The Legend World of “the Engraver” Irwanto Lentho

June 7, 2011

Berlomba Untuk Pulang (Racing for Go Home), 200cmx122cm, woodcut, stencil and hand colouring on canvas, 2011.

By Winarto

Paying close attention to Irwanto Lentho’s works we will be firstly surprised by thousands thin lines which be background and  parts of  figures such as a human beings or animals like as horses, zebras, elephants or birds. Thin lines and circles are true specific character of Irwanto Lentho’s graphical arts. Looking at the thousands of the lines we will ask: how did the artist able create those all?  Sure, this work needs very high skills, meticulousness and patience.

Our feeling of amazement to the artist will  rise when we know that these thousands lines and circles that form figures are not result of brush sweepings, but as the scratch on the wood (hardboard) which are printed on canvas.

It can’t be denied that his twenty works presented in Bentara Budaya, Jakarta, on May 26 – June 4, are the proof of the advanced  skill and capability of Irwanto Lentho in mastery of woodcut art technique. In this context it is so  perfect when he took the title “The Engraver” (Sang Pencukil) for his solo exhibition here.

Nevertheless, this word “The Engraver” refers not only to the high rank of his skill in woodcut arts. In his curatorial notes, TH Aminudin Siregar said, the use of “The Engraver” or “The Grabber” suggest a statement of attitude which will to negate the position of this term in  social field. Negation can mean “difference” between terms to other terms which also equal, for example: “painter” or “sculptor”. The term “The Grabber” may add the vocabulary of terms in art practices. Maybe in future, we can directly mention “the engraver” for the artist who specifically work the technique of woodcut. “Irwanto doesn’t use the term “The Grafter” that evaluated by Irwanto too generic, general and fails to identify the characteristic of work he will do,” noted Aminudin.

The world of Legend

Out of technical matter, the power of Irwanto Lentho’s works are looked in his ideas. His graphical paintings here present the themes which are seemed so modest ones. Look at Irwanto Lentho’s works we feel to enter the world of legend. Here we can meet many kind of animals that are so friendly and some persons who can communicate and make close relationship with the animals.

Some of Irwanto Lentho's work in his solo exhibition, Bentara Budaya, Jakarta, May 26-June 4, 2011Like reading the legend stories we can easily catch the plot because of the way of telling the story that so simple. But in general the legend stories have certain messages about morality such as honesty, fairness, love, friendship and solidarity. So do Irwanto Lentho’s works. Behind the simplicities his works offer something to be contemplated.

Look at his work, “Racing for Go Home” (Berlomba Untuk Pulang). This work which in big enough size (200 cm x 122 cm) shows three girls ride on zebras racing to each other. The three zebras are flying above buildings and their foots have toothed wheels. This make we think about the reality of modern life where individuals compete to each other, want to be come first, to be number one in all aspects of life. The three riders which are all woman here may related to gender issues recently.

His other painting, “Compelling the Wish” (Memaksakan Keinginan), tells about someone rides on a big bird like as Flamingo. This person wears attributes like as a pilot captain’s ones and his hand holds a paper propeller. The bird is seemed so tired with his too big stomach and a golden fish in it’s beak.  We may interpret this picture as an illustration about  human ambition that bigger than their abilities to realize it. More sarcastic, it is about the greed of a human being.

In “Learning about Love” (Belajar Kasih Sayang) Irwanto asks us to learn from Kangaroos which always carry their children in their “stomach pocket”.

Irwanto Lentho was born in Sukoharjo, a little town in Centre of Java, on April 4, 1979.  He has some awards such as a Finalist of Philip Moris Art Awards 2001, a Finalist of the Indonesian Graphical Art Triennial II 2006, The Second Winner of Indonesian Graphical Art III 2009, and a Nominee of Indonesian Art Award 2010.

His works has been exhibited in many cities in Indonesia and foreign. After in Bentara Budaya Jakarta, this solo exhibition “Sang Pencukil” will be held in Bali, Jogjakarta and Surakarta on next July and August.

See more other Exhibition Reviews


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