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Sculpture maestro Edhi Sunarso dies

  • Sri Wahyuni

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta | Wed, January 6, 2016 | 06:19 pm
Sculpture maestro Edhi Sunarso dies Final farewell: Soldiers carry the coffin of famous sculptor Edhi Sunarso out of Jogja International Hospital in Yogyakarta on Tuesday. Edhi, who made the well-known Welcome Statue (right) in Jakarta, died in Yogyakarta on Monday at the age of 84.(JP/Tarko Sudiarno) (right) in Jakarta, died in Yogyakarta on Monday at the age of 84.(JP/Tarko Sudiarno)

Final farewell: Soldiers carry the coffin of famous sculptor Edhi Sunarso out of Jogja International Hospital in Yogyakarta on Tuesday. Edhi, who made the well-known Welcome Statue (right) in Jakarta, died in Yogyakarta on Monday at the age of 84.(JP/Tarko Sudiarno)

Noted Indonesian sculpture maestro Edhi Sunarso passed away on Monday night aged 84 years at the Jogja International Hospital (JIH), Yogyakarta.

Edhi is survived by six children, two of them adopted and 11 grandchildren. His wife Kustiyati died three years ago.

According to his second daughter Titiana Irawati, Edhi was admitted to the hospital on Thursday night after suffering respiratory problems. She said he was experiencing a relapse of pneumonia.

During his four-day stay at the hospital he also underwent prostate surgery.

'€œThe surgery was successful but his condition worsened. Maybe it was because of his old age,'€ Titiana said at the family'€™s house in Nganti, Mlati district, Sleman regency, Yogyakarta, on Tuesday afternoon, prior to the funeral.

Edhi'€™s body was taken to the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI) Yogyakarta campus for a final homage before it was taken to the Artists Cemetery in Imogiri, Bantul regency, Yogyakarta, for the funeral.

Born in Salatiga, Central Java, on July 2, 1932, Edhi was mostly known for his gigantic, patriotic statues installed in numerous public places across the country. He was a pioneer in expressive, dynamic and hero-like statues.

He was one of first president Sukarno'€™s most-trusted artists who played a significant role in building confidence in the country during the early phase of its independence through works of arts. He later worked on numerous dioramas of Indonesian history for several museums across the country.

Among his monumental masterpieces were the giant Selamat Datang (Welcome) statue at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, the Pembebasan Irian Barat (Liberation of West Irian Jaya) statue in Banteng field and the Pancasila Sakti (Sacred Pancasila) monument, all in Jakarta. Outside the capital, he was also responsible for the Tugu Muda monument in Semarang, the Pahlawan Tak Dikenal (Unknown Hero) monument in Digul (Papua), the General Sudirman monument in Bogor, West Java and the Puputan-Badung War monument in Denpasar.

Many remember the maestro as a figure who enjoyed helping others. '€œHe was not just a teacher for me, but also a father, a friend and a colleague,'€ sculptor Syahrizal Koto said on the sidelines of the funeral ceremony on Tuesday.

Culture and Education Minister Anies Baswedan, who came to Yogyakarta on Tuesday for the funeral, remembered Edhi as a great figure who was also down-to-earth.

'€œHe was a famous figure. Yet, in our neighborhood, he was just like the rest of the community. He joined village meetings. He even allowed the community to use his house as a venue for the meetings,'€ Anies said.

Anies said he lived in the same neighborhood with Edhi on Jl. Kaliurang, Sleman, before Edhi moved to his final house in Nganti. Anies said he and his friends used to use Edhi'€™s vast workshop as a playground when they were boys.

'€œHe let us watch him working in his workshop. That was impressive,'€ he said.

An alumnus of the Indonesian Fine Arts College (ASRI) Yogyakarta (1950-1955) and the Visva Bharati Rabindranath Tagore University Santiniketan, India (1955-1957), Edhi spent almost half of his lifetime as a lecturer at ISI Yogyakarta, which awarded him with the title of Empu Ageng (Great Artist).

His artworks were considered inseparable from the development of modern sculpture in Indonesia. Many even believe that one can learn about the development of the country'€™s modern sculpture simply by viewing his artworks chronologically.

His sculptures particularly influenced modern sculpture in Indonesia during its early development in the 1950s. His influence grew stronger in the 1960s after he was assigned to help establish the sculpture department at ASRI, now ISI Yogyakarta, where he had been a lecturer since 1957.

Edhi was initially accepted only as a guest student at the ASRI in 1949 at the age of 17, after being released from a Dutch colonial prison in 1946 where he had been jailed for joining Indonesian troops fighting against colonial rule.

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