Wayang and butterflies: Sasya Tranggono celebrates her love for Indonesia

Sasya Tranggono is showcasing her evolution as an artist of 30 years at her latest exhibition, which further solidifies her reputation as a master in the post-traditional arts.

The exhibition, “A Love for Indonesia”, runs until March 10 at the National Gallery of Indonesia and marks Sasya’s 29th solo exhibition while celebrating her 30-year career.

The displayed works include 21 wayang paintings from her entire career, nine flower-themed paintings, 10 butterfly-themed works and a wayang installation that was made purely for the exhibition.

Through the works, Sasya interprets major traditional art forms, such as wayang and batik, using methods that have made her one of the most productive and influential artists in Indonesia.

Sasya has stuck to her instincts by painting, arranging and creating wayang artwork the way she knows best.

Each puppet in every single one of her works conveys a different, visible emotion that can be seen through sequined, small eyes that practically interact with the viewer with an effective, penetrating gaze.

The artist said her primary influences were the same ones that drove her to start producing works in the first place: her supportive mother, who is a skincare doctor, and the environment around her, as she has been surrounded by loving people that have kept her going from the start.

Elements of god and faith are also very apparent in her paintings, as evident in the names of paintings such as Everything Comes from God, For You My Lordand I Believe in You (though this one could also be dedicated to the people around her).

Sasya explained that many of her works were rooted in her faith in god and the oft-forgotten concept of pure love when talking about god.

From the works, visitors are able to see Sasya’s artistic development and progress, as reflected in the differences in her works from the year 2003 and the ones made in the 2010s.

In most cases, Sasya’s decision to grow as an artist is a conscious one but, at times, her changes are driven by the opinions of those she values.

Sticking to her tried and true methodology may be what Sasya does best but she admitted that, after talking to her daughter, she felt the need to do more to address the disconnect between traditional art and the youth perspective.

“When I showed some of the works to my daughter, she said, ‘Mom, do something new with your work! It feels flat’,” Sasya recalled.

“So I tried to experiment with different things, such as painting my wayang works on canvas, or adding rhinestones to the art to give it a bit more flair. She still said it wasn’t enough though. But in the end, she still believes so much in what I do.”

These changes are perhaps most visible in her works post-2011.

Her more elaborate pieces utilize rhinestones, such as I Believe In You, a 2014 painting of a butterfly covered in sequins.

Sasya is planning a touring exhibition in Europe and the United States this year. The scheduled stops include Leiden Museum Volkenkunde and the Tropen Museum Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the Museum Fundacao Oriente in Lisbon and New York, where her pieces will be part of a fashion show.

According to the exhibition’s curator, artist Jim Supangkat, all of Sasya’s works have their own character and draw visible inspiration from the works of local phenoms in the wayang and batik worlds; as such, her works can be classified as “post-traditional”.

“Her works showcase the traits of post-traditional art outside of the Western gaze, where her works can’t be defined as traditional art. Rather, they show only tinges of traditional influences,” Jim said.

“Her paintings are pure still life. She organizes wayang golek (wooden puppets) like how anyone would rearrange everyday objects and just paints them. The narration in her art shows strong theatrical character as a result.” (ste)

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Culinary Festival to Restore the Glory of Satay Padang

TEMPO.COJakarta – The unmistakable aromatic smoke of satay Padang on Saturday at the Pasar Raya Padang area originated from the Satay Padang Festival that managed to gather a large crowd.

There were at least 22 satay vendors that participated in this festival, selling a variety of Satays made out of beef, intestines, tongue, taichan, and many more.

The festival was initiated by the Permindo vendors association in partnership with the Padang trade agency.

The event held on Saturday, February 16, was also meant to counter the rumor of one case where a seller was busted for using pig meat.

“Don’t be affected by that one case, since it involves just one seller. There are still many [satay Padang] sellers who are honest,” said Padang Mayor Mahyeldi Ansharullah.


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Avoid Family Argument Driven by Different Presidential Choice

TEMPO.COJakarta – Many arguments or debates take place among the general public in the wake of Indonesia’s 2019 Presidential Election. Debates sparked by personal preference could also disrupt a family household.

