Spirituality of Bedaya
Solo exhibition by Srihadi Soedarsono
26 September - 26 October 2014, Main Gallery & Project Room
Equator Art Projects is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Srihadi Soedarsono’s work in Singapore. Seven new paintings in oil on canvas will be displayed in the Main Gallery. Concurrently, a selection of watercolour paintings, dating from 1948 to the present, will also be on view in the Project Room. This wide-ranging display demonstrates the evolution of the artist’s varied style and is an exploration of Soedarsono’s approaches to painting, reflecting his creativity and versatility in adapting to different mediums.
Srihadi Soedarsono is regarded as one of the great masters of modern Indonesian painting and is known for his groundbreaking use of colour, manipulating its visual and emotive properties. The new works in this exhibition are inspired by local tradition and are drawn from two recurring themes in the artist’s oeuvre: bedaya dancers and landscapes. From an aristocratic family, Soedarsono grew up exposed to the culture and customs of the Javanese court. The bedaya ketawang is a sacred ritual dance performed annually on the second day of the Javanese month of Ruwah (during May) at the royal palace of Surakarta (Solo) to commemorate ascension of the ruling prince. It is performed by nine female dancers before a private audience and it is a considerable honour to be invited as a guest to partake in this tradition. Soedarsono’s dancers are archetypes of femininity, embodying beauty, grace and elegance. The artist achieves a sense of harmony and balance through the symmetry of the composition, built up through a triangular formation of the dancers’ arms. The purity of the colours conveys the energy and atmosphere of the scene. For the audience this is a profoundly spiritual experience.
Soedarsono’s landscapes frequently depict Mount Merapi and Borobudur, two Javanese sites of great cultural importance. The scenery is reduced to its simplest form with the horizon stretching into infinity. The composition is built up with broad, expressive brushstrokes and vibrant colours. The colours consist of two or three primary hues are that carefully layered and blended to reveal the subtle gradations in tonality. Visually impactful, these works capture the spirituality of the site, inviting contemplation and reflection.
The exhibition is accompanied by an extensively illustrated catalogue with an essay by Tony Godfrey.
Srihadi Soedarsono (b. 1931, Surakarta, Central Java - Indonesia) graduated from Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) in 1959 and later completed his master’s degree at Ohio State University in 1962. Soedarsono has exhibited extensively since 1955, selected exhibitions include Biennale de Sao Paolo (1969), Contemporary Asian Art (Fukuoka Art Museum – Japan, 1980), Asia Pacific Contemporary Art Triennial (1993), Asian Modernism: Diverse Development in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand (Japan Foundation Forum, Tokyo – Japan; Metropolitan Museum of Manila – Philippines; National Gallery, Bangkok – Thailand; National Art Gallery, Jakarta – Indonesia; 1996), Indonesian Modern Art and Beyond (Davos – Switzerland, 1997), Indonesian Biennial XI (1998), Visions and Enchantment: Southeast Asian Paintings (Singapore Art Museum, 2000). The artist lives and works in Bandung, Indonesia.
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