strategies towards the real - contemporary indonesian art, ... not only traditional paintings were...
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July 2008 | NUS Museum newsletter | 1
1 Strategies Towards the Real
3 The Blacksmiths Alchemy
5 Printmaking in Art
6 Artist Residency & Exchange Programme
8 Julianas Reflections
9 Our Art Guiding Course @ NUS Museum
10 Snapshots 12 Upcoming Exhibitions & Events
Lim Nam Leng
Foo Su Ling
Mag Thatcher Chua
n e w s l e t t e r . i s s u e 3 . j u l y 2 0 0 8
Strategies Towards the Real Shalina Latiff Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Year 2 Secretary, Southeast Asian Studies Society
Realism does not belong solely to the West. Realism is the
common heritage of mankind.
These two lines hit me the hardest while viewing Strategies Towards the Real: S. Sudjojonono
and Contemporary Indonesian Art, an exhibition showcasing works by S. Sudjojono and 14
other Indonesian artists. The exhibition aims to explore the ways in which artists, or even the
common layman, views reality. Sudjojono, often referred to as the father of modern Indonesian
art, was very concerned with the presentation of the real. In his own words, I am Gods child, I
am the child of truth. We are taken on a journey that details how perceptions and attitudes to
the real have evolved over time.
The journey begins with a stark comparison of two pieces by Sudjojono and I Nyoman Masriadi,
a contemporary Indonesian artist. Sudjojonos work, Siip Dalam Segela Cuaca, 1980 (Fit Under
Any Kind of Condition) details the hardiness of Indonesians and their ability to survive under
any condition, while Masriadis work, Uang Segar, 2007 (New Money) shows an entirely
different side to the Indonesian economy. Both are reflective of their time, the economic
conditions faced by Indonesians and even state the artists political stands.
July 2008 | NUS Museum newsletter | 2
This theme is carried on throughout the exhibition. Curator Wang Zineng effectively places complementary pieces side by side such
that they provide a self-contained commentary for visitors. This is particularly evident in two pieces entitled Maka Lahirlah Angkatan 66
(So Was Born The 66 Generation) and Maka Lahirlah Angkatan 90an (So Was Born The 90s Generation) by Sudjojono and Agus
Suwage respectively. The latter also shows how influential the work and philosophy of Sudjojono were to contemporary artists.
I particularly enjoyed the wide range of mediums used in the artwork displayed. Not only traditional paintings were compared to the
works of Sudjojono, but forays into sculptures, installation pieces and video content were showcased as well. It was interesting to see
how artists influenced by Sudjojonos work branched out using techniques he himself never experimented with.
The beauty of this exhibition is that one does not have to be an art aficionado to appreciate it. Sudjojono himself believed that art was
something to be enjoyed by the common people. His contributions to Indonesian art have far outlived him.
Viewing Maka Lahirlah Angkatan 66 by S. Sujdjojono. Maka Lahirah Angkatan90an by Agus Suwage, an appropriation of Sudjojonos earlier work, projects a prosperous period for Indonesian artists.
Eko Nugroho s Tahun-tahun Emas (The Golden Years), 2008
S. Teddy D., Gerakan Art Merdeka (Independence Art Movement), 2007
Taring Padi, Festival Memedi Sawah (The Scarecrow Festival 1999), 2008
Abdi Setiawans Asongan, 2008 (above) is Shalinas (extreme right) favourite piece from the exhibition.
July 2008 | NUS Museum newsletter | 3
The Blacksmiths Alchemy Mag Thatcher Chua Mag has been at NUS Centre For the Arts & NUS Museum for over a year, working on special projects. She has an interest in relating the arts and culture to ways of understanding the world and human nature.
Iron Man was recently released in Singapore, to the delight of Marvel Comics followers. True to his comic book identity
and reputation as an MIT graduate at 17, Tony Stark or his alter ego, Iron Man, exhibited inventiveness and ingenuity.
He creates an armour suit granting him near-invincibility, devises technological improvements, and escapes wily villains.
With the setting of the Vietnam War in the early years of the comic fast forwarded 40 years to the fear of terrorism
presented in the film version, Iron Man of course eventually saves citizens on earth from terror and destruction.
