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Kondisi Perubahan (The Condition of Change)
Pondok Seni Batu is a community of 14 artists residing in the town of Batu, a small town in the mountainous area of East Java. Established in 1983, the art community has been enjoying a unique atmosphere, thanks to the close-knit relationships among all the members. The 14 artists of Pondok Seni Batu are Koeboe Sarawan, Badrie, Djoeari Soebardja, Slamet Hen Kus, Gusbandi Harioto, Agus Riyanto, Andri Suhelmi, M. Watoni Soeid, Anwar, Bambang BP, Isa Ansory, Hery Poer, Sugiono, and Fadjar Djunaedi. They are all dedicated to share their knowledge among them and strengthen the capabilities and characters of fellow members. Some of the members are graduates from art schools such as the Indonesian Art Institute of Yogyakarta (ISI) and the Art Department of IKIP Malang; others are non-academic or autodidactic artists. These artists have divergent styles of painting. All artist-members of Pondok Seni Batu have been active in exhibiting their works in the various cities and towns in Indonesia.
Within the society, the discourse of the “center of civilization” still lives. It seems as if the culture can only live and prosper in a center, for example in a city. As a consequence, people are swarming into these centers of civilization and become urbanites. The development process in the local society—or those in the fringes or places faraway from the centers—feels the impact of the urbanization. Thence a process of cultural assimilation takes place, in effect making the local identities to become so vague that the local people may be alienated in their own home. We, as artists working outside the “center of civilization,” have actually experienced a cultural urbanization process through the reading of canonical art works. The assimilation process through the great works of the art world makes us urbanites, and feel therefore alienated in the art world constellation. We are, nevertheless, the art urbanites.
In Batu, which they say is an “Entertaining Town of Art and Culture” and an agropolis, art has not become the town's vein. The political cacophony also impacts the artists' work pattern. In Batu, painters usually develop realistic technique of paintings. Some choose to improve on the impressionistic or abstract techniques. The close relationships among the Batu painters nurture individual characteristics, while making all differences work to strengthen each artist. From here arose the idea to choose a stand against the urban meanings in Batu's art world. We stand to be inheritors of the world culture. It seems that time has given us an ample space to play around, deconstruct images that have become historical cultural codes. Amid the alienating history, we nonetheless still want to be involved. (Artist's Statement)
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