Ceramic Artist Shows That Beauty Comes in Many Forms
For many people, ceramics act a form of decoration, placed in the home to give it a touch of style or a sense of beauty. Ceramics presented as art is a new concept for many Indonesians but is something the National Museum hopes to encourage.
To introduce the concept of ceramics as art to the public, the Central Jakarta museum, which is more than two centuries old, is exhibiting “Memberi Makna Pada Yang Fana” (“Giving Meaning to Mortality”), showcasing the works of Ahadiat Joedawinata.
Ahadiat, born in Cirebon, West Java, in 1943, is Indonesia’s foremost ceramic artist, according to Syenny Setiawan, the director of Sarasvati Art Management.
“Ahadiat’s artwork shows that ceramics not only come in the form of a vessel or a vase or something functional, but they can also be abstract and still possess meaning,” Syenny explained.
In the exhibition space, Ahadiat’s work fills the area with a glorious set of new perspectives that rejuvenate the idea of ceramics within the artistic world.
“The title was chosen because it represents the concept, idea and even Ahadiat’s artistic process in creating his ceramic works,” Eddy Soetriyono, the exhibition curator, explained.
“Creating ceramics is similar to facing life, it requires compromise and hard work, using elements, such as fire, that aren’t always ours to control. Things have a tendency to get out of hand, but in the end we learn from our mistakes to succeed in giving meaning to these lumps of clay.”
Eddy said that visual beauty isn’t only present in paintings and sculptures, but also in ceramics — which is also the idea this exhibition seeks to convey. He added that a contemporary ceramics solo exhibition was seeking to lure visitors through its rarity and thought-provoking nature.
Syenny and Eddy each expressed their admiration for Ahadiat, who has been working with clay for almost two decades. The artist is renowned for transforming clay into art that reflects his philosophy.
Besides being a ceramic artist, Ahadiat is also an interior designer whose most recent project was the Museum Bank Indonesia in North Jakarta.
“He uses various types of clay sourced from many different places, indulging in various methods of glazing and firing in the creation of his ceramic pieces,” Syenny explained.
Eddy said that Ahadiat had honored the maxim expressed by 1960s cultural theorist Marshall McLuhan — “The medium is the message” — indicating that the method of expression is not merely a channel to send the message.
Syenny said the exhibition also sought to promote high-quality art by emerging artists and to educate more people about advances in art, with the hope that Indonesian art will grow without losing its roots.
Eddy said that Ahadiat himself wants to enjoy new experiences when creating his ceramics and therefore isn’t confined to a single concept — meaning each piece stands out for their unique beauty.
“His ceramics are so enchanting that they allow the possibility of enlightenment for the viewer,” Eddy said.
To the casual visitor, Ahadiat’s work seems to demonstrate that art has few limits, that anything can be beautiful, and that beauty can be created from the simplest of things. It does not need not be extravagant, nor should it be hard to find. The show presents art that is strikingly beautiful and reminds visitors to reflect back on their own lives.
Memberi Makna Pada Yang Fana (Giving Meaning to Mortality)
Through Aug. 27
Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat No. 12
Central Jakarta, Tel. 021 386 8171