Immutable Objects

Painting by Hansen

Date : 24 October – 15 November 2007

Eat

Hansen, born in Toho (West Kalimantan) in 1960, has travelled around the world. When he got back to Indonesia in 1990, he stayed in Bandung for 13 years. Since 2003 he has lived in Ubud, Bali and has established his gallery named after himself, Hansen Gallery. In 1980, Hansen studied Mechanical Design in Taipei, Taiwan. After he graduated in 1984, he then worked in an American company as a designer specializing in technical drawing. At the same time, he went back to university studying at School of Yacht Design in Connecticut. During that period, Hansen also explored abstract painting techniques combined with minimalist style.

Exhibitions :

2007 : Immutable Objects, Soemardja Gallery, Bandung, Cemara 6 Galeri, Jakarta

1995 : “Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow” (Hong Kong)
“Love for Life” (Singapore)
1987 : “Line and Color Harmony” (Florida)
“Dynamic and Harmony” (Miami)
1986 : “Line & Color in the Ocean” (Brazil)
“Art for Your Life” (Tokyo)
1984 : “My World” (Taipei)
1983 : “New Life Exploration” (Taipei, Solo Exhibition)

Tentang Immutable Objects

Immutable Objects
Tahun 2006, ketika pertama kali saya bertemu Hansen, karya-karya terbarunya memunculkan dua persoalan sekaligus, yaitu lukisan yang cenderung ke figuratif serta gejala yang menuju ke abstraksi. Kecenderungan yang lari ke abstrakisme ini tampak kuat pada pameran tunggalnya Celebration of Inner Dancing II di awal 2006. Di situ diperlihatkan kepada kita beberapa problematika sehubungan dengan ‘gaya abstrak’ ini, terutama ketika Hansen banyak menghasilkan deformasi obyek-obyek, perpaduan ketebalan sapuan-sapuan kuas, tekstur, lelehan cat serta keseimbangan komposisi. Selain itu, dilihat dari konsepsinya, Hansen berupaya membangun jembatan pemahaman untuk mempertemukan ‘estetika’ Barat dan Timur, atau bisa dibilang pertemuan antara abstrakisme Barat dan Timur yang diwakili kaligrafi. Bisa dikatakan bahwa konsepsi tersebut melatari hampir seluruh proses penciptaan karyanya. Sementara itu, Hansen sadar bahwa pertemuan antara Barat-Timur bisa berakhir sebagai ilusi, akan tetapi tidak bisa memungkiri bahwa pertemuan tersebut terjadi secara harmonis.
Hemat saya, abstrakisme di sana cukup menunjukkan letak kekuatan dari seluruh karya-karya Hansen sebagai seorang pelukis. Hakikat abstrak Barat-Timur itulah yang juga dibawanya sebagai pokok utama dalam pameran di Galeri Soemardja kali ini, serta dibayangkan akan menjadi daya tarik tersendiri ketika materi itu dipamerkan di konteks akademi Seni Rupa-ITB. Oleh karena itu, memamerkan karya-karya Hansen yang membawa persoalan abstrakisme tentunya cukup beralasan, mengingat kampus SR-ITB itulah di dalam sejarah dikenal sebagai markas – atau meminjam istilah legendaris Trisno Sumardjo: ‘laboratorium Barat’ – bagi praktik seni lukis abstrak Indonesia.
Pertama-tama mungkin kita ‘anulir’ dulu istilah abstrak sebagai satu-satunya kecenderungan yang diajukan Hansen dalam pameran ini. Sebab, dari seluruh lukisan-lukisan Hansen yang kita nikmati dalam pameran ini, tidak sepenuhnya lari ke abstrak murni (pure abstract), sebab bagaimanapun juga dia tetap menyisakan sejumlah gambaran (bentuk dasar) yang masih bisa kita kenali dalam kehidupan sehari-hari. Dilihat dari jejak artistik sebelumnya, sikap Hansen cenderung mendua di antara ‘abstraksi’ maupun ‘representasi’, di antara sesuatu yang tidak tergambarkan dengan sesuatu yang tergambarkan.
