Category Archives: Art

Fünf kurze Kurzgeschichten von Ugo Untoro

Dua lembar baju, celana, 3 celana dalam, dan handuk kecil kumasukkan
dalam tas. Lewat pintu belakang aku keluar, satpamku juga tertidur dekat
dengan kurungan herder. Tetapi terlelap.
Anakku, istriku kalau mau ketemu dengan aku tontonlah sirkus keliling.

Ich legte zwei Hemden, ein Paar Hosen, drei Unterhosen und ein kleines Handtuch in meine Tasche. Ich ging durch die Hintertür hinaus. Mein Wachmann befand sich neben dem Zwinger mit dem Schäferhund. Beide schliefen. Mein Sohn, meine Frau, wenn ihr mich sehen wollt, kommt und schaut euch die Zirkusvorstellung an.

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Dasar aku memang klepto, aku di kamar kecil Kereta Api (Train Urinoir) dan aku mencuri papan yang tertulis “Pergunakanlah hanya waktu kereta jalan.” Tidak berhasil karena pecah, bautnya terlalu kencang, BAJINGAN!!

Ich bin wirklich ein Kleptomane, ich war im Zugurinal und stahl das Schild auf dem steht „Nur benutzen wenn der Zug fährt.“ Es ging schief, denn es zerbrach, der Bolzen saß zu fest. BASTARD!!

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Telpon berdering.
“Halo, siapa?”
“Selli mas!”
“Selli?!”
Bekas pacarku dulu sekali, waktu aku masih ingusan dan pemalu banget.
Pegang jarinya saja sudah gemetar, ngomong juga jarang, jadi surat-suratan
terus.
“Berapa anakmu sekarang Sell?”
“Dua mas, cewek-cowok”
“Suamimu dimana?”
Dia ngomong lagi ngebor minyak di Riau. Kami janjian bertemu, dua hari
lagi. Di tengah hujan lebat, di bawah beringi, kutiduri ia dalam mobilku.
Aku tidak pemalu lagi.

Das Telefon klingelte.
„Hallo, wer ist dran?“
„Hier ist Selli!“
„Selli?!“
Sie war meine Freundin als ich noch ganz jung und schüchtern war.
Zu jener Zeit zitterte ich sogar, wenn ich nur ihre Hand hielt. Wir sprachen kaum jemals miteinander, aber wir schickten uns lange Zeit Briefe.
„Wie viele Kinder hast du jetzt, Sell?“
„Zwei, ein Mädchen und einen Jungen.“
„Wo steckt dein Mann?“
Sie sagte, ihr Mann wäre in Riau beim Ölbohren. Wir verabredeten uns für den übernächsten Tag. Im strömenden Regen, unter einem Banyan-Baum, fickte ich sie in meinem Auto.
Ich war nicht mehr schüchtern.

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Anjing hitam tak tau apa yang harus dia perbuat ketika dilihat tuannya
mencari-cari tali, mengikatnya di kusen pintu dan meletakkan kursi rendah di
bawahnya.

Der schwarze Hund wusste nicht, was er tun sollte als er sah, dass sein Herrchen nach einem Seil suchte, es dann am Türrahmen festband und einen Stuhl darunter stellte.

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Nahkodanya kapal Nuh terlalu banyak minum Rum. Sebuah ombak besar
datang menghantam dan langsung tenggelam. Nabi Nuh tidak bisa berenang
dan semua binatang yang dikumpulkannya mati. Hanya sepasang Gagak
yang sempat menyelamatkan diri.
Mereka terbang dan mencari sarang. Beranak pinak, anak cucunya ada
yang kawin sama ikan, gurita, kerang, ubur-ubur, penyu, dan kitalah
keturunannya.

Der Kapitän von Noahs Arche trank zu viel Rum.  Eine gewaltige Welle krachte ins Schiff und es sank sofort. Noah konnte nicht schwimmen und alle Tiere an Bord der Arche wurden getötet. Nur ein Krähenpaar hatte genug Zeit zu fliehen.
Sie flogen davon und suchten nach einem Nistplatz. Dann brüteten sie; einige ihrer Kinder und Enkel heirateten Fische, Tintenfische, Austern, Quallen, Schildkröten, und wir sind ihre Nachfahren.

