The Jakarta Post
World artist Sri Astari Rasjid pays homage to all mothers in a retrospective to be held in Yogyakarta from Feb. 27 to March 5.
Titled 'Yang Terhormat Ibu' (Dear Mother), the exhibition at the Koesnadi Hardjasoemantri Cultural Center (PKKH) in Bulaksumur will showcase Astari's works representing her 26-year journey as an artist.
At least eight paintings 'some borrowed from the collectors of her works ' will be displayed side-by-side with her latest artistic ventures: four photos, seven sculptures and nine works of installation art, including one featuring china made by Astari.
Among the sculptures is a 1.5-meter kebaya made of steel and decorated with a bronze butterfly. Armor for Change was displayed at the entrance of Singapore Art Week in January.
'I'm still finishing four paintings for the exhibition. Let's see if I can make them in time,' Astari told a media briefing in Jakarta, adding that most of the installation pieces would be assembled on location.
A contemporary artist since the early 1990s, Astari, a trained fashion designer, said the exhibition would be a tribute to her mother, whom she decribed as a dominant factor in her life.
'It is also a tribute to Mother Nature, our motherland, the goddesses in Javanese myth and legend, all mothers and even to my daughter who has become a mother herself.'
Curator Adi Wicaksono explained that the theme was chosen as it reflected the artist's thoughts and contemplation of life.
'Astari is a Javanese woman who adheres to Javanese culture even though she spent much of her childhood abroad. In the culture she lives by, the concept of mother symbolizes the womb, where the power of creation lies.'
In her works, Astari uses many symbols close to Javanese culture that embody the feminine and masculine sides of a woman.
Her varying phases of thought are manifest in the works, beginning with her initial questioning of the women's traditionally subservient role in Javanese culture to the stage where she concluded that the competition between masculinity and feminism was no longer an issue for her.
Art critic Carla Bianpoen said Astari's works were strongly rooted in Javanese culture. 'She looks at traditions from a modern perspective. Instead of pushing it away, she gives value to it, without losing her sense of humor,' Carla said.
Astari, who has also ventured into performance art, will set up a dance performance as part of one of the installations ' a joglo (verandah) decorated with nine wooden puppets.
The contemporary dance titled Garba (Womb) created by choreographer Retno Sulistiarini was inspired by the Javanese sacred dance Bedhaya.
The exhibition will be opened by the Yogyakarta sultan's wife, GKR Hemas. Other fringe events include a charity night by the Children with Asthma Foundation, an NGO chaired by Ike Nirwan Bakrie, Javanese poetry reading and shadow puppet play by master Ki Seno Nugroho.
The newly appointed ambassador to Bulgaria will leave for her post, which also includes Albania and Macedonia, a few days after the exhibition.
'It's not a farewell exhibition because I will focus on soft diplomacy in those countries, putting on cultural events that in turn will bring in trade and investment.'