Friday, June 05, 2009

Taking a different line

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Thu, 05/14/2009 12:11 PM | Arts & Design

Essence of drawing: Visitors pass by various takes on the concept of drawing at “Ligne à Ligne”, an exhibition held at the National Gallery as part of Le Printemps Francais festival. JP/J. AdigunaEssence of drawing: Visitors pass by various takes on the concept of drawing at “Ligne à Ligne”, an exhibition held at the National Gallery as part of Le Printemps Francais festival. JP/J. Adiguna

The conventional, basic way of drawing is to push a graphite pencil across a sheet of paper, but at a time when conventionalism is frequently scrutinized, the very meaning of drawing itself also comes under question.

A visual art exhibition currently at the National Gallery Jakarta is really a protest against conventional notions of drawing.

The exhibition, “Ligne à Ligne” (Line to Line), shows works, in a variety of mediums, styles and formats, by 33 young artists from Indonesia and France. Although the distinctive pieces seem to maintain the essence of drawing as marvelously simple with elegant lines, they step away from conventional mediums and tools.

“A drawing is what makes it possible for the artist – painter or sculptor – to venture beyond set limits, into the grounds of the unknown, to seek, to dare, to lose themselves, to find, to imagine,” said the exhibition curator Michel Nuridsany.

And so the artists draw with toilet rolls and cotton buds, use neon to create forms fixed to the wall, align holes in paper, pin drawings together with clothes pegs, or send their cartoons via computer or cell phone.

Dan Mu created her installation Au fil du paysage by throwing balls of wool into the air, onto the floor and against the walls, and manipulated the strings by keeping them apart from each other, holding them together, stretching them to their full length, rolling them up, shaking them or lumping them together.

After graduating from the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Marseille in 2006, Dan, who was born in China in 1979, moved away from paper to work on three-dimensional pieces.

Indonesian artist Dimitri Rangga’s work Cheal Peace is a video installation showing the creative process of drawing a steaming cup of hot drink on the wall, with “Peace!” written below it.

Dimitri, born in 1980, drew the picture in sweetened condensed milk; the ants that later swarmed over it made the outline clearer and became part of the work.

The series of works of “sweetened condensed milk drawings on a wall”, made over a three-hour period at a friend’s house in Dimitri’s native Bandung in 2006, does not appear in the exhibition but the short video demonstrating making them is amusing for visitors, children, teenagers and adults alike.

“The advantage of video is it can capture the creative process,” Dimitri said. “If other people draw with pencil on paper, I draw with milk and people can still enjoy it through video.”

Also amusing are the works by 30-year-old Sammy Stein, who uses stickers to create his pictures on the wall. His drawings are minimalist, brittle and sometimes even faded, but they are numerous and always accompanied by a poetic caption.

A minimal drawing of a group of snakes looking in one direction with a bright diamond over their heads is titled “Anak Pangeran” (Prince), a pair of shoes is captioned “Besok kau akan mati” (Tomorrow you will die), a zebra bears the motto “Dia curhat padaku” (He/she is pouring out his/her heart to me) and a supple human-like figure is “the concern of a generation”. All these captions make you both smile and think about the meaning proposed.

Curator Nuridsany said of Stein’s work that, “What is explored here is not only mere simplicity but also the flexibility of hands, legs, tree trunks and branches and mushrooms, which seem to flow with the changes and transformations.”

The work of another Indonesian artist Prilla Tania, titled Ruang Dalam Waktu bagian 3, (Space in Time part 3) combines mural art with chalk and optical illusions.

The 30-year-old artist, who graduated from the School of Art and Design at the Bandung Institute of Technology, used chalk to draw on a wall a scene of a laneway. In the picture, branches of a mango tree, fruit hanging off them, protrude from behind the wall and run along the laneway. She then combined the chalk background with her own moving image and sound, creating a scene of a woman trying to pick the mangos.

“Because of the nature [of my work], I always make my works at the scene of the exhibition,” Prilla Tania said of her installation. “It’s a combination of video work, photography, drawing, sound and performance art.”

An untitled work by Hye-Sook Yoo, a Korean artist who has been living in Paris for more than 20 years, is a drawing of a warm black fur jacket, which the artist has drawn using only parallel short and long lines in meticulous detail.

Hye-Sook Yoo has technically combined black with black in drawing bright graphite lines on obscure acrylic, which together make the fluff of the jacket amazingly clear.

What this exhibition demonstrates is that, even though these young artists love their videos and are willing to employ any kind of medium to show their powers of observation and to document people, places and events, drawing’s place in the creation of art is as valid as ever.

These works even show how the creative process of drawing itself has become a fascinating art form in its own right.

“It [drawing] can only be the means, but since Leonardo da Vinci, drawings have won their independence and are stronger, I even want to say stronger than ever, as a work of art itself,” said Nuridsany.

The exhibition is part of the annual Le Printemps Francais festival, which runs from May 5 to July 26. This is the fourth Le Printemps Francais festival held by the Jakarta French Cultural Center (CCF) since 2005.

Among the events as part of the three-month festival are a food installation by Delphine Bailleul, a fashion show by Marie Labarelle in collaboration with dancer Marie Barbottin, a classical music performance by flautist Clement Dufour and pianist Tristan Pfaff, a comedic theater performance by Phillipe Martz and Bernie Collins, and a photography exhibition by Camille Vivier.

Ligne à Ligne

Until May 15
National Gallery
Jl. Medan Merdeka Timur No. 14
Central Jakarta

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