Debates among family members with contrasting voting preferences may come up often, especially in Whatsapp group chats, that can create an awkward situation for anyone involved. But what is the best way to face this situation?

According to the social, cultural, and communication expert from the University of Indonesia (UI) Dr. Devie Rahmawati, it is best that we avoid debating on presidential preferences against family members.

“Avoid [having an argument], we must remember that family members are those who take care of us when we’re sick; not those presidential candidates,” said the doctor at the national museum in Central Jakarta on Tuesday, January 15.

In terms of family group chats, Dr. Devie said that it is best to enforce a strict rule that limits the topic of discussions to elements that are not related to the family. “Non-family related things should not be discussed in the group chat room,” she said.

“Remember this! When you die, it’s not the presidential candidates that will bury you but your relatives that are included in the Whatsapp group,” she reminded.


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Speaking through Color: Exhibition showcases paintings by artists with special needs

How do you express yourself if verbal language is inaccessible? This is the challenge experienced by people with disabilities who are non-verbal and therefore cannot communicate through speech.

Teachers at Jakarta’s Daya Pelita Kasih center believe the answer is through creating art.

The center supports students of all ages who have unique and specific needs relating to their disabilities that include dyslexia, attention deficit disorder (ADD), cerebral palsy, down syndrome as well as learning and behavior difficulties.

Some of the students have Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC), and therefore struggle with social skills, speech and nonverbal communication, restricted thoughts and behaviors.

Alongside academic education, life and work skills training, the center places an emphasis on creative therapies, including music, painting and handicraft skills to support students to reach their potential.

“We started the art project for therapy purposes. When they paint they can focus more and express their feelings through the colors,” explained Katharina Lita Wewengkang, the center’s founder.

Their art programs have been so successful the foundation has put on exhibitions at various hotels in Jakarta since 2012. More recently, in 2017 the Alila Hotel in Seminyak, Bali hosted an exhibition of the student artists’ work, and last year some participated in exhibitions at the National Gallery of Indonesia in collaboration with the Cultural Attaché of the Spanish Embassy.

Their latest exhibition, “Painting a Better Future”, is hosted by Erasmus Huis in Jakarta until March 15.

Jane Gabriela is a 17-year-old artist who paints using her fingers and hands, and has been exhibiting her paintings since 2012.

Although Jane has ASC and is nonverbal, she is able to write about the meanings behind her paintings.

Referring to Doorway to a Dream ( 2018 ), Jane’s mother Elizabeth Rosalina explained the painting represents a bird’s nest: “it is about how everybody wants to have a safe place, an eagle’s nest to feel secure in”.

The center’s co-founder Gitta S.van Engelen explained how emotion is reflected through the color choices students make when painting.

Student artists, she said, are encouraged in their work creation but are never pushed toward using any particular color or method.

“Red can be seen to show anger. In this one the colors are softer, and this they are harder,” Gitta said, referring to two paintings displayed side by side which reflect subtle differences in how the artists were feeling when they created the pieces.

Waterfall Valley ( 2019 ) was created by Indhy Mutiarahma, an artist with a heartwarming laugh who is also non-verbal.

Her mother Dina Cholidi described the painting as showing hope. “She uses orange to paint hope and happiness. Light blue also signifies a happy time […] There was one time [visual art teacher] Mr Harry got very frustrated because she was painting so well and then she painted everything black, maybe it was a mood swing.”

Teacher Bertha Thaga described Indhy as one of her favorite students. “The first time I taught her, it was so hard but then I tried to get to know her. Now we are best friends, not like teacher and student, but she’s like my sister.”

Social skills, including turn-taking and cooperation, are also developed through art therapy, as well as self-confidence, coordination and fine-motor skills.

Through exhibiting their art, the students are able to see the pleasure that their work brings to others – with many paintings being purchased, giving them a fantastic sense of achievement. Seventy percent of proceeds from sales go to the artists and the rest to the foundation.

“We try to help them further their ability and their strengths. They can earn something and make a living,” said Katharina.

Visitors to this exhibition cannot help but lean in to the vibrancy flowing from these paintings which instil an unwavering zest for life. (ste)

— The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post

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