Srihadi Soedarsono: World Class painting maestro from Indonesia

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Srihadi Soedarsono and Farida Srihad. (Photo: RP/IO)

IO – The solo exhibition of Indonesian painting maestro Professor Kanjeng Pangeran Srihadi Soedarsono, at the Indonesia National Gallery, Jakarta, March 11-April 9, has special mean­ing for the painter. “This exhibition is to commemorate my 88 years of age. This age has significance for a man of Javanese descent like me,” Srihadi explained.

The exhibition, which was opened by SOE Minister Erick Thohir on March 11, displayed 44 Srihadi‘s paintings with a landscape theme. The show consists of 38 paintings and the rest of his classic oeuvre in­cludes Borobudur sketches that he created when he was 17 years old.

At a young age, Srihadi had shown intuition and interest in natural, human and cultural values. He de­scribed Borobudur Temple with a landscape approach through expres­sive lines.

This sketch was deliberately dis­played along with his latest works, as a sign that the Borobudur sketch was the forerunner that inspired Srihadi to make landscape paintings.

This solo exhibition titled “Srihadi Soedarsono-Man x Universe” inter­prets the beauty of the Indonesian landscape as a spiritual zeal for a sense of independence and national pride. Landscape in Srihadi’s per­spective has a deeper theme than a sight that hypnotizes others to come visit.

“Universe is a record of memories like someone who remembers their memories before writing. This is how I recorded my journey from childhood till now that I’m 88 years old. How the paddy field that used to be so wide, now it is no longer that big,” Srihadi said.

Srihadi did not just paint. He also made statements, as he once did in times of struggle for independence. The most recent painting displayed at the exhibition is about the floods that hit Jakarta earlier this year.

Painting titled “Jakarta Megapol­itan – Flood Liberation Sculpture?” painted at the beginning of the year on a 128×205 cm canvas with oil me­dia. “This is my latest painting after Jakarta flooded at the beginning of the year. Actually, this is a follow-up painting, “Srihadi said.

The curator of the exhibition, Dr. A. Rikrik Kusmara, M.Sn., classifies Srihadi’s work into four big families, namely Social Critics (Papua Series, Bandung Series, and Field of Salt), Dynamic (Jatiluwih Series and En­ergy of Waves), Human & Nature (Mountain Series , Tanah Lot Series, Gunung Kawi Series), Contempla­tion (Horizon Series and Borobudur Series).

“Srihadi presented four main aspects in the series of landscape works,” said Rikrik. “First is a par­adox of ‘beauty’ inside reality. Sec­ondly, the perspective on the above reality drives the turmoil in Srihadi’s artistic process.”

“Third, the works that emerge in this phase are like self-reflection by observing human aspects in culture and nature; it seemed like an intense dialogue ‘at a distance’ between hu­mans, culture, and nature”.

“Fourth is the moment of contem­plation. In this work Srihadi places Borobudur’s representation in the landscape as the ultimate symbol of the process of contemplation and spiritualism”.

Rikrik did not want to discuss the matter of Srihadi’s painting style. “I would rather mention Srihadi’s paintings as essentialism, not in the style and genre of his paintings,” he said.

Srihadi’s painting is the result of a process of deep reflection that produces subtle experiences which are then presented in a unique vi­sual composition; it’s essential and enigmatic… placing aspects of the socio-cultural context in relation to reflections on the awareness of “be­ing” in the earth’s cycle and the uni­verse that is subtly wrapped in layers upon layers of structure of silent vi­sual signs, all of which requires the involvement of consciousness and “taste”.

“(It is) in harmony with the philos­ophy of Srihadi, memayu hayuning bawono, which is to glorify the earth.”

In addition to the exhibition, a book titled ‘SRIHADI SOEDARSONO – Man x Universe’ will also be launched by his wife, Farida Srihadi, along with Cultural Observer Jean Couteau. “The Javanese value system forms a symbolic approach typical of Srihadi in terms of shape and color,” said Farida. “How Srihadi’s power over nuance and detail is put forward and enriched by intuition and sense of taste in order to achieve the manung­galing kawula gusti (the unity of God and His subjects) ideal.”

“Srihadi is a maestro of Indone­sian Painting, and even the world,” said Couteau. He aligns Srihadi with Affandi.

“Srihadi has the ability to ‘feel’ which is not only extraordinary but also developed and honed by his na­tive Javanese tradition. by consid­ering the history of Indonesian and global painting. “Srihadi is not only a symbolic maestro or Indonesian colorist; he actually belongs to the world’s symbolic-colorist maestros,” Couteau said.

Besides the exhibition and book launch, a seminar will also be held on Saturday 28 March. (RP)