Aus dem Indonesischen übersetzt von Thomas Hübner

Give Me a Cross

Ugo Untoro: Give Me a Cross, Ölfarbe und Kohle auf Leinwand, 150x100cm, 2008  (Photo Biasa Art Space)

Ugo Untoro: Cerita Pendek Sekali (Kurze Kurzgeschichten), Museum dan Tanah Liat, Bantul, Yogyakarta 2006

© Ugo Untoro, 2006-2008
© Biasa Art Space, 2008 (Photo) 
© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mitsou

“Trouver une chose, c’est toujours amusant; un moment avant elle n’y était pas encore. Mais trouver un chat, c’est inouï! Car ce chat, convenez-en, n’entre pas tout à fait dans votre vie, comme ferait, par exemple, un jouet quelconque tout en vous appartenant maintenant, il reste un peu en dehors, et cela fait toujours: la vie + un chat, ce qui donne, je vous assure, une somme énorme. Perdre une chose, c’est bien triste. Il est à supposer qu’elle se trouve mal, qu’elle se casse quelque part, qu’elle finit dans la déchéance. Mais perdre un chat: non! Ce n’est pas permis.”

“Finding a thing, that‘s always fun; a moment before it was not there yet. But finding a cat, that’s incredible! For this cat, admit it, does not come entirely into your life, as would for example any toy while belonging to you now. It remains a little off, and it always will be: a life + a cat, that adds up to a huge sum, I assure you. Losing a thing is very sad. It has to be assumed that it is in bad condition, that it breaks somewhere, that it ends in decay. But losing a cat: no! That is not allowed.”

A boy finds a stray cat, adopts it and gets more and more attached to it. The two spend a lot of time together and we see them in many everyday situations and small adventures. Then, Mitsou, the cat, disappears again; cats are doing this sometimes, so we don’t need to suspect the worst. But the boy is inconsolable, searches for Mitsou everywhere, but to no avail.

A sad but everyday story of a heartbreaking loss. What makes it extraordinary is the fact that this real-life experience was made into a series of beautiful drawings by the 11-year old boy to whom it happened. Balthasar Klossowski, today known as Balthus, told this story 1919 in 40 drawings that show an already fully accomplished artist. Cats and girls proved to be his lifelong artistic interests. (His brother Pierre was a also a talented painter and a writer.) Stylistically, the drawings resemble woodcuts and a certain influence of the Flemish artist and book illustrator Frans Masereel, who at around the same time published several “novels without words”, can be detected.

Rainer Maria Rilke, who was at that time the lover of Balthus’ mother Baladine, added a foreword in French when Mitsou was first published in 1921 and from which the above quote is taken. Therefore the review is not included in German Literature Month. (Rilke wrote also occasionally poems in French.) 

Mitsou is a very charming and beautiful book. When you love cats or when you just want to enjoy a book with beautiful illustrations, you will like this precious work very much.

Art historian Sabine Rewald, author of the book Balthus: Cats and Girls describes here how she tracked down the surviving complete set of original drawings that were shown for the first time in an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York not long ago. You can see also some samples of these wonderful drawings when you click on the hyperlink.

The English edition of the book is out of print, but you can find this gem with a bit of luck in antiquarian bookstores or online shops. The French and German editions are still available.

Balthus

Mitsou. Forty Images by Balthus. Preface by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Richard Miller, The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Harry N. Abrams, New York 1984

Sabine Rewald: Balthus: Cats and Girls, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 2013

The Rilke quote in this blog post is translated from French by Thomas Hübner.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

An Afternoon in the Museum

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to pay a visit to the newly opened National Art Gallery “Square 500” in Sofia which shows right now a huge exhibition curated by two former museum directors. The exhibition gives an overview over the Bulgarian Museum collections of the National Gallery (for Bulgarian art) and of the National Museum for Foreign Art.

