Friday, September 29, 2023 | 01:51 WIB

Revolutionary-Era Artwork at the Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel Yogyakarta


Yogyakarta, IO – The relief, which is carved from andesite stone and cast cement, is still faithfully set in the lobby of the Royal Ambarrukmo Yogyakarta hotel to this day. Created by renowned artist Harijadi S. with a team of artists from Sanggar Selabinangun Yogyakarta at the special request of President Soekarno, the relief is entitled “Profit and Loss on the Slope of Merapi”.

Dated 1964-1965, this relief vividly depicts a surge of glorification of Soekarno, who was also the Great Leader of the Indonesian Revolution at that time. With a height of more than 5 meters and a width of 3 meters, we will find an explanatory text at the bottom of this predominantly gray relief. It reads like this:

Even as hard as a rock
And also soft as well
The running current of revolution
Is very happy
To present this work to:
Soekarno, the great artist
Who provides a wide field
For fighter-artists
To pour their devotion

Created by some 17 sculptors and seven painters (including Harijadi S.), this relief was one of Soekarno’s ways to provide creative space for the Yogyakarta artist group, as well as decorating the magnificent hotel that has just opened in the Student City. The hotel, formerly known as Ambarrukmo Palace Hotel, was in fact one of the buildings erected as part of war reparations from Japan.

For the record, this hotel was first opened to the public in 1966, as another Soekarno megaproject, before finally being closed in 2004. After a total renovation, it reopened in 2011 under the name of Royal Ambarrukmo Yogyakarta, as a hotel born again.

In addition to the relief “Profit and Loss on the Slope of Merapi” that welcomes visitors in the hotel lobby, when walking towards the main restaurant area, on the right side we will find a ceramic mosaic with a length of about 6 meters. This mosaic is entitled “Life in Central Java”.

There are several fragments in the colorful ceramic mosaic, ranging from stories about community life in Central Java which are friendly and magical, such as pounding rice together, bathing sessions with village women who are depicted naked, to the market situation at that time.

A period of life in Java that President Soekarno wanted to share with the world (in this case hotel guests) through harnessing the talents of Grade A artists commissioned by the President. The ceramic mosaic relief was put together by J. Soediono, one of his favorite artists.

In an interview with Herman Coubois, General Manager of Royal Ambarrukmo Yogyakarta, it was recently revealed that not everyone is aware that in this almost 60-year-old hotel there are several works of art left by the revolution that are still in good condition. “In addition to reliefs about life on the slopes of Merapi, ceramic mosaics on two floors (one in front of the restaurant, the other on the stairs connecting the 8th floor to the rooftop floor), we also have bronze statues of historical value in the backyard gardens and near the main swimming pool area,” said Herman, who has lived in Indonesia for 25 years.

Works of art from the revolutionary period which tended to be honest and broke the rules of eastern norms were described in their entirety. Figures of naked women with curves of eroticism in reliefs, ceramic mosaics, bronze statues, and depictions of small children who are naked free to play are works that we can fully enjoy in the hotel complex.

“Interestingly, the naked female figure displayed as a bronze statue by the pool was based on an original: there is a woman with identical anatomy who served as the model,” he said.

In various works of literature and research, we can find that the purpose of nudity in the works of art displayed is another manifestation of the passion of healthy and ideal Indonesian women. “Perhaps he meant to fully describe the Indonesian people at that time, healthy and fit as Soekarno intended.”

In addition to the statue of “The Naked Girl” that welcomes visitors at the side of the main swimming pool, there is another bronze statue, crafted by Soetopo, entitled ” Girl Carrying a Jug on the Head” in the hotel complex. There is also a statue of “A Girl Pouring Water” perched at the side of the children’s pool, a work of an artist named Sulistiyo. These artists worked under the direction of Edhi Sunarso, the Indonesian sculpture maestro who was also the creator of the Welcome Monument at the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout, Jakarta.

In addition to the iconic mosaic in front of the restaurant, ceramic pieces full of meaning and color can be found on the 8th floor of the hotel, with the theme “Community Life in Yogyakarta”. Covering a wider area and adorning almost all of the walls connected to the rooftop floor, visitors can observe creative interpretations of revolutionary artists depicting the culture and rituals of Yogyakarta, ranging from Sekatenan activities to a series of five Javanese wayang Pandavas. There is also a traditional wedding dress, beautifully depicted through ceramic pieces which are said to be imported from Japan.

Are you interested in taking selfies, admiring and visiting an art gallery with revolutionary nuances at the Royal Ambarrukmo Yogyakarta hotel? This place is open to the public, but there are some areas that are only accessible to hotel guests. Enjoy the beautiful, unique, and very Indonesian revolutionary era artwork! (Freddy Wally)


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