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Exhibition celebrates sketch art

Dylan Amirio

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, September 13, 2018  /  09:16 am
Exhibition celebrates sketch art

Sketch art: Harmoni by Artyan Trihandono is on display at the [Re]Kreasi Garis exhibition at the National Gallery of Indonesia until Sept. 16 (National Gallery of Indonesia/File)

The National Gallery of Indonesia’s latest exhibition is a platform for both undiscovered and prominent artists dealing in the medium of sketching and to celebrate the minimalist aspects that make up a painting as well as it being a standalone piece of art.

The “[Re]Kreasi Garis” exhibition is featuring 234 works from 138 artists, most of whom come from sketch communities — online artists who have not yet had their works showcased on a large scale.

According to the curators, the artists, whose works will be exhibited until Sept. 16 at the gallery’s B and C buildings, celebrated the “economy and the importance of the simple line”, depicted through monuments, landscapes, activities and portraits. Its aim is to show that the sketches define the very soul of artwork due to their crucial role in shaping them.

 “This exhibition will go beyond the typical depiction that sketching is merely a stepping stone towards a more complete piece of work, or spontaneous strokes that only serve to enhance colors or outlines. We want to show that sketching is a medium of visual art in itself as it requires great technique and it has a lot of meaning,” explains curator Beng Rahadian.

 “We hope that this exhibition will make people appreciate the art of sketching on a higher level, from its historical importance to its limitless explorative character,” adds gallery head Pustanto.

Melamun (Daydreaming) by Henk NgantungMelamun (Daydreaming) by Henk Ngantung (National Gallery of Indonesia/File)

The curator noted that the prevalence of sketch art in Indonesia, especially on social media, is massive, but it has yet to receive recognition, especially those who practice it in cities far away from Jakarta, where the local art world seems to base itself.

Both the craft and the talented but unknown artists, who practice it, are given equal footing with works from prominent national artists such as Srihadi Soedarsono, Ipe Ma’aruf, Tedja Suminar, and several others from the gallery’s own collection such as S. Sudjojono, Oesman Effendi, Henk Ngantung and Tohny Joesoef.

For some of the artists, the medium of sketching is one that requires a great amount of focus, as much as one would do in any other forms of visual art. It is a skill and an emotional ability that takes some time to develop, as long as one realizes the focus needed for such works to come alive.

Lembaga Indonesia Amerika (Indonesia America Institute) by S. SudjojonoLembaga Indonesia Amerika (Indonesia America Institute) by S. Sudjojono (National Gallery of Indonesia/File)

“Sketches for me only need the understanding of lines and knowing what to focus on,” says sketch artist Yusuf Susilo Hartono whose works are displayed at the exhibition. “If you want to look at it from journalistic aspect, sketching is like hard news — to the point and not much elaboration, while painting is like writing a features article”.

For him, sketching, rather than painting, is within the muscle memory of all painters and visual artists, as they are used to sketching out the roughs of bigger ideas, making the medium exist in practically all practicing visual artists.

“It took me about five years to truly master drawing lines. I even practiced in the dark and even on a rocking boat,” Yusuf says. “The amount of focus to produce these skeletal lines, and make something meaningful out of it, is massive and should be recognized as such.”