Sensual Musical by Utin Rini
Arouse Art Exhibition
Women and Art: Redefining femininity
Munarsih Sahana, Contributor, Yogyakarta | Fri, 03/09/2012 11:17 AM
Utin Rini, Midnight Blues, acrylic on canvas, 180x160 cmUtin Rini, Midnight Blues, acrylic on canvas, 180x160 cmThere are always multiple interpretations and varied definitions when we come to talk about gender equality in Indonesia. As it is socially constructed, gender equality can be understood differently by different groups in society and influenced by sociopolitical aspects.
This topic has intrigued Ketjil Bergerak, an organization with an interest in facilitating dialogue among different elements in society in collaboration with Skar productions to discuss and later redefine what it takes to be a woman in Indonesia using (visual) art as the entry point for discussion.
They are currently featuring visual art works by 11 Yogyakarta female artists in an art exhibition with the theme Membatalkan Keperempuanan (Canceling Femininity) at Sangkring Art Space in Nitiprayan Yogyakarta, March 3-15. This is part of a series of events to commemorate 2012 International Women’s Day.
“Canceling femininity for women is a way to clear their mind in order to create an absence of concept [about their femininity] and afterward they are free to redefine themselves in line with what they want to say and do in accordance with the life they live,” said Invani Lela Herliyani, organizer of the exhibition.
Their art work on display, however, reflects mostly the typical roles of women, such as looking after the family, nursing, sewing, exposing their everyday life and images of women themselves.
Wahyu Wiedardini, a mother herself, claims that talking about gender relations between men and women is over. For her, women naturally give birth and feed their babies, as in her work Don’t Worry I am Here (140x120 centimeters, acrylic on canvas), featuring an image of a dog suckling three small puppies. A mother is supposed to nurture and protect her children, she said.
Maria Indria Sari showcases her skill in handwork with Trapped In A Form #1 (123x95 centimeters), using fabric, threads, buttons and zippers as her main materials to create an image of a sleeping beauty. The zippers are used to make the hair and buttons for the clothes. The work shows that she is good at employing different stitches, embroidery and sewing techniques, tasks that are generally performed by women.
Sewing techniques and appliqué are also on display in Maria Magdalena’s work Malam Tak Bertuan (Orphaned Night) which consists of six variable pieces of work using mixed media, including framed gunny sacks as the main canvas. She not only employed stitching on the gunny sacks but also appliquéd them with various objects including a fork, embroidery, dolls and two headed statues made of resin.
Bonita Margaret questions whether women are more dominant in men-women relations through a painting of a shadow of a pair of lower legs in Perempuan Dominan ? (Are Women Dominant?, acrylic on canvas, 80x60 centimeters). Onlookers might interpret legs as symbols of oppressing others although Bonita uses a nice color combination.
Painter Lashita Situmorang describes the strong and significant roles of women in her painting Tubuh Yang Bertumbuh (A Growing Body, 20x150 centimeters, acrylic on canvas) depicting an image of a large tree bearing leaves in the form of big umbrellas that symbolize shade and protection. Its lower trunk is supported by a moving female body, instead of roots.
Images of nice-looking girls are shown in Incognito (120x120 centimeters), a painting placed inside a neon box and Midnight Blues (180x160 centimeters, acrylic on canvas). Both are works by Utin Rini, who believes that there already is equality between men and women therefore there is no point for her to self-identify as a feminist.
Maria Indria Sari, Trapped in a Form #1, acrylic on canvas, 123x95 cmMaria Indria Sari, Trapped in a Form #1, acrylic on canvas, 123x95 cmMost of the participating female artists are graduates of the Yogyakarta Institute of Arts. There are two young participants; Arini Imani Sophia, who is a student of Gadjah Mada University, and Deidra Mesayu Risangsaeaya, who is still in the first grade of Fine Art High School SMSR, both are exhibiting pieces in a comic-book style.
Arini’s Perayaan Hari Kebalikan (Celebrating The Day of Reverse) which consists of nine pieces (30x41 centimeters, color pencil on paper) involves a tough young girl whose name is Popo. Whereas, Deidra’s Dunia Butuh Seorang Deidra (The World Needs a Deidra) is a feature consisting of six out of 25 pages from a book of her personal story of being attracted to a male friend in the same class. Deidra said, despite getting no response from the boy, she felt happy when one day he told her she was a great girl.
There is a three-set photography work Perempuan Perkasa (Strong Women) by Idealita Ismanto portraying women in construction work, as porters and other tough jobs.
