Exhibition of Kompas Short Story Illustration

July 14, 2009

When Illustration was Loosen From It’s Story

By Winarto

Every year for the latest five years the greatest newspaper in Indonesia, Kompas daily, held the exhibition of  short story illustrations. This year the exhibition runs at Bentara Budaya art building, Jakarta, Indonesia, in July 1-5th, 2009. This event presented 53 original paintings which have been short story illustrations published by Kompas in 2008.

Exhibition of "Kompas" Short Story Illustration, Jakarta, July 1-5, 2009

Exhibition of "Kompas" Short Story Illustration, Jakarta, July 1-5, 2009

This exhibition, I think, is so interesting. Its usual that a short story illustration is created by an artist that actually works for the newspaper publishing the story. It means that the artist makes illustration for all short stories published by the newspaper. But Kompas has a different and unique way. For each short story Kompas asks a special artist to create illustration. This way gives  support to the artist to work more seriously.

In fact  the works of the artists are better technically than usual short story illustration which published by another newspapers mostly. Kompas short story illustrations are more colorful. So, its easy to understand that Kompas wants to exhibit the illustrations in their original painting version.

Nevertheless, when the exhibition runs there is a question. How we can interpret the illustrations which are loosen from the story? Logically, a short story illustration is intended to visualize the story meaning. On the contrary the story becomes a reference to interpret the illustration. Now, when an illustration loosen from the story  can it make a new meaning itself? How do we look at the such “illustration”?

"Serenade Kunang-kunang" (Firefly Serenade) by Yuswantoro Adi

"Serenade Kunang-kunang" (Firefly Serenade) by Yuswantoro Adi

Function of Illustration

In the exhibition catalog book, Bambang Bujono writes that an illustration does not able to visualize the story’s content  entirely or perfectly. Even if an illustration is created by the story author such as the work of Danarto. Danarto himself made illustration for his short story “Pantura”.  In this case we may be still in different opinion about the question: “Does the illustration of Danarto’s short story visualize story’s content perfectly?”

The Indonesian great poet Sapardi Joko Damono said that “illustration freezes our imagination, so illustration just disturbing”. Its maybe right. Each reader is actually free for making interpretation about a story. Interpretation of each reader can be different to each other. If so, what function of illustration for a short story? Is an illustration necessary?

Illustration for shor story "Rumah untuk Kemenakan" (House for a Nephew) by Galam Zulkifli

Illustration for shor story "Rumah untuk Kemenakan" (House for a Nephew) by Galam Zulkifli

The answer is depend on each reader. We can read a story without care about the illustration, or we can see the illustration for interpreting the story. Out of this issue, an illustration has an aesthetical function to make  newspaper pages more colorful. A newspaper page without photos or illustrations will be boring.  Even advertising photos or illustrations make newspaper pages more interesting.

I myself when came in exhibition room tried not to read the short stories presented on one side of the wall. I wanted to enjoy the paintings with their autonomic meaning, not be framed by “messages” of the short story previously.  So I could interpret the paintings as like as my imagination.

Actually from 53 works there were some works I liked. They were for instance the works of I Gusti Ngurah Udiantara for short story Tanah Merah (The Red Land), Laksmi Shitaresmi for Namaku Loman, Zen Loman (My Name is Loman, Zen Loman), Galam Zulkifli for Rumah untuk Kemenakan (House for a Nephew), Danarto for his short story himself  Pantura (Pantura Road), Yuswantoro Adi for  Serenade Kunang-Kunang (Firefly Serenade), and I Putu Edy Asamara Putra for the short story Apalah Nama (What is a Name).

These some paintings have simple colors and technical choices, but able to present strong impressed images.  Look at, for instance, the work of Galam Zulkifli. The very sadness impression we can catch from a face in extreme close up with dark red and dark blue colors domination. Also, the work of Danarto. A white building seems alone and so faraway in  elementary colors sweep of blue, green and brownish red with thin swept white. The peace and beauty we can enjoy from Yuswantoro Adi’s work which shows two little girls are looking at the night atmosphere.

In general, the works of Kompas short stories illustration are actually not so special, but they are suitable to be exhibited. And finally, its each audience will decide which work is special or not.

3 Responses to Exhibition of Kompas Short Story Illustration

  1. Agus Suwage | we-painting.com on August 4, 2009 at 11:31 am

    […] Policy « Exhibition of Kompas Short Story Illustration Heri Dono […]

  2. […] There were about 30 artists presenting their works in this event. Some of them were Adi Gunawan, Agapetus Kristiandana, Bambang Heras, Djoko Pekik, Entang Wiharso, Ipong Purnamasidhi, I Wayan Kun Adnyana, Nasirun, Teguh Ostentrik, Nurkholis, and Yuswantoro Adi. […]

  3. Best Recumbent Exercise Bike on June 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Great post! I started following your blog about a month ago and I like your honesty. Good example to emulate.

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