Christine Park Gallery is delighted to present Bed Chamber, a solo exhibition featuring works on cloth and buffalo hide by Jumaadi.
Jumaadi (b. 1973) is an Indonesian-Australian multidisciplinary artist. For his first exhibition in New York, he presents works inspired by ideas of closeness and separation, dreams and reality. Using buffalo hide, which has been used as artistic medium in different cultures since ancient times, Jumaadi chooses to focus on a material that is widely used in traditional Indonesian paintings, in particular on the islands of Bali and Java. The exhibition’s main work, Bed Chamber is executed on cloth, which is softer than buffalo hide and thinner than canvas. The artist also emphasises that “painting on cloth narrows the distance between drawing and painting, between ethnic and contemporary art, between handicrafts and art, and between many things that can lessen our distrust of other things”.
JumaadiA Wedding Dress, 2018
Hide has been used as a painting surface long before paper, cloth and canvas. In Bali and Java, buffalo hide is known as the material for the traditional leather puppets featured in the wayang, the traditional shadow puppet theatre to which all the works in this exhibition owe a great debt.
JumaadiA Wedding Dress, 2018
I have been interested in trees and wedding dresses for a very long time. I love trees maybe because I grew up in the farm and I did a lot of hiking during my teenage years. My interest in wedding dresses is perhaps due to the color that resembles dried leaves that have been left behind by life. Fragile but complete.
In this work, the wedding dress seems to have been left behind by its owner. She went to a place that nobody knows. What is happening to her? The other possibility is that a boy is putting the wedding dress onto the branch of a tree. The tree grows and becomes the bridegroom. Let’s say it can be trees, mountains, seas, the moon that become the bridegroom. Hearsay there are many invisible brides accompanying us in our journey of life, in the other world.
Trees grow branches. In Arabic, history means "trees". In Wayang performance, in the middle of the segment, there is the tree of life in a triangle form, like a mountain. The wedding dress is torn, signifying that time keeps ticking and moving, and flies away. What is happening? It is not important because memories are recorded in the wind.
The idea of the exhibition came about in a situation where we find ourselves socially distanced. We get closer to one another in ways that are new and with more dependency on technology.
JumaadiBed Chamber, 2019
The origins of painting in Indonesia have been rediscovered thanks to the cave drawings of Sulawesi, Papua and Kalimantan. In addition to the caves, paintings are found on a variety of mediums, including wooden house panels, paper, cloth, puppets, sculpture and so on. These approaches to painting on non-canvas surfaces appeal to me and I am interested in exploring further.
I lived in Bali between 2009 and 2011. After that, I often visited the island and stayed there for several months at a time. In Bali, I learnt a lot about traditional art, particularly painting, sculpture and drama. Being in such close proximity to traditional painting made a great impression on me and drove me to develop the existing practice.
DETAILJumaadi, Bed Chamber, 2019
Most traditional Balinese paintings on cloth portray narratives from Hindu religious epics, the Panji stories; some artists depict colonial histories and the spread of Islam. The main difference between my work and tradition relates to the development of new themes and compositions, as well as a more unrestricted approach to art making. I explore the same themes that usually fill my work, such as love, proximity and distance, discovery and absence.
After almost ten years of studying and investigating Balinese classical art, particularly from the village of Kamasan in East Bali, I am pushing myself to make art with the same materials that Balinese artists have been using for hundreds of years. In producing this work, I received a great deal of technical assistance from the artists of Kamasan.
The processes of creating these works are based on reconsiderations between normality and abnormality, that present a layer of composition from double narrations that are of opposite nature. For example, are people distancing themselves or closing in, hugging or about to let go.
JumaadiLovers and Rain, 2020
Rain has been my source of inspiration for many years, as it reminds me of tears and Pablo Neruda's poem Rain (Rapa Nui).
Rain is made of water and is the basis of life. I am not sure if there is anything more romantic than lovers hugging in the rain. They are like ferns, or a pair of trees in the forest. Their legs and bodies suck and absorb the essence of life that is falling from the sky. Roots grow from their legs and create a wooden boat.
JumaadiA Couple of Angels, 2019-2020
Like many other paintings, this work explores and questions the concept of love. It focuses on two different scenarios. Is this pair of angels living in the shadow under the pouring rain and below the lake? Are they flying in the clouds above the sky and between the trees? None of these perspectives is wrong. It is our belief that angels come from another world, or perhaps from a fairy tale, in the manner of fairies or other out-of-this-word creatures. As a Javanese Muslim, I believe that the "other" world (the world of spirituality) does exist inside us and is more real than the world we live in.
For a long time, I have been admiring all kinds of wings, the ones proper to butterflies, dragonflies, birds, as well as dried leaves that look like wings and the scarves in Javanese dance.
JumaadiIn Between Islands, 2019
"No man is an island"¹. We are made of different islands that depend upon each other. The two lovers in this work are angels. They are challenging the strong currents before fate separates them.
