Kartika Affandi

June 24, 2009

Born to be An Artist

It seems that Kartika Affandi was born to be a painter. It was her father’s love which made her became an artist. Affandi, her father, is an Indonesian painting art maestro. Affandi really loves his family, and Kartika is very special for him. On the contrary, Kartika always looks at his father as a wonderful figure. She loves him and respect to his works. The lovely relationship between the father and his daughter can be inspected in their works. Kartika’s figure, when she was a baby, a child or a teenager, can be founded in Affandi’s works. It is also in Kartika’s works we can find many kind of Affandi’s face. Even, Kartika has made a hundred series of his father’s figure. “The face of my father is still giving me the spirit to live,” said Kartika about Affandi. The beloved artist, Affandi, died in 1990 at the age of 83.

Kartika Affandi at an event in Taiwan, August 2008 (Source: http://kdei-taipei.org)

Kartika Affandi at an event in Taiwan, August 2008 (Source: http://kdei-taipei.org)

Kartika was born in 1934. She started learning to paint since her seventh years old under Affandi’s instruction. She acknowledged that initially she painted just for her pleasure. “I wanted to paint only for my own enjoyment, not take orders from other people. I painted what I ¬†could see around me,” she said. Nevertheless, then, public knew and respected to her works. Since 1980th Kartika has become one of a small group of women in Indonesia who succeded in exhibiting their works regularly in national and international events.

Kartika’s works are unique, ¬†ranging from conventional to subversive. In a culture where the individual self rarely is put to the fore, Kartika had made the self-portrait one of her main themes. In a society where emotion is suppressed, both publicly and privately, Kartika fills her canvases with intense feeling. In culture where genitals are considered taboo in representation, Kartika has painted her own nudity graphically and without the prescribed, distancing sweetness, never depicting the body as an object of pleasure, whether that of others or her own.

Following in the populist footsteps of Affandi, Kartika also has a long history of painting rural and/or dispossessed people such as fishermen, farmers, workers and beggars. Since these individuals pose while interacting with her and exchanging life histories as she paints, these must be considered portraits. Although narrative, her paintings when viewed close up dissolve into strong, abstract statements in energetically applied impasto oils. Kartika’s work ranges from the sweet and idyllic to an expressive realism that can be harsh. The latter is evident in her paintings of beggar, handicapped people and suffering animals and in her uncompromising depiction of the progress of old age, whether painting a stranger, her father, or herself.

Now, at her age of 70th Kartika is still active to paint and exhibit her works around the world. Beside her activities as an artist, Kartika enjoys her life with her numerous grandchildren.

See another Painter Profile: Ida Bagus Made Poleng, Rudolf Bonnet, Affandi, Walter Spies, Heri Dono



The Jakarta Post, March 06, 2007

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