by Tubagus P. Svarajati, a journalist and the founder of YAITU: Art House, now living in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia.
IT WAS Sunday afternoon, June 17th 2007, when two remarkable persons came in. They’re Entang Wiharso, one of the greatest Indonesian artists, and the wellknown poet was Afrizal Malna. They’re accompanied by Christine Cocca, the artist’ wife who is an American, Byron Good and Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good.
Byron and Mary-Jo are husband and wife. Both are professors from Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, USA. Byron is a professor of medical anthropology and Mary-Jo is a professor of social medicine. They are in Indonesia doing researches in Aceh funded by the World Bank. They make friend with Wiharso’s family since 2002. And they want to see the artist’s solo exhibition in Rumah Seni Yaitu. For Byron this is the second visit to the exhibition. He came at the opening of the exhibition on May 25th. But for Mary-Jo this is the first time to enjoy it. The visit was especially arranged for her for she was just coming from USA two days ago. She eagered to watch the whole art works. Both couples admire Wiharso’s art works very much especially the artist’s talent and energy to produce many art works.
Byron told me that he was very lucky to attend the opening night. He enjoyed the atmosphere, the artist’ performances collaborated with some art students, and local people surround the art space. He never see in other places where local people and guests can join together to enjoy an art exhibition. Indeed the night was very special attended by many national art lovers such as Dr Oei Hong Djien, Dr Melani Setiawan, Teguh Wibisana, Simon Tan, Chris Dharmawan, and some more.
Mary-Jo thought that the exhibition was amazing. She enjoyed all the wonderful works in the space. Stressing this, in one conversation with me and the artist, she still wondered why such artist can produce many art works, which most of them are excelent ones, and from what thing he gets the energy to create them. “No artists in the world do the same like him,” she claimed.
Yes, many art lovers will say and agree to Mary-Jo. But there are some who do not agree with. An Indonesian leading critic said, in the discussion session accompanying the exhibition, that Wiharso’s works are merely imitating some other artists’ styles. This argument boosted the audiences. How come an artist who gets many admirations from the world art-scene is just a copy-paste one? Some people said that nowadays it is not important to discuss the appearences without searching the meaning of the works themselves. Then, some days after the discussion, another senior art critic and also a lecturer in Indonesian Arts Institute wrote in the leading paper Kompas that the critic mentioned above was only doing things with his own shoes.
Well, it is time for people freely to see anything with their own perspectives. The same thing happened when discussing the art works. So nowadays arts have their multifacets point of views depending on what shape they are to be examined. These are, at least, what the poet Afrizal Malna said in the terrace that night.
You know, the Sunday visit last about at 7pm. Before leaving Semarang to Yogyakarta, the artist and the poet gave their talks to some young local artists and art students. And above all, I want you to know one person who was very kind to join the visit, that is Mr Hendro Wasito. This gentlement is the artist’ friend and also an art lover. He is the guy behind the scene of the “Intoxic” exhibition. And, I believe, he is going to be one important person in the city art-scene in the upcoming time. I thank him for all the help.
Image: The Poet Afrizal Malna.
Photo by: Ferintus Karbon
This article originally published at YAITU: Art House's blog. To discuss this article with the writer, visit Tubagus P Svarajati personal blog at http://svarajati.blogspot.com