Hansen tidak sepenuhnya membebaskan kanvas sebagai bidang dua dimensional. Dia pun tidak sedang membebaskan karyanya dari keinginan bercerita, lazimnya karya-karya abstrak yang kita jumpai dalam sejarah seni rupa. Sikap Hansen yang mendua ini tentu saja memiliki daya tarik sendiri untuk menguak tabir seni lukis abstrak Indonesia. Selain itu, upaya lain yang merefleksikan keinginan untuk berbagi cerita kita peroleh dari cara Hansen memberikan setiap judul lukisannya. Dari caranya memilih judul, Hansen seolah menyodorkan kata kunci untuk membuka pemahaman terhadap karya lukisnya. Perkara ini tidak saja menjadi ciri khas Hansen, sebab pelukis abstrak Indonesia umumnya melakukan hal yang sama.
Pada lukisan Awareness dan Dance with the Wind (2007) misalnya, kita jumpai bentuk seperti teko dan pengering rambut. Atau pada Empty Mind#2, bentuk botol dilukis secara gamblang. Di dalam setiap lukisan, Hansen membagi bidang kanvas dimana bidang-bidang tersebut dimanfaatkan untuk menempatkan obyek-obyek tersebut, sedemikian rupa seolah obyek tersebut tidak bisa dirubah atau tidak dapat dipertukarkan (immutable) dengan – katakanlah – oleh deformasi bentuk itu sendiri. Oleh karena itu, lukisan-lukisan Hansen menyimpan dua hal penting, yaitu obyek-obyek yang masih mengacu pada bentuk aslinya serta penyederhanaan dari obyek-obyek. Antar kedua ‘obyek’ itu dibiarkan membangun komposisi serta keharmonisannya sendiri. Segera bisa kita nilai pula, tidak semata mengenai keharmonisan tetapi terkandung pula sebuah ‘tegangan’ melalui perpaduan kedua hal itu, yaitu ‘tegangan’ yang bisa kita analisis lebih jauh sebagai refleksi ketidakmurnian, ketidaknormalan, paradoks atau ketidaklaziman; atau sebutlah refleksi terjadinya anomali genre abstrak ini dalam konteks di Indonesia. Bertolak dari kedua hal tersebut, dengan demikian Hansen bisa kita pandang sebagai salah seorang pelukis ‘abstrak’ yang tengah mengajukan problematika abstrakisme di Indonesia.
Sebagaimana kita ketahui, banyak pengamat seni rupa kita yang berusaha memahami bahwa tidak sepenuhnya akurasi praktik seni lukis abstrak di Indonesia bisa kita samakan begitu saja dengan praktik serupa di Barat. Meskipun demikian bukan berarti lahirnya abstrakisme di Indonesia hanya berdasarkan kebetulan-kebetulan atau praktik yang lahir begitu saja. Bagaimanapun juga sulit dipungkiri, kemunculan abstrakisme diakibatkan oleh persinggungan antara seniman-seniman kita dengan pelbagai metode Barat. Pada titik ini, akademi seni rupa boleh dipandang sebagai salah satu agen yang mengawali perkenalan seniman dengan abstrakisme tersebut. Perdebatan mengenai abstrakisme pada akhirnya memang tidak berhasil membulatkan sebuah rumusan, khususnya apakah benar abstrakisme di Indonesia lahir secara orisinal melalui tangan seniman kita – tanpa dipengaruhi metode Barat. Yang kita temui, barangkali, hanyalah hamparan sejumlah pintu masuk untuk memulai kembali diskusi mengenai persoalan ini.
Ahmad Sadali –guru seni lukis abstrak terkemuka- mungkin salah seorang yang mencoba menampik premis yang mengatakan bahwa seni lukis abstrak di Indonesia mutlak dipengaruhi metode Barat. Pada awal tahun 1980an, di salah satu tulisannya, dia menarik persoalan abstrakisme sebagai sebuah praktik yang telah lama dilakukan serta bersemayam di dalam kebudayaan Indonesia. Alasan Sadali jelas, bahwa kecenderungan abstrakisme di Indonesia telah dibuktikan melalui sejumlah motif-motif atau corak-corak pada artefak budaya di sepanjang nusantara yang menjauhi representasi. Di dalam artikel tersebut, Ahmad Sadali merumuskan bahwa asas antropomorpho-naturrealis semacam yang ada di Barat sesungguhnya tidak pernah dikenal di daerah-daerah peradaban Timur.

