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'Hey Djon' highlights S. Sudjojono's poems

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sat, December 15, 2018  /  09:14 am
'Hey Djon' highlights S. Sudjojono's poems

Collaborative performance: Sapardi Djoko Damono performs in “Hey Djon: When Poetry Meets Music” at Vin+ Kemang in South Jakarta on Friday. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)

Sindoedarsono Sudjojono, known as S. Sudjojono, has been recognized as the maestro behind the 1973 painting of The Battle of Sultan Agung and Jan Pieterszoon Coen. A little known fact about the late artist is that he was also a poet.

S. Sudjojono wrote more than 30 poems, several of which were written for his wife and source of inspiration, classical mezzo-soprano singer Rosalina Poppeck, aka Rose Pandanwangi, whom he married in 1959.

“When I was little, I often saw my father writing on his paintings — it’s just like a diary,” Maya, one of the couple’s daughters told The Jakarta Post prior to the special performance event called “Hey Djon: When Poetry Meets Music” at Vin+ Kemang in South Jakarta on Dec. 14. “Sometimes he wrote in his sketches and even used calendars,” she added.

Two of his poems, “Harum” (Fragrant) and “Mijn Bruid en Mijn Koningin” (My Bride and Queen), taken from his painting My Queen, were recited by celebrated poet Sapardi Djoko Damono during the performance.

Taken from the artist’s nickname Djon used by his family and close friends, “Hey Djon” aimed to extend S. Sudjojono’s love of art to younger generations. The event featured a combination of poetry reading, music and video mapping simultaneously, which encouraged the audience to enjoy the calm atmosphere by getting in touch with their senses during the 90-minute performance. 

All lights were dimmed as the show began at 7:35 p.m. The stage was positioned on one side of the venue with a rectangular screen placed in front of it for video mapping. 

The Portofolio Band opened the event from behind the screen, creating a shadowy illusion as the video mapping started. The performance, accompanied by an audio mix of birds chirping and thunderstorms, was aimed at creating an emotional dynamic. 

The dimmed light and the sounds from the performance infused various feelings and managed to engulf the audience in the soul of Djon’s poems.

Read also: Sudjojono's sketchbook unveiled in Singapore

Aside from Sapardi and Portofolio, the event also featured other guests, namely dancer and poet Putri Minangsari, musician Masget, poet Araa2124 and visual mapper Mantratattva. Performing behind the screen, the young artists were selected based on their unique art presentations. 

Sapardi praised the event for displaying a hybrid representation of several art forms. “Since the beginning, I also saw S. Sudjojono’s paintings to be unique as they have poems and writings [on them],” Sapardi said minutes before the performance.

“Hey Djon” was held by the S. Sudjojono Center (SSC), an organization founded by S. Sudjojono’s family and fans to preserve arts as a whole in Indonesia. The Sudjojono family has been known to hold exhibitions that are mostly attended by seasoned art enthusiasts, hence “Hey Djon” was seen as a fresh way to reach the younger generations.

As head of the organization, Maya said she was glad her father decided to write poems, especially because they are said to give a deeper feeling to the readers. “The young generation also tends to read poems nowadays and it’s a perfect combination,” said Maya.

“Hey Djon” was set as the teaser of a series of events that are to be held in 2019. The next events are scheduled to be held in January, July and December.

Born in North Sumatra in 1913, S. Sudjojono has been dubbed the father of modern painting in Indonesia who often captured the problems and daily lives of Indonesians in his paintings. His autobiography, S. Sudjojono: Cerita tentang Saya dan Orang-orang Sekitar Saya (Story about Me and People around Me), was published in 2017 in Jakarta at the same time as Rose’s autobiography Kisah Mawar Pandanwangi (Story of Rose’s Pandanwangi).

Read also: Djon and Rose, a love story

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