The Jakarta Post
Spread your wings: Visitors take in the “Angel Sing” installation by Jenry Pasassan at Bentara Budaya Jakarta in Palmerah, West Jakarta. (The Jakarta Post/Gyanindra Ali)
Seventeen years before artist Banksy shredded his Girl with Balloon painting at Sotheby's, there was Ali Wangladi, a 73-year-old painter from Makassar in South Sulawesi who burned dozens of his paintings at the end of an art exhibition in his hometown.
“The act of burning his paintings signified his concerns about the lack of art appreciation in South Sulawesi,” said Frans Sartono, the program director of the Bentara Budaya Jakarta cultural center.
“However, his actions also symbolized the burning spirit to keep on creating art in any condition,” he added.
Ali’s audacious act inspired Bentara Budaya Jakarta to hold an exhibition to show that the spirit of Sulawesi artists is still burning bright.
“Sulawesi Pa’rasanganta (Sulawesi, My Hometown) exhibition feature 24 paintings and three installations that will be displayed at Bentara Budaya in Palmerah, West Jakarta, until Jan. 19. The works reflect the thoughts and feelings of 24 South Sulawesi artists about their hometown.
“Some artworks are about their everyday lives. While some chose to share their inner thoughts,” said Anwar “Jimpe” Rachman, the exhibition’s curator.
One particular painting, My Greatest Indonesian of All, by Muhammad Suyudi stole the limelight. Suyudi painted his father using an old sewing machine with depth and meticulous detail. The corner of the painting shows an opened window overlooking the Great Wall of China, which symbolizes the fluid meaning of a hometown.
“If I say I am in my hometown, it doesn’t always mean that I am in Sulawesi,” the young painter said. “As quoted by Sandy Cheeks of SpongeBob SquarePants fame: ‘Home is not where your house is, but it is where you are surrounded by the people that you love’.”
Meanwhile, artist Sys Paindow presented his lively imagination in a painting titled Pa’manuk Londong come out from Tongkonan (Roosters come out from Torajan traditional house).
The surrealist painting shows two rooster carvings, typically featured on the houses of the Toraja tribe in South Sulawesi, coming alive and engaging in a gruesome fight. The painting is flanked by two smaller Toraja-themed ones.
“Cockfighting is considered a cultural tradition and ritual in the land of the Toraja,” Sys said, adding that his work took inspiration from Pabbite Jangang by veteran Makassar painter Marthen Pattilima.
Jenry Pasassan shows the human race’s formidability and adaptability in the face of changes in his Angel Sing installation, while AH Rimba presents a self-portrait titled Toraja Smiling, expressing his triumph over numerous challenges he faced throughout his life.
The exhibit also features the work of Faisal Syarif, Lenny Ratnasari Weichert, Marledy Kadang, Budi Haryawan and Inno Angga, among others.
Sulawesi Pa’rasanganta is the second Bentara Budaya Jakarta event that showcases South Sulawesi’s talents. Back in August 2003, Bentara Budaya hosted an exhibition that shone the spotlight on the works of 45 Makassar artists, such as Azis Bustaman, Mike Turusy and Zaenal Beta.
The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post.
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