Overly rigid attempts at comparisons to Picasso do not do justice to Tondi Hasibuan’s incredibly multifaceted work. The stylistic caesuras are too abrupt. Forms reminiscent of Picasso’s late period pieces are given a new lease on life with reinventions from the fund of the artists imagination. A Fine Arts Professor, Tondi Hasibuan’s ambivalent works are rich in extremes,making it difficult to find a common label that could neatly trace his motifs back to Indonesian Modernist Painting or to European Cubism, the main elements of his established style. His universalist approach to art practice contends with the oft-demanded question of the “Indonesian soul” that pervades Orientalist views of Southeast Asian contemporary art. One can argue that the angular faces that populate his paintings draw from traditional masks and are meant to reflect a culture-specific sensibility. But Tondi Hasibuan’s concerns go beyond this. He finds stimulation in the rich culture of the archipelago, but avoids conformity to some static notion of an essential Indonesian-ness.
Someone less informed about the laborious process of arriving at a painterly style will dismiss Hasibuan’s figures as lazily slapdash. But the sheer number of images he produces with consistency, crushes any doubt about his artistic resolve. This latest Jakarta exhibition parses the tactical subtleties of his maverick visual vernacular. Fragments of his previous styles join ad-hoc painterly improvisations in apparent rushes toward chaos, which an ineffable formality surprises and checks. It’s as if one threw sticks in the air and they landed as houses and horses. The themes are richly comic and evocative. His kings and knights seem to be inspired by French playing card maker Pierre Marechal, and they hilariously strut with unwarranted panache. In his 2019 work Because they are led by a lion, a hesitant esquire has the countenance of a sleepy baby, proudly clutching an object whose use he appears to have forgotten; a spear that strangely looks like a pen.
Supriatna’s works are characterized by bold strokes in acrylic paint that evoke the flowy and instinctive movement of his dancer subjects. They don’t make a fuss of themselves and they seem to be soaked in poetry. Even with a commonplace motif of the female figure, he succeeds in embedding gestural bravura to his imagery. The pirouetting dancer in the painting Nyi Ronggeng’s motion is betrayed by the suggestive spread of a scarf; dramatically complemented by the caress of her hands and the fine pointed flick of her fingers. She is bathed in bold greens, blues, and yellows so that she is infused with a festive and vaguely erotic power. Supriatna has mastered painting such melodious portraits. A draftsman of exquisite skill and an observer of great sensitivity, Supriatna would feel most attuned to the post-impressionists; the visionaries who defined their universe primarily with their agile minds. But instead of mimicking their untamed expression, he pares down the female figure to a compact summary of delicate energy. The painter adds a touch of melancholy to his documentation of movement, which had taken hold of himself and which made the world seem precarious to him. It is this signature that gives his pictures a dimension of compassion that speaks most profoundly today.
Andi Sopiandi portrays strong animal figures and brightly colored landscapes. His style employs conventional proportions but avoids the conceit of psychological empathy in their use of color. His oil on canvas, Nelayanku Kemana? (Where is my fisherman) exudes tranquility and gravity, they behave not as fantastic landscapes contained within frames but as ambient presences that are absorbed in our living spaces. These landscapes lack any sentimentality, they are unabashedly folkloric in their graphic silhouettes with unusually juxtaposed areas of color; a naif modern painting that draws comparison with some of Henri Rousseau’s primitivist work on paper. As a true auto-didact, Sopiandi presents no hard and fast objectives. His oil on canvas landscape painting of a coffee farm, “Cukul” is a symphony in blue and green with delicate gradations, the most impressionistic image in his body of work. The phantasmagoric oil on canvas, “Morning On The Cliffs Of The Palace” is an imaginary landscape of a bright orange volcanic flow contrasting with the thin line of white and green morning dew. The distinct atmospheric mood of this piece punctuates the exhibition with a dissonant coda.
This exhibition at Balai Budaya Jakarta which runs until the 30th of December 2020 brings together completely heterogeneous motifs with a strange undertow from artists who all work in Bandung. The three painters carry the weight of the formidable Bandung School whose painting styles have come to be known as Indonesia’s most salient maneuver towards modern art. After dwelling on formal comparisons, we should note how the exhibition creates a magical space at this particular time. They all record some powerful scenes and ideas in the manner of great paintings from the museums that seem to have come alive for an uncanny and timely rendezvous.
About the artists
Tondi Hasibuan lives and works in Bandung, Indonesia. He studied Illustration at Swinburne University for his BA and at Birmingham City University for his MA. He has recently been chosen to participate in the Florence Biennale in 2021.
Supriatna has a Ph.D. in Communication Sciences from Universitas Padjadjaran and an MFA from Institut Teknologi Bandung. He has participated in 28 exhibitions in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Japan.
Andi Sopiandi worked as an engraver, fine arts teacher, and designer in Bandung for over 30 years. He has held four solo exhibitions and over 20 group exhibitions in Indonesia and Japan.
Pameran Seni Rupa di Balai Budaya Jakarta
Seniman: Supriatna / Tondi Hasibuan / Andi Sopiandi
Dikurasi oleh Aisul Yanto dan Geronimo Cristobal
Pameran berlangsung dari 20 hingga 30 Desember 2020
Forum Silaturahmi Keraton Indonesia
The Dorm Artist Platform
Institut Seni Budaya Indonesia