like displaying [my] works and facing the audience – I’m afraid people will not accept this,” said Hwang. “This is also my first time to draw on a large space and use gouache paint.”
The author, Yusi, who also attended the opening, said that Hwang had approached him first before holding the exhibition. “As a writer, there’s a joy if [my] work gets new interpretations,” Yusi smiled, adding that he also allowed other people to interpret his book. “Hopefully he will read other books and make an exhibition that will be curated by Nindy.”
Published in April 2016, Raden Mandasia narrates the journey of Sungu Lembu and Raden Mandasia to Kerajaan Gerbang Agung (Gerbang Agung Kingdom). It was named the winner of the 16th Kusala Sastra Khatulistiwa literary award for the prose category in November 2016. (kes)