Curated by Cata Odata with Dwi S. Wibowo
What if male artists presented paintings of which all subjects were women? Some of us might just assume that they only exploit beauty, erotica, or physical charm, without the need to dig deeply into their persona. Such assumptions are something people take for granted, because in the art world, artists have a tendency to see things as objects. However, in the midst of an ever-expanding stream of art discourse, are such assumptions still relevant? What if the viewpoint is reversed?
Until today, the position of women in the art world that is considered to be male-centric is still an interesting topic of debate. The fuse of art with the discourse of science has altered various perspectives. The presence of women in an artwork often provokes criticism, because it is only recognized as a form of their physical exploitation. In fact, in the discourse of contemporary art, their position shifted from the object into an independent subject, constructing their concern and its meaning in public. The figure on the canvas is a representation of the social reality women face, which can be expressed by anyone.
This exhibition is showcasing the artwork of 5 artists; Anas Etan, Awan Yozzefani, Djunaidi Kenyut, Imam Sucahyo, and IBK Sindu Putra. The figures that appear in their work are derived from the intense relationship of looking at the social and cultural realities that arise around them. In the cultural environment where the artists live, the connection between men and women are closely intertwined with certain frameworks and boundaries. It can be seen throughout history. So that the context cannot be limited to a rigid and formalistic meaning of gender opposition. They are even used to exchanging roles in certain conditions and situations.
The idea is revealed in the artwork of Djunaidi Kenyut who shows female figures carrying things on their head, women whom you would easily meet in a traditional market. These paintings are based on his daily observations of the Ubud market, which shows us that women are elegant and gentle but also embody strength and struggle in terms of working. This picture is instantly considered to be ironic as it is in the middle of the gleaming tourism industry in Bali, which is still socially and economically wasted. But the image of women as an icon of Bali’s tourism has lasted decades, as presented in the work of Sindu Putra. His painting series picked up the archives of Balinese women’s portraits in the past. It cannot only be interpreted as romanticism, but rather seen as the historical fact of women’s position determining the direction of Balinese culture and its popularity since the beginning.
In this series, we will revisit #AnasEtan‘s large painting which invites us to contemplate women’s position in the society. His work reveals his thoughts on the attitudes of society in facing information broadcasted through mass media. Whether it is about economic, politic, social, and culture issues, especially on how it often objectifies women for the agenda setting.
Meanwhile, Awan Yozeffani’s work shows a lot of female subjects inspired by childhood figures. Aside from being a painter, he is also a father. The influence for his work comes from his closeness with his daughter, which determines his style in this series, an imaginative children’s world, full of play, and tend to be feminine. His work serves as a bite of reality that makes us question our own origin as well as our diverse cultural identity.
Imam Sucahyo, shows figures of the marginalized woman he met in his life. He lives close to the lower class (economically and socially), which helps him understand their behavior and life. For example, he developed a connection with former female prostitutes in Tuban (East Java). He finds there are many unrevealed aspects of humanity to discover about them, making them socially excluded.
These 5 artists demonstrate diverse perspectives and ways of positioning female figures as subjects in artwork. All are based on their observations of the social realities they are surrounded by. This indicates that the artwork has the ability to record what is currently happening and shows the shift of meaning.