The museum, ridiculously dubbed “the Bulgarian Louvre” by a part of the media and political “elite” of the country was already before its opening subject to many headlines in the media, namely because of the delayed opening and – not completely untypical for Bulgaria – because of alleged irregularities in the procurement and tender process of the reconstruction of the building that houses the museum. A rather big amount of tax payers’ money went into the coffers of the shady construction mogul who – allegedly – won the manipulated tender because he – allegedly – is a friend of the Minister of Culture.

If these rumors are really true I cannot say – but I wouldn’t be surprised. As an art lover I am of course more concerned about the result and I want to give my informed opinion about it here.

The edifice of the building which houses the museum is a late 19th century design in Viennese style, adapted after WWII to the needs of a museum and again changed now by several modern attachments, all in all a worthy location for such a museum.

Most of the artworks I saw in the exhibition were already known to me – except for a few that are borrowed from other collections for this exhibition – it is basically a combination of the works that were housed before in the two separate museums mentioned above. So regarding what I saw I can say: a good overview about Bulgarian art since the 1830s until 1989 (I didn’t see any artwork produced after the collapse of communism – if this reflects a lack of budget for new acquisitions in the last 25 years or a political statement that tells us that there is no good art produced in Bulgaria in the last decades according to the exhibition curators I don’t know), and a – in my opinion not very favorable mix with foreign artworks that are hung frequently together with Bulgarian artists of the same period.

While the Bulgarian art collection is in a way representative (except for the most recent period), the presented examples of foreign art are in most cases mediocre. It is also not visible or explained why the artworks are hung in that specific neighborhood (which frequently has no relation/influence with the respective Bulgarian artist).

Another thing that struck me was the lighting: in some rooms it was really awful and much too intense. Artworks are sensitive items and the light must be carefully balanced between the need to protect it against possible damage and the wish of the visitors to see and study it in the best possible way. The lighting as it is now doesn’t do justice to either of these requirements.

I had also the impression that the plates which describe the artwork have been done in the very last moment; there are frequently four or five of such very basic paper clippings stuck to the wall in one place and the visitor has to guess which plate belongs to which artwork. It looks cheap and inadequate.

Alas, the most surprising thing for me was something else: when you prepare such an exhibition which shows a considerable part of the visual art heritage of the country and which many people would like to see, you should make sure that people really see it when they visit the building. My guess is that a lot of the visitors will not have seen many of the artworks because the orientation in the exhibition is very very difficult.

The exhibition covers several floors and the whole building is a little bit like a labyrinth – there are only a few (very small) arrows that guide the visitors, room numbers are missing frequently, as a visitor you stumble from 19th century Bulgarian art to Christian Indian art from Goa, to Japanese woodcuts, and you have never an idea what comes next or what you have probably missed when you have once chosen a direction that was not the one intended by the exhibition makers (but which you can only guess). Friends who visited the exhibition told me for example that they almost didn’t find the room with the artwork of Vladimir Dimitrov-Maistora, one of the most famous Bulgarian painters, and only because of their persistence they found the hidden room where his paintings from the collection are displayed. And I am sure I saw – probably! – all works only because I am a very persistent visitor. Just when I prepared to leave I realized I had missed a complete flight of rooms with four more exhibition rooms!

That the museum shop where you can buy the exhibition catalogue and many other catalogues and books is hidden in a corner at the very edge of the outermost corner of the building and not in the entrance area where it belongs adds to the picture. The exhibition makers could easily print a small map on the backside of the ticket for orientation – this small thing would add indeed a lot of value for the visitors. But no, you have to pay 10 Leva (5 Leva for students, pensioners, unemployed), a proud amount considering the average salaries of the Bulgarians – and then you are on your own in the building. 

