Why Masriadi do (loves, remains, or simply has to) live in Yogyakarta?
Just how fascinating is Yogyakarta to Masriadi and to all of us?
I am not certain that Masriadi would answer in a coherent and constructive way. I could tell, because Masriadi is a painter who finds it difficult to express his mind in extensive manner. His answer might be very much guessable: because he felt fit with many things in this city. He felt that he was “destined” to live in Yogya, or maybe it was because he no longer wanted to stay in Bali, or even because he had gotten himself a wife in Yogyakarta.
In order to find out why, I would like to do a transformation to the past.
In 2006 I (as a curator) invited him to join the “ICON: Retrospective” exhibition at Jogja Gallery. Why should he be part of that exhibition? Obviously because he was a citizen of Yogyakarta. But that was not the sole reason.
The exhibition itself had several motives and purposes.
First, ICON intentionally attempted to measure how far the visual art activities in Yogyakarta had advanced. Would the advancement lead to stronger idea variations, medium advancement, or would it be nothing more than a repetition of the past? This was also related to a research in finding the character of Yogyakarta contemporary visual arts that had been going on to the era of 2000s.
The second purpose—in relation to Yogyakarta as one of the “centers” for development and contributor of visual art in Indonesia and in Asia-Pacific. This was important to be discussed and to be used as a measurement to further clarify Yogyakarta position in certain periods up until today, among several cities in Asia or in the world. The point is, through the roles of the artists, ICON acted like an abstract or atlas to ease every person connected to it.
Third, ICON wanted to add specific notes on the occurring relationship between art and non-art disciplines, direct or indirect. In example, how far was the role of an artist in colouring the lives of the people; local, national, or even international? Or on the contrary, did local culture deeply influence the artists?
These three points positioned Masriadi as one of the important entities in Yogyakarta. The reason is obvious, off the matter that he was famous for the values of his paintings in the early 2000s that continued to climb up to the point having one of his works The Man From Bantul (2000) sold for HKD 2,3 million (USD 296,800) on October 2008, he had other role and potential. Aside from having the quality, magnetism and many fascinating breakthroughs in ideas, he consistently prioritize his vision on the contextualism of ideas in his creative process.
Historically Yogyakarta has never run out of artistic events. From the history of struggles in artistic ideology to “creative rebellion,” it turns out to be an enthralling tale to be discovered. From the declaration of independence of Republic of Indonesia in 1945 to the birth of Akademi Seni Rupa Indonesia (ASRI, Indonesian Academy of the Visual Arts) Yogyakarta in 1950, to the glory era of the sanggars or art studios (1960s),the ebb and flow of problems in medium of art, also the role of capital market in 80s-90s, and the issue of globalization in 2000s all have become part of the evolution of Yogyakarta visual art.
In the era between 1945 and 1950 Yogyakarta was shaded by the revolutionary struggles post the Republic’s independence. A number of artists who rose during this period were now considered the maestros of Indonesian fine arts, among them was the group Young Indonesian Artist or Seniman Indonesia Muda (SIM) with members S. Sudjojono, Harijadi S., Dullah, Kartono Yudhokusumo and others.
There was also the group People’s Artists or Seniman Rakjat that was created on 1947 led by Hendra Gunawan with members such as Affandi, Sudarso, and Batara Lubis. Preceding these two groups was the Association of Indonesian Painters or Persatuan Tenaga Pelukis Indonesia (PTPI) on 1945 led by Djajengasmoro. After the Dutch Military Aggression during 1948-1949, the Indonesian Academy of Visual Arts or Akademi Seni Rupa Indonesia (ASRI) was founded on 1950. This would later transformed into the Indonesian Institute of the Arts Yogyakarta where Masriadi then became one of its students.
During the 1950s-1960s many sanggars (artistic studios) emerged in Indonesia. Pioneered by G. Sidharta Soegijo’s and Widayat’s group Young Indonesian Painters (PIM), followed by Sanggarbambu led by Sunarto PR. Only then in the early 60s emerged Sanggar Bumi Tarung with vanguards Amrus Natalsia, Djoko Pekik and others. Keluarga Artja led by Edhi Sunarso and Sanggar Selobinangun led by Harijadi S. then appeared as sculpture studios.
In the midst of the 60s came the depoliticisation of the arts due to a political shift in 1965 when the Indonesian Communist Party failed to take over the government of President Soekarno. The military proposed Soeharto as the new President and soon during his reign communism was banned. In Yogyakarta the depoliticization led to the transition from the artistic tradition of realism to the socio-cultural movement, i.e relating to traditionalism.
In the decade of the 70s, no longer rooted themselves on political matters that had led to depoliticization movement various ideas started to grow. During his early reign the President Soeharto allowed some prospects and spaces to further encourage the spirit and diversity in both artistic ideas and medium exploration. Interestingly in this early decade of 1974 emerged a statement to oppose the preceding depoliticization. This could be seen from the statement “Black December” during Jakarta Biennale event in Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta.
The exhibition of New Art Movement, although was done in 1975 Jakarta,had so much impact to Yogyakarta. The arrest of the painter Hardi by polices and the involvement of students in the movement caused a riot in ASRI. They would then be dropped out from campus. Other event that occurred in Yogyakarta itself was the banning of exhibition Kepribadian Apa or “What Personality” on 1976 in Senisono Gallery Yogyakarta by the polices, right after the opening.
By Mikke Susanto – click here to read Yogyakarta (part 2)
photo : courtesy of Agung Sukindra