Impressions of Indonesia

by Michelle Chin

The paintings of Mario Blanco, Paul Husner and Pupuk Daru Purnomo take us on a visual feast of a journey through Indonesia, France and the USA. Balinese artist Mario Blanco depicts the fantasy world to be found in his Campuhan studio; Swiss painter Paul Husner gives us his impressions of Indonesia; and Javanese artist Pupuk Daru Purnomo portrays his impressions of Yogyakarta, Solo, Paris and New York.

While the subject matter of these three artists varies, nevertheless these three painters have, broadly speaking, something in common. It is the feeling that the life of the city and the village, the train stations and the temples, the museums and palaces, the fish markets and street corners, the artist's studio and the strip-tease joint, can become a vision of a world of ripeness and bloom, projecting an untroubled sense of wholeness. Their paintings depict a world of joy and light: one might look at this world with irony, but never with the eye of despair.

Paul Husner, Borobodur

Their "views" represent one thing at a given moment in time, an effect of light and colour that is fleeting and momentary: the governing system is the acuteness of the artist's eye and the sensuous efficiency of his brush-strokes, knitting their pattern swiftly across the canvas. Their subjects are views and pleasures which nearly everyone can see and experience in everyday life in and around the city: the simplicity and sheer beauty of the visible world.

These three artists concern themselves with the endless fields of experiment for the painters' special problems. Painting the same object or objects over and over again, their subject is not the view but the act of seeing that view - a process of mind, unfolding subjectively, never fixed, always becoming. They concern themselves with the infinite varieties of light effect that can be drawn from a motif at different times of day, in different weathers, in different lighting. Each recurring motif - a building, a street scene, an overcast sky, a vase, fish, fruit, flowers, glass jar, teapot - can be seen as something commonplace and endless, inviting all of the inspection and discrimination a human eye can bring.

Mario Blanco, Paul Husner and Pupuk Daru Purnomo enjoy the challenges presented by the way in which light is reflected and broken by various surfaces. They study the contrasts and harmonies of colours and textures, arranging the subject matter of their paintings in harmonies of colours and lines. They make us aware of the play of light on sky and cloud, urban landscapes or the exteriors and interiors of buildings. In their still life paintings they try to achieve ever-new harmonies between wine-filled glasses, gleaming china, brilliantly coloured fruit and polished metals. They make us see the quiet beauty of a simple scene with fresh eyes and give us an idea of what the artist felt when he watched the light flooding through the window of his studio, heightening the colour of a piece of fruit or reflecting on the shiny surface of a table or bench. Of course, these might be objects that we can see around us every day, but only the artist can open our eyes to the beauty of these everyday pleasures. The artist allows us to see "eternity in a grain of sand, and Heaven in a flower."

[foreword for exhibition catalogue, The Impressionists, organbised by Garisart, Jakarta, 2003