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|Throughout history, artists have been fascinated by the subject matter of womanhood. Whilst artists have always attempted to analyze, study, feel, work on and express womanhood in their works of art, the results have often fallen short of the mark because woman is a complex and mysterious creature. Many characteristics of woman are visible, and yet many other facets are hidden. The world revolves around power, possessions and women. Of these three, woman holds the central position. Isn’t it true that the success or failure of a ruler can be caused by a woman? The English King, Edward VIII was willing to give up his throne for the woman he loved.
In this exhibition titled ‘Woman’, four talented and relatively unknown artists present their individual perspectives of the various aspects of womanhood.
Ni Nyoman Sani is a young artist from Bali. The only woman presenting works in this exhibition, she depicts women in a variety of costumes in the same way as a fashion designer presents models. However, in contrast to a fashion designer, Sani presents the facial expressions of woman with various touches of color and form so that the images we see are no longer like the images found in a fashion magazine, but more as paintings which “speak”. In general, the facial expressions are rather similar, and sometimes Sani does not even consider them to be of importance and then she dispenses with depicting the faces at all. What is it that she wishes to portray? Woman are depicted singly, in pairs or in groups, all sharing the same fate or position in society. The deformation of their elongated and elegant bodies, the bright, clear, harmonious colors used for the figures and the backgrounds, and the artistic gestures used by Sani make her paintings easy to comprehend. What is it that this woman artist wishes to show us in her depictions of women?
Tjipgito Soerjanto graduated with an MBA in the USA and later left his profession to settle in Ubud where he paints and sculpts. Since he was a child he loved painting but he has never had any formal training in the visual arts. This is his first exhibition. Gito is inspired by traditional Balinese arts and he also admires the work of Gustav Klimt, a famous Austrian artist known for his richly ornamented paintings of women. The women tend to look the same in all of Gito’s paintings. I do not know if his women are painted from a live model or whether the woman is a creation of his imagination. With the addition of gestures to the face, he su cceeds in transforming this woman into various women with differing characters portraying moods of gentleness, softness, cunning, aggression, sadness or sensuality. The thread connecting the paintings of this series is a flower. The women in the paintings are each given a name: Sabrina, Natalie, Clarissa and so on. Do these names hold a meaning for Gito? However, some of the paintings are given titles such as Paul Gauguin, Van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec, Amadeo Modigliani. In these works the identifying characteristics of these legendary artists – in the form of their most famous paintings - appear in the figures or the backgrounds of Gito’s works. Is this his form of homage to the artists he admires or has he done it just for fun? I hope that Gito continues to progress as an artist, and I look forward to his next exhibition.
Iswanto Soerjanto, a professional photographer, is the younger brother of Tjipgito. In this exhibition he presents his experimental photography. Rather than using the medium of photographic paper, he has chosen to use aluminum and iron sheets, an alternative medium that is rarely used in Indonesia. His subject matter is presented in a subtle manner in which the form of woman is barely discernible. As a result, the viewer’s curiosity is stimulated. What could it be that he wishes to relate to us about these women? Does he wish to show us the mysterious face of woman as shown on a stained glass church window? In fact, the mystery of woman has never been solved.
Dr. Lau is the most senior in age and the greatest all-rounder of the four artists in this exhibition. Lau is a doctor who graduated in Germany, a painter, sculptor and art photographer. In this exhibition, he shows his three-dimensional works, paintings and art photography using the conventional method of printing on photographic paper. In his works, woman is shown in contrasting situations or moods, as in Lust and Conscience where we see a bare-breasted woman holding a Bible. It seems that we are presented with a choice between lust and religious morality. In the work entitled Disclosure, a woman attempts to politely cover her breasts with thick clothing yet at the same time she wishes to display her sexiness. In Beauty and the Beast, a woman’s face is covered in the style of a terrorist, but we also see her beautiful breasts. It is as if Lau wishes to portray the symbolism and contrast of interlocking pairs such as yin and yang, good and bad, hard and soft, physical and spiritual, lust and morality.