Two visual artists of the Mazhab Bandung (Bandung school) – Haryadi Suadi and Tarcisius Sutanto – exhibit their work at the Galeri Soemardja at the Bandung Institute of Technology, from 7 to 24 May 2013. The showcase reminds the public of a particular artistic movement and era that has since positioned Bandung as a centre of modern and conceptual art.
The paintings and graphics of Haryadi Suadi and T. Sutanto have long been considered an example of the successful intertwining of modern and traditional elements. This particular feature gave them a unique stature among the proponents of the Mazhab Bandung, a term that is used to characterize a certain artistic style distinguished by its formalistic approach and introduced by western artists such as Ries Mulder in the 1950s. At the same time, their singularity was the reason why both appeared to have been “side-lined” by the leading figures of the Mazhab Bandung from Ahmad Sadali, Mochtar Apin, Sunaryo, AD Pirous, Srihadi Soedarsono, to Popo Iskandar. Nonetheless, through this exhibition the Galeri Soemardjo is presenting an argument against the opinion that views artists of the Mazhab Bandung as being westernized and neglectful of their own traditions.
- Haryadi Suadi and T. Sutanto were both esteemed for their roles in helping develop visual arts and design at ITB. Within the realm of visual arts, their works show distinctive similarities, characterized by the exploration and amalgamation of traditional forms and patterns with popular iconography.
- The objective of an exhibition is not simply to showcase the achievements of an artist but also to provide a counterpoint to generally-held presumptions and prejudices. Galeri Soermardjo’s decision to exhibit the paintings of Haryadi Suadi and T. Sutanto is of such effort. The organizer hopes that the exposition would help expunge the “pro-western” stigma that have been attached to the Mazhab Bandung while at the same time showcasing their contributions to the development of contemporary visual arts in Indonesia.
- In reality artists of the Mazhab Bandung utilized a western approach to art as a method to present Indonesian objects. In fact, the negative viewpoint in regards to artists from Bandung occurred during a period when the national visual arts discourse was heavily influenced by the Social Realism movement of the 1960s, and further discredited by the establishment in the 1970s of the “worthless” applied arts design program at ITB.
In conjuction with Haryadi Suadi and T. Sutanto’s 72nd birthdays in May, Galeri Soemarjo have organized an exhibition of the two artists, revealing that not all artists in Bandung who are part of the Mazhab Bandung abandoned traditional elements. Haryadi Suadi is fond of employing local elements from his hometown Cirebon while Sutanto includes decorative patterns from Central Java. Was this the cause of their relative “obscurity” in comparison to the other artists of the Mazhab Bandung? Or would their singularity prove to be the redeming feature that would extinguish the anti-tradition myth of the Mazhab Bandung?