There are two three-dimensional works, Utin Rini’s Colonizing The Colonizer in the form of an anchor made of metal and resin wrapped in a pink and black color combination of soft vinyl, and an animal statue made of recycled metal (50x50x170) by Wahyu Wiedyardini and her husband I Nyoman Adiana.
All these works will be discussed along with the topic “Canceling Femininity” on International Women’s Day which falls on March 8. This will be followed by other events: Online Exhibition on Women (female artists) on The Move (March 10-May 10) at TBY Art Shop, Open Studio of Yogyakarta female artists (March 12-15) and a festival involving women of Tegalkenongo village, Yogyakarta, on March 24.
Sangkring Art Project
Jl. Nitiprayan 88 Ngestiharjo,
10 a.m – 6 p.m
Utin Rini, who graduated from the printmaking department at ISI Yogyakarta, utilizes almost every single hue that can be produced by acrylic paint pigments in her Sensual Musical paintings. She uses a wide palette, featuring many combinations and intersections of colour, and all her paintings are dominated by fields of colour that come together to form the image of a human face.
In Utin’s Sensual Musical paintings, women are the main focus, and the images of her subjects have been appropriated from various portraits. Utin obtains these images from video stills from the Internet, and selects other digital imagery from the virtual world which she feels contain a certain element of sensuality, even taking some images from scenes in pornographic films. This can be linked to her previous series of paintings called Great Asian and Sensuality, which featured images of Japanese film stars orgasming, although Utin doesn’t pretend to reveal or remark on pornography itself in her works. Instead, her paintings are an attempt to reveal a woman’s sensuality while displaying an impression for various atmospheres of passion, which in turn become a vehicle for the collection of colours that define her works.
Utin’s colourful images of women’s faces were made possible with computer software, a tool that has now become a strong part of society. Computers can manipulate images in accordance with the interests of each single creator, and – like in Utin’s case - it can be used to transform a realistic image into rudimentary areas of flat colour. This change turns plastic images into a set of colour planes, which are then defined by their contras, colour tones, and saturation levels.
Utin’s paintings work in this manner, as they reveal themselves to be a collection of colour planes that overlap. Her works are the result of portrait engineering, and they also feature irregular splashes of colour. In some areas, Utin uses the same regular pattern of colour planes, such as the large collection of dots that are placed in a transparent manner over colour fields, and what then appears is an overlapping layer that shows the complexity and excitement that colour can afford. And, as if not colourful or complex enough, Utin pushes the boundaries of colour even further in her paintings by featuring lines of colour patterns, which ultimately remind us that these are paintings rather than mere pornographic images or pictures of female faces. Utin also paints her canvases in all their entirety – right, left, top, and bottom – driving the theatricality in her works even further, as if to engulf spectactors in the gallery space and art lovers everywhere.
Treatments like this have become the norm for Utin, who isn’t too concerned with her work being a painting in a pictorial sense. During her studies, Utin tended to create images utilizing just lines and she often focused on people as her subject. She admitted that in her present works, the cost of painting a narrative was somewhat neglected, but focus was instead on the painting as an object, a space, and a physical field that allowed her to play with colour. Colour, says the artist, is how she communicates with her audience; colours allow her to pique their interest or to unsettle them, and colour can also be used to remind viewers of particular situations or atmospheres.
In her production process, Utin treats her paintings similarly to how she produces her graphic works with printmaking; Utin’s task of painting has been a collective job involving two assistants - Wawan, another young painter, and Penceng, an all-rounder – and before she applies paint to any of her canvases, Utin tests a variety of options on her computer. Even so, this process does not necessarily eliminate the technical complexity of her works. Whilst computers do produce precise designs, the application of paint on the canvas is still a difficult task, and all of Utin’s canvases are perfect likenesses of her computer-aided designs; each dab of paint is applied paintstakingly, and even the smallest detail is seen to.
And finally, Utin has gathered all her works under the main theme Sensual Musical. This titles does illustrate how rhythm in music can be visually described by structured patterns, but Sensual Musical also refers to the artist’s favorite music; the songs of the legendary British band, Led Zeppelin, almost always accompanied Utin during the process of designing the works of these series, and her designs are visual interpretations of the sensuality of Led Zeppelin’s songs (for Utin, the band’s songs are always sensual). Utin doesn’t attempt to display literal evocations of Led Zeppelin’s songs – like guitar images, portraits of the band members, or musical patterns through polka dots or a hubbub of colours – but links the band’s music to the sensuality of women. Thus, her paintings in this series are a colourful blend of the songs that have inspired her and the artist’s unique interpretation of the sensuality of women, a sensual musical so to speak.