Bagi Ahmad Sadali asas antropomorpho-naturrealism diyakini sebagai cara pelukisan representatif yang menganggap manusia sebagai sentral yang puncaknya kita saksikan di dalam kebudayaan Barat. Asas ini kemudian menjadi dogma proses kreasi seorang seniman dan pengaruhnya sampai pula pada kebudayaan daerah di belahan dunia. Asas ini konon mengutamakan kemahiran gambar anatomi maupun perspektif. Dalam tradisi klasik Yunani, seniman menggambari dewa-dewi mereka dalam wujud manusia. Lukisan-lukisan di Kepulauan Nusantara pun tidak memperlihatkan kecenderungan ‘realis-naturalis’, melainkan selalu memperlihatkan abstraksi, sesuai dengan “ideal oriental”. Ahmad Sadali juga menilai perbedaan bahwa hakikat abstraksi itu penyimpangan dari representasi ‘murni’; sedangkan abstrak adalah istilah untuk menyatakan pelukisan yang sama-sekali non-representatif. Faktanya manusia Timur memang tidak mengenal representasi dalam keseniannya kecuali simbol dan perlambangan. Pendek kata, manusia Timur lebih akrab dengan dekoratif, ornamen, simbolisme dan bentuk-bentuk stilasi sebagai ekspresi kesenian mereka.

Hampir senada dengan provokasi Sadali, kritikus Trisno Sumardjo berusaha membela ‘abstrakisme’ dengan dalih bahwa kecenderungan deformasi, stilasi bentuk telah lama dipraktikkan oleh budaya Indonesia. Di tahun 1950an ketika S. Sudjojono menganjurkan setiap pelukis agar kembali ke realisme. Trisno membantah bahwa: “Rakyat kita tidak hanya mengerti realisme, melainkan juga cara-cara lain, sebab umumnya rakyat dari dahulu kala telah mengenal deformasi, baik dalam bentuk maupun warna. Perhatikan wayang-wayang kulit, relief-relief Borobudur, patung-patung serta lukisan Bali dsb. Bukankah hal-hal yang ekspresif, stylistis dan dekoratif di dalamnya itu jauh dari realisme?”.
Pro-kontra mengenai praktik seni lukis abstrak di Indonesia memuncak pada dasawarsa 1950an, ketika dua kubu yang berseberangan antara Lekra dan Manifes Kebudayaan saling melancarkan argumentasi mengenai jenis kesenian ini. Seni lukis bergaya abstrak dianggap menyimpang dari adat umum praktik seni rupa yang pada masa itu berideologi nasionalisme-kerakyatan. Seni lukis abstrak dituduh sebagai salah satu genre yang mengelabui mata orang dengan bentuk-bentuk yang tidak berpijak pada realita hidup. Genre yang kadang disebut sebagai non-objective art atau non-representational art ini disesalkan oleh kubu Lekra dan secara ekstrim dipahami sebagai representasi dari neo-kolonialisme kebudayaan Barat terhadap Indonesia. Selain memang tidak sejalan dengan garis-garis besar kebijakan revolusi Bung Karno, berbekal premis itulah, Lekra menolak praktik seni lukis abstrak di tanah air.
Dasar-dasar penolakan mereka yang diiringi demontrasi kekuatan politik setidaknya memicu kembali polemik kebudayaan, sementara itu di sisi lain berhasil menciptakan kesalahpahaman orang terhadap seni lukis abstrak untuk sekian lama. Dari pemahaman ini bisa dibilang Lekra telah melakukan kealpaan yang demikian parah.
Abstrakisme memang ‘ditemukan’ di Barat, namun bukan berarti Barat satu-satunya pihak yang patut dianggap mengawali kepeloporan genre ini. Persoalan ini, (kita harus belajar pada sejarah pertikaian antara Lekra-Manifes Kebudayaan) harus dilihat secara proporsional. Pada titik inilah, setidaknya kita bisa memahami konteks karya abstrak Hansen sebagai manifestasi yang mengharapkan terciptanya wacana seni lukis abstrak yang memadai dan – ya, itu tadi – secara proporsional. Bahwa di Timur, tak selamanya sebuah obyek bisa disarikan, dipertukarkan atau dimutasikan sebagai esensi dari obyek itu sendiri sehingga menghapus jejak (indeks) sebuah tanda. Adakalanya Timur masih memandang perlu menampilkan kehadiran obyek-obyek apa adanya (immutable objects), masih tetap ingin mengingatkan orang pada wujud aslinya.
Aminudin TH. Siregar
Kurator Galeri Soemardja