1. J. Donne, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, 1624
There is failure to fill something but in there you find love, the missing love. Quietness, seasons, isolation, wrong place, wrong growth, sweet, bitter, funny, silly, human, natural, lies, honesty, confusion, no control, poem, singing, feeling, fear, rise and fall, they are all cramming in a room.
This work has been inspired to me by Paul Gauguin and Philip Guston. The curtains with red flowers wrap the bed like white and thick hair frame an old woman's face. I have been painting hair using this style for a very long time as it reminds me of a mother's braided hair.
JumaadiGoing Nowhere, 2019
This work is inspired by a dance drama that I saw in 1996 in Surabaya called The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro, choreographed by the famous Sardono W Kusumo. Prince Diponegoro was a Javanese prince who fought against the Dutch in the early 1800s. This war was financially draning for the Dutch army. During one of the dance scenes, the prince is with a women who is giving him a massage while tiptoeing on her feet and walking on the prince’s back. A very intimate and original portrayal of Java, depicting closeness between two human beings.
Soft walks side by side with hard, hollow with full, quietness and chaos, where the ticking time is not going hand in hand with your heartbeat. There is failure to fill something but in there you find love, the missing love.
JumaadiSnake Wedding, 2018
This work represents the entanglement between two lovers. Their closeness raises questions on the meaning of eternity. Eternity is an event that is frozen in memories and crystallised into quietness.
One of the most beautiful things in nature is the body of a snake. Snakeskin and its repeating patterns have inspired the art world since the origin of time.
Drawing this work was not an easy process. At first, I used pencil but the marks slowly disappeared, making it difficult for the carver to follow them.
When we cannot find the missing marks, we loose our sense of direction. However, we are also simultaneously triggered and challenged to finding a new rhythm. The carver is pushed not to follow a pre-existing pattern, opening up new directions and a potential for abstraction instead of pure illustration.
These works have been, have occupied and have owned a few houses. From a small table in Sydney, a small studio in the middle of the forest in Imogiri in Indonesia, an old village in Kamasan, Bali. We move back and forth from one place to the other, living in a suitcase, train lorries, planes, boats before they leave to Jakarta, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne and now New York?
I often draw foetuses and babies inside the mother’s womb, with different mediums: pencil, pen or watercolour. I actually don’t like seeing the images. I feel some sort of fear when I see something that resembles foetuses. They give me goose bumps. It is similar to when I see baby mice. I don’t know the source of the fear but I know that drawing the foetuses is part of the process of forgetting. Forgetting by focusing on the form and creating the right form. The form that is beautiful, like a giant teardrop that becomes the objectivity of the process.
DETAILJumaadi, Fetus, 2018-2019
A fetus is like a microworld contained within a thin piece of membrane. The packaging (or outer skin) is its limit and defines its surface area.
Young bamboos originate from the mother’s roots and are fully dependant on their mothers. This notion touches me as the essence of life. It is a visible spirit, which we might call love. The process of painting is a journey that allows me to reflect upon different questions about the beginning of life.
They are all my children, friends on the roads, places to think and share my feelings. Sometimes we gather in the middle of chaos, sometimes we separate until I don’t know when we are back together again. These works are histories that have made me feel full before empty again.
JumaadiTree of Life, 2020
In 1996, I saw the tree burials in Toraja, Sulawesi for the first time in my life.
When a mother who lost a child looks at the tree, she sees sadness and hope. I cannot imagine the sadness of a mother. Instead, I picture babies hanging happily from the tree branches, like ripe apples.
This is a prayer tree where sheets of paper filled with prayers are rolled and tied to the branches.
For press and other inquiries, please contact Margherita Usberti, Associate Director in Exhibitions at Christine Park Gallery at email@example.com.
About the Artist
Jumaadi (b. 1973, Sidoarjo in East Java) trained at the National Art School in Sydney, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art in 2000 and a Master of Fine Art in 2008 as recipient of the inaugural John Coburn Emerging Artist Award. He currently lives between Yogyakarta and Sydney.
His works are widely featured in public and private collections across Australia, Asia and Europe such as National Gallery of Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art and Art Gallery of New Wales. In 2013, he was selected as one of five artists to represent Australia at the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, where he staged a shadow-puppet play, an ancient form of storytelling and entertainment. His works are influenced by Indonesian art, Javanese folklore and poetry.
Jumaadi works with a wide range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, poetry and performance. His oil and acrylic paintings are executed on a variety of materials, such as cloth, canvas and buffalo hide. Many of his figures and scenes inspire an otherworldly feeling.
We are extremely grateful to artist Jumaadi who is working from Sydney and kindly agreed to do this exhibition with us. Our appreciation also goes to Santy Saptari in Jakarta. Without her, this exhibition would not have happened. Special thanks to the Photographer, Tim Connoly and artists from Kamasan, Bali for their technical assistance.