Paper Edition | Page: 8
An open yard around the house.
At the end of Kembaran Village in southern Yogyakarta, a long trail is less traveled, hidden among the bamboo trees.
Those not in the know might think that it leads to a large Chinese graveyard. The path stops at a wooden gate bearing the name “Kyai Gleger-Kyai Lampor”, something that sounds eerie to local ears.
But after entering the gate, it would become clear to you that the area is a compound of houses surrounded by trees along the Bedog River. This is the residence of prominent painter Djoko Pekik.
Popular for his masterpiece, Indonesia Berburu Celeng Tahun 1998 (Indonesia Hunts for Wild Boars in 1998), which was sold for Rp 1 billion (US$105,263), the 75-year-old artist has made the place his retreat, where nature inspires his imagination.
Djoko Pekik in his favorite painting studio by Bedog River.
Pekik admitted that his house, built on three hectares of land, is usually thought by others as a graveyard.
“My guests who have never been here hesitate at the gate. Is this Djoko Pekik’s house? Because the gate’s titled ‘Kyai Gleger-Kyai Lampor’”, he told The Jakarta Post.
Kyai Gleger-Kyai Lampor are the names of his two gamelan, which are housed in the right and the left sides of the main house. His fellow artists and neighbors often come to play and the performances used to be aired by the local state-owned radio station, RRI Yogyakarta.
A gamelan house
The houses for the gamelan are simple, with glass walls so that people can see performances from outside.
The main house is a three-story building which also functions as a gallery. The first floor is the gallery, while the second floor is his home. The top floor is a multifunction area.
The 12-by-20-meter wide structure is square and painted green. Many of his friends call it a tasteless castle with no artistic touches or something that looks like a prison.
Their comments do not disappoint Pekik. He said it is true that the house was not planned on paper.
The gallery in the main house
“All the building structures were painted inside my head. I walked through the images. But it does not mean that it is not well calculated. All buildings here are earthquake-resistant and live with nature,” said Pekik, who was born in Purwodadi, Central Java.
The design follows the patterns of nature. He tries not to disrupt the original landscape of the area and does not chop down trees.
The main house
Bamboo and melinjo trees surround the buildings. Near the kitchen of the main house, there is a large tree growing alongside the house structure. There is a hole in the structrure to give a way for the tree to grow.
Pekik, who was once imprisoned for his alleged involvement with the defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), also respects animals. He lets hundreds of chickens, geese, goats, dogs and cats live around his house.
“I don’t want to kill anything at this house, even it’s only a chicken. If you want to eat a chicken, just go and buy it outside of this house,” he said.
The garage near the main house
When there was a four-meter-long reticulated python, locally known as ular sowo kembang, in his warehouse, he just let it be. According to him, there have been five times that he found big snakes in there, sometimes venomous ones, like the ular weling, or Malayan krait.
He proved that humans can live side by side with nature. He made two houses for guests, comfortable enough to rest and work. Some cultural events were held here, such as the Ngayogyajazz Festival and the Bedok River Festival.
Pekik has a favorite place to paint. He built a small air-conditioned settlement by the river overlooking the sparkling flowing water. It is also equipped with various kinds of lighting, an electric hanging canvas and a complete set of painting tools.
There, inside a small retreat at the outskirts of a sleepless metropolis, he strokes his thousand-dollar painting.