 

Immutable Objects
Texts by Aminudin TH. Siregar

In 2006, when I saw Hansen for the first time, his latest work emerged two contradictory problems at the same time, paintings with figurative tendencies which also indicated some approaches to abstract. These approaches to abstract expressionism were intensely shown in his solo exhibition Celebration of Inner Dancing II in early 2006. At the exhibition, we were faced with some problems related to ‘abstract styles’, particularly when Hansen created many object deformations, combinations of the different paint brush width, textures, liquefied paints and the balance of compositions. Besides that, viewed from his concepts, Hansen tried to establish a link of understandings between West and East aesthetics or in other words, between West’s abstract expressionism and East’s expressionism represented by calligraphy. Needless to say that processes of creating all of his artwork are based on the concepts mentioned above. Meanwhile, Hansen is fully aware of the convergence between West and East might result in an illusion, but he is undeniably conscious that both could lead to a harmony.

As far as I’m concerned, the abstract expressionism really shows Hansen’s strong distinctiveness as an artist. The West-East abstract expressionism is also the focus of his solo exhibition in Soemardja Gallery at this moment, which also has a major appeal in the academic context of Fine Art of ITB. Therefore, displaying Hansen’s acrylic paintings with abstract expressionism problems is very reasonable concerning that Fine Art of ITB is, in history, one of the infamous base-camps – or using Trisno Sumardjo’s legendary term “West Laboratory” –of abstract paintings practices in Indonesia.

First of all, disregard the term abstract as the main focus of Hansen’s paintings tendencies in this exhibition because not all of his paintings are pure abstract, he also painted some base forms of recognizable daily objects. Analyzed from his previous artistic paths, Hansen’s attitude tends to be in between ‘abstraction’ and ‘representation’, between tangible and intangible things.

Hansen is neither fully freeing canvas as a two dimensional medium nor releasing his work from desires to tell stories, like most of the abstract work in the history of Fine Art. His dualism attitude has its own appeal to disclosure abstract painting styles in Indonesia. Furthermore, his efforts to tell stories through paintings are reflected by his ways of naming each painting. These have not only become his unique characteristics, because most of Indonesian abstract artists have the same uniqueness.

For example, in two of his paintings Awareness and Dance with the Wind (2007), we can see shapes like teapot and hairdryer. Another example is Empty Mind #2 (2007), of which a bottle was blatantly painted. In each painting, Hansen divided the canvas into parts where chosen objects were placed as if each object could not be changed or was presumably immutable to the deformation itself. Thus, his paintings keep two important matters, real form objects and simplification of objects that freely compositing themselves into a harmony. We can also conclude that his paintings not only resulting in a harmony but also resulting some ‘tensions’ between those two matters which are analyzed as reflections of impurity, abnormality, paradox or eccentricity; or presumed as reflections of origins of abstract genre in Indonesia’s context. In summary, Hansen can be categorized as one of abstract painters who is emerging the issues of abstract expressionism in Indonesia.

