Solo Exhibition

Save Our Heritage

Sunday, June 8th 2008
Hotel Salak, Bogor
Opening ceremony by Mr. Diani Budiarto (Bogor’s Mayor)

The Lure of Bogor in Hanny Widjaja's Painting

Edited from Agus Dermawan's review of Hanny Widjaja's painting in her solo exhibition Save Our Heritage

Painting from the heart

Viewing her paintings we can chart and order the themes by what she favors. The theme of people's life, which generally concerns the grassroots, comes first. The second favored theme is nostalgia by which she invites us into the transquil olden-time Bogor. The third theme is that of natural surroundings and panoramas, which portrays the views of present-day Bogor.

I get the feeling that Hanny's theme of people's life springs from a form of profound sensibility. And the sensibility has grown with her empathetic observation of human events. She looks at people's various ways of life and occupations not only with her eyes but alse her heart. One of her paintings depicts a traveling shoerepaire at work by a street while take the heat of the sun uncomplainingly. The shoe repairer's earnestness as depicted in this work just gives a trait of the painter's profound empathy with which she observers the grassroots struggling for life. The painting is entitled Tukang Sol di Terik Matahari [Repairing Shoe on a Sunny Day].

In another painting she depicts a handyman busily handling his trade sharpening a knife. We notice how his tools are installed on the bike he pedals here and there offering the service - practicality that is uniquely Indonesian and rarely found in other countries. The painting is entitled Pengasah Gunting [Scissors Sharpener]. In her other paintings she deals with the subjects of the sellers of fried bean sprouts, bananas, juicy tubers, taros, and most fresh Bogor characteristic agricultural produce. Amid joyful work, rain will sometimes come inducing poetry. Hanny takes records of such moments wholeheartedly.

"All work is noble, work is alone noble", said Giosue Carducci (1836-1907) an Italian poet and thinker. And work alone, no matter what it is, dignifies a person. Hanny translates the statement into her visual work that is always touching to some extent.

The nostalgic theme features in the depictions of old-styled houses and buildings as seen in Bogor Dulu Sekali [Bogor Very Long Time Ago]. This painting is rendered in monochromatic sepia classically associative of old albums. The house depicted in the painting stands wonderfully in an area with plenty of trees. The street is deserted. In front of the house a convertible car, that resemble a Chevy, is seen. The brick fences are very low, to imply that people dont't have to worry about security.

In Kenangan Jembatan Merah [Memory of Red Bridge] we can see a depiction of an area known as Jembatan Merah - literally means 'red bridge' - when it was still a quiet place. A modest structure stands on the roadside providing a sort of oasis for passers-by. A bicycle and a buggy are seen moving away along the clean, idyllic street.

Hanny's paintings of this kind remind us of topographic works by J.C. Rappard, F.C.T. Deelemen, F. Danex, G. Loten, J. Brandes, C.W.M. van de Velde, and other Dutch artists of over a century ago.

By Agus Dermawan T.
A critic and an author of books on art