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Pintor Sirait on Indonesia, its myth and hopes

By The Jakarta Post 

Pintor (second left) and friends examine one of the artist's work in progress.

Of the many Indonesian contemporary artists who have made it to the top, Pintor Sirait is considered as one of the few who has earned not only local recognition but also the respect of the international art community.  

Pintor, known for using metal in all of his sculptures, pulled a stunt recently at his Singapore "F1" exhibition by creating a life-size Formula One racing car covered in bullet holes.  Controversial?  Maybe for some, but for Pintor, it's his way of expressing his vision to the world.

Not so long ago, I had the chance to meet him for the very first time at his eclectic residence in Sanur, Bali, to catch a glimpse of the new intriguing ongoing collection he is working on for a group exhibition in Berlin.

Like many artists around the world, Pintor is also very much affected by what happens in his daily life.

Just like Picasso was inspired by the bombing of Guernica in the Basque country when creating some of his most noted works, Pintor drew inspiration from the Bali bombings for his creation in Singapore, expressing his concern over violence by adding bullet holes on the body of this F1 car.  I am quite eager to find out what inspired him his time for his new artwork.

Arriving his house, I can see he also uses it as a workplace.  An interesting painting of a bare feet boy standing opposite heavily equipped police troops immediately catches my attention and guess what?  It is on canvas!  And half of its metal frame is filled with bullet holes.

"The media bombards us every day with news about what is happening around us, which deeply concerns me and raises my companion," says Pintor.

It is intriguing for me to see how news has inspired his new artwork, and his choice of working with canvas for the first time ever.

When I asked him why he suddenly changed from working with metal to canvas, he says it has to do with images.

"I want to take images form the news, use them and represent them again.  It is almost impossible for me to do this with the hard material I normally use.  It makes more sense to use canvas as it is two dimensional.  

"I just want people to see what happens in Indonesia," he goes on.

"We have to find what our myth is, and what our real current issue is.  This is very important."

It is pretty obvious that the images he chose to re-use from the media tell a unique story.  They will be processed into completely new artwork and compositions using everything from the colours, drama to the powerful story of what the images are all about.  He will then frame them using his signature style, metal.

His creation will resemble the work I described earlier, David and Goliath, which not only tells a strong story but also exudes powerful energy.  Imagine how this boy must have felt standing in front of his Goliath.

"As an artist, I express my concern over some of the images by presenting them back as a question to the viewer.  Something interesting happens when deconstructing and reconstructing these images."

Pintor explains that these paintings give him voice to speak back at what has been expressed by so many in the media.

"I want to highlight the sense of freedom artists [writers, poets and musicians] should have to contribute positively to our culture and touch the grounds of humanity for all."

His impressive talent combined with a charming personality has made me lose track of time.  We discuss everything from his early career to what led to this collection, which he hasn't named yet.

I don't have the name yet, but basically it is part of the Mystic Airways.  An by that I am referring to a new life-size sculpture of an airplane I am working on now.  I wanted to insert images and text that appear in the media... to give viewers a taste of how we portray ourselves and how we are seen by others in the media.'

The original idea was just to put the text and images on the plane, he went on.  "Upon further artistic development and thought, I had the desire to do something with the images, take them onto a canvas, match them with other images and frame them in verses celebrating the spirit of our cultural sense of triumphalism, rather than being 'lost in the translation' of 'nrimo.'  I want my art to make people think about life and inspire them.  It is not, however, the solution to the problem."

Pintor insists his art is not meant to voice his disappointment but more to show people why and what are the reasons behind all of this.

"I believe there is great power in the heart of Indonesians.  I come to show the hole in the heart.  I am only presenting a reality in a palatable and intelligent way so people don't feel like they have done something wrong."

Pinto's hold on Indonesian tradition transpires in his work.  In Mythic Airways, Pintor represents the dreams Indonesia used to have as well as myth that has lived throughout time.  And what is this myth he is referring to?  None other than our national ideology Garuda Pancasila.

I can understand where his fascination comes from.  The mythical Garuda bird has charmed many great people including our first founding father Sukarno.

A famous Indonesian poet named Raden Mas Noto Suroto once wrote "I am Garuda, Wishnu's noble ride that can spread my wings high on top of your islands."

Two days with Pintor has brought me into a new world.  I see hope in his art works, hope that Indonesia will not stop dreaming.  With such a strong myth as our ideology, we can be better and stronger.

David and Goliath is Pintor Sirait's first artwork in his new collection Mythic Airways.  This painting will premiere at "Made in Indonesia" exhibition, Gallerie Christian Hosp in Berlin, Germany, scheduled to run from Nov. 19 to Dec. 18.

Source by: JP/Erza S.T. 

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