As we all know, many of our art observers and art critics try to comprehend that the accuracy of abstract paintings practices in Indonesia is not the same as the one in the Western countries. However, the birth of abstract expressionism in Indonesia was not based on coincidences or accidental practices. Even so, it is undeniable that the rising of abstract expressionism was caused by the correlation between our artists and different methods of the West. At this point, fine art academy is seen as one agent that introduces artists to abstract expressionism. Debates about abstract expressionism could not reach a conclusion of its own description, especially regarding to the question is it true that abstract expressionism in Indonesia originally initiated by our own artists without the influences from the West methods? What we might find is, probably, only many doors which lead to further discussions related to this matter.

Ahmad Sadali, a famous abstract painting guru, could be the only person who tries to contradict the principles stating that abstract paintings in Indonesia are absolutely influenced by West methods. In early 1980s, in one of his writings, he issued that abstract expressionism had been practiced and had been resided within Indonesian culture for long. Ahmad Sadali’s reasons are very clear that Indonesia’s abstract expressionism tendencies were original which proven by some motifs or some patterns in its cultural artifacts all over Indonesia far from representations. In his article, he also concluded that the basis of antropomorpho- naturrealism similar to the one in the West was never really identified in different places in the Eastern world.

To Ahmad Sadali, he is convinced that the basis of antropomorpho- naturrealism is a method of representative paintings which considers human as the centre and reaches the peak as can be seen in the Western culture. The basis of antropomorpho- naturrealism has become the dogma for artists in their processes of creation spreading the influence throughout the world affecting local cultures. This basis most importantly focuses on skills of anatomy drawing and perspective drawing. In Greek’s classic tradition, all artists painted their god and goddesses in the form of human. Paintings in Indonesia are merely the same, not showing ‘realist- naturalist’ tendencies but always showing abstraction, relevant to “ideal oriental”. Ahmad Sadali also thinks that differences in the base of abstraction are diversified from ‘pure’ representation; and abstract itself is a term used to describe absolute non-representative paintings. The facts remain that people in the East are not familiar with representations of their art, just as symbols and signs. In short, people in the East are more familiar with decoration, ornament, symbolism, and intangible forms as their expressions of art.

Similar to Sadali’s provocation, critic Trisno Sumardjo tries to defend abstract expressionism with a theory that deformation tendencies and intangible forms have been long practiced by Indonesian culture. In the 1950s when S. Sudjono recommended every artist to refer back to realism, Trisno confronted: “Not only do our people understand realism, but they also understand other styles because most of us have known deformation in both forms and colours. Take notice of our traditional shadow puppets (wayang kulit), carvings of Borobudur temple, Balinese sculptures and paintings, etc. Don’t you think this artwork which was expressive, stylistic, and decorative is far from realism?”.

Pros and cons about abstract painting practices in Indonesia reached their peak in the 1950s, when two opposite sides between Lekra and Culture Manifesto were up against each other regarding to this kind of art. Abstract style paintings were considered as a diversification from normal customs of fine art practices at that time which had the nationalism-society ideology. Abstract paintings were accused of being one deceptive genre to mislead everyone’s perceptions with forms which are not from reality of life. This genre which sometimes called non-objective art or non-representational art was regretted by Lekra side and was understood extremely as a representation of West’s neo-colonialism impact to Indonesia. Moreover, not only this art style was crossing Bung Karno’s revolutionary act, but also derived from the premise that Lekra strongly rejected abstract painting practices in Indonesia.

On one hand, their basis of rejection was also accompanied by powerful politic demonstrations which triggered cultural arguments. On the other hand, this condition successfully created misunderstandings towards abstract paintings for a long time. It can be concluded that Lekra had created damaging absenteeism.

Abstract expressionism was ‘founded’ by the people in the West, but they were not the only party that successfully pioneered this genre. However, we have to look at this matter from proportional perspective (having learnt from the history of the conflicts between Lekra and Cultural Manifesto). At this point, at least we can understand the context of Hansen’s abstract painting as a manifesto hoping to create a sufficient and – as mentioned before – a proportional abstract painting milieu. In the East, an object can not always be summarized, exchanged or mutated as an essence of the object itself thus eliminating its symbolic traces (index) because there are times when people in the East still consider the importance of presenting objects blatantly (immutable objects) intended to remind people of the real forms of these objects.

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