A nuisance: while most living Bulgarian artists are not at all represented in the exhibition, the Minister of Culture, Mr. Razhidov, a sculptor of modest talent has two of his own artworks in the show. It reminds me of the fact that when I visited the last time the small gallery in the Ministry of Culture it displayed an exhibition with works of – the Minister. Remember Alek Popov’s description of the visiting sculptor in his Mission London? I am not sure but my strong guess is that it is based on a real person most Bulgarians know…

That even if Mr. Razhidov would be a second Giacometti it would not be appropriate to include his own artworks in any exhibitions sponsored by the Ministry he leads seems to have never crossed his mind. It is called “Conflict of Interest” and borders the territory of outright corruption. He uses his position and taxpayers’ money to increase his popularity and potential market value as an artist. And of course he gets away with it. Also a part of the “Culture” he is promoting.

Conclusion: if you are in Sofia and are interested in Bulgarian art, this exhibition is a must. The collection itself is the by far best in that field in Bulgaria or anywhere else, the result of decades of diligent collecting. (When Lyudmila Zhivkova, the daughter of the dictator Todor Zhivkov was de facto in charge of the collection, it increased considerably – mainly by acquiring fake artworks she was tricked into buying by some clever crooks.) That this extraordinary show is so poorly prepared and presented is a pity and shows again the lack of professionalism that is so typical for many of those people who are politically responsible for Bulgarian Culture. 

Zograf_self

Zahari Zograf, Self-portrait, National Art Gallery Sofia, ca. 1840

The exhibition can be visited at the building of the National Gallery of Foreign Art, Sofia, 19 February Str. No.1, near the Cathedral Alexander Nevski 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or 
duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The first painting

Comics and Street Art are among the major influences of contemporary art in Indonesia.
One of the most influential groups in this field was the (now defunct) Apotik Komik, created in 1997 in Yogyakarta.

Yogyakarta is the art capital of Indonesia. The most prestigeous art school, the ISI (Indonesian Institute of Art) is located there and young artists from all over the country come to the old capital of Indonesia to study. And most of them stay in Yogya afterwards. Art is therefore present in everyday life in this city, and not only in the many museums, galleries and art spaces, but also in the streets. Hundreds and hundreds of mural paintings are scattered all over
the city.

The members of Apotik Komik (Samuel Indratma, Popok Tri Wahyudi, Arie Dyanto and a few others) are now well-established artists in Indonesia and also well-known abroad.

PopokChosen

Popok Tri Wahyudi, The Chosen, 2005, oil on canvas, ca. 68x120cm, Collection Thomas Huebner 

When I was living in Yogya, I was therefore already quite familiar with the style of Apotik Komik and other street and comic artists, when I one day saw the above painting in an auction in Jakarta. It became the first artwork I bought in Indonesia.

The work is typical for the style of Popok Tri Wahyudi (born 1973, lives in Yogya). It is strongly influenced by his comics, but compresses a whole story in just one picture. As is usual in his work, he is not so much interested in depicting individual persons, but shows more the archetypical features of people by their gestures and movements, mimic or color that is used.

The central figure, the ‘Chosen’ is surrounded by a group of people that react differently to his obvious suffering (or gift). The man in the blue shirt seems to be curious and is stretching his hand in the direction of the flames, like to see if they are for real or maybe in order to warm his hands. The person left to him seems in the contrary to be shocked and frightened. The other men in the background turn away their faces from the event, one of them as if in embarrassment, the other one looking to the ground but bringing also a towel that might later be used by the ‘Chosen’. Also the man in front of the ‘Chosen’ turns away from him in order not to see his suffering. But he seems ready to help the man with the burning hands by providing a tub with water. The woman right next to the ‘Chosen’ is the only one that has physical contact with the ‘Chosen’ and tries to comfort him by touching his head who is placed in her lap.

The yellow and red colors are dominating and the impression you get looking at the painting
is very strong. How would you react if you were one of the people on the painting?

Recently the artist has been travelling quite a lot, e.g. he stayed at Schloss Solitude near Stuttgart/Germany as a participant of a residency programme. He published also the comic ‘The Light House’ in 2009 in which he is describing in a humorous form his experiences with the difficulties of multidisciplinary cooperation between artists from different cultures during his time as a Solitude stipendiary.

Popok The Lighthouse

Popok Tri Wahyudi: The Light House, Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart 2009

 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.