A great interpretive point into the history of ferrous metallurgy and the properties of iron, Iron Man reflects the origins of
iron in the creation of weapons for wars since ancient Egypt, the inventiveness of man in ironworking in the Iron Age,
and its use by historians and archeologists to uncover the rhythm of social life in the civilizations of India, China and
Around the time that Iron Man was released, The Blacksmiths Alchemy wrought its way into Singapore, received by a
somewhat similar whirl of excitement. The driving interest of the exhibition, at a personal level, hinges on an individuals
inquiry in the style and material of iron sculpture construction, setting into motion the capacity for three younger
contemporaries of Julio Gonzalez to express their sculptural interests in abstraction, the Guanche culture and the urban
city, through iron and other metals. Through their explorations, we have a glimpse of their influences and aesthetic
sensibilities, and hints of sociopolitical concerns in the years under Franco and Spains transition to democracy with the
attendant shifts in urban life and social norms.
For a few months in Singapore, my attention is drawn by cultural forms calling for prominence of a humble metal
originating from the earth, which in doing so, reinstates mans inventiveness in experimenting and creating works which
are ingenious in form, purpose and aesthetics.
July 2008 | NUS Museum newsletter | 4
Openings at NUS Museum
L-R: Karen Lim, Jaime Morate from SEACEX and Juan Bria, Director of Internal Affairs, Valencian Institute of Modern Arts, IVAM
L-R: Chia Lay Yong, Foo Su Ling, Assoc Prof John Miksic and Helen Reid.
L-R: Yeow Ju Li, Karen Lim, Ahmad Mashadi, Mrs Jara, HE Antonio Snchez Jara, Ambassador of Spain, Christine Khor and Miriam Padilla
Guest of honour Mr Kwee Liong Keng (in red tie) is flanked on his right by Sudjojono widow Rose, Ms Christine Khor, Maya (Rose and Sudjojonos daughter), and curator Wang Zineng.
July 2008 | NUS Museum newsletter | 5
Printmaking in Art Joan Yap Joan Yap is a retired corporate executive. Since her retirement, she has been involved actively in the arts. She wrote stories such as The Nanyang Artists of Singapore and The Nyona Kebaya for the Friends of the Museum and contemporary art features for lifestyle magazines. As a trained docent for the Singapore Tyler Print Institute, she has guided art tours for the past two years. To many people, the term print is associated with large quantity commercial reproduction of original material such as paintings and manuscripts into posters and books. Yet printing is very different from printmaking in that the former makes copies of an original and the latter makes original copies. Printmaking has a long history dating to cave art but it was with the invention of paper by the Chinese about 2,000 years ago that messages and pictures can printed on a durable medium. However it was only in 15th century when European printing presses were introduced that printmaking was applied as an art form. Prior to that, printmaking was used as a communication tool to spread information to the masses. NUS Museum Prints Now on Show Lim Mu Hue Backstage of a Puppet Theatre Woodblock Print on Paper See Cheen Tee Matchmaker Wookdblock Print on Paper
Sulaiman Esa Waiting for Godot (Red) Photoetching on Paper
There are four principal printmaking techniques relief, intaglio, silkscreen and lithography. In relief printing, the surface of a wooden or linoleum plate is cut away to reveal only the areas to be printed. Ink is then rolled on the surface and the image transferred onto paper either by passing the block through a press or rubbing it by hand or with a spoon. Relief prints are characterized by bold dark-light contrasts. An example of relief printing is the imperial seal of the first Chinese emperor which was a relief made on a jade stone. The famous 17th Century Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints were also produced using the relief printing technique. Intaglio comes from the Italian word intagliare, meaning to incise. The image to be printed is cut into a metal plate (copper or zinc) using a sharp tool (engraving) and acid (etching). Ink is then wiped into the incised grooves of the plate. A dampened piece of paper is placed over the plate and run through an etching press to produce the print. An easy way to tell an intaglio print is to look for the distinctive platemark on the paper. The European art masters from the 15th to 18th Centuries such as Drer, Rembrandt and Goya were prolific printmakers, especially fond of producing intaglio prints. Silkscreen printing is essentially a stencil process. A fabric mesh (screen) stretched over