Para Sekutu yang Tidak Bisa Berkata Tidak

Temporary Exhibition

Dozens of times to revisit the National Gallery of Indonesia, Saturday date at the Gallery is always fun for me! This visit did not happen spontaneously, Friday morning I registered online for a visit on Saturday afternoon (all previous schedules were fully booked). The Public Relations of the National Gallery of Indonesia is very active in several social media and for the health protocols no doubt about it! During the pandemic, being able to visit temporary exhibitions in this gallery always feels safe and comfortable as usual.

Para Sekutu yang Tidak Bisa Berkata Tidak – The Allies Who Can't Say No. Honestly, I was very curious when I first read the title of this temporary exhibition, how about you? Exhibitions held by the National Gallery of Indonesia never disappoint me!

S. Teddy D. (b. 1971, Blora; d. 2016, Semarang)

The Choir That Can't Say No, 1997 (reproduced in 2021)


The title of this exhibition, The Allies Who Can't Say No, is taken from S. Teddy's installation, The Choir That Can't Say No, which was created in 1997 and hangs on the wall like a painting.  Rather than an artist, S. Teddy claims to be a painter, although he also makes sculptures, videos, and installations.  This artwork consists of several wooden blocks arranged like steps.  On top of each piece of wood, there are resin rooster heads that are lined up like a chorus and they crow.  The heads of the chickens are yellow, like the color of the political party that has supported Suharto for more than three decades.  Right above them: a black-and-white portrait of the artist hanging on the wall, as if he were the conductor of the chorus.  This work describes the dominant attitude in political culture, namely the inability to say no.


S. Teddy D.

S. Teddy D. applies the art of drawing as widely as possible.  In his various mediums, including three-dimensional works and installations, he consistently works with the logic of images, in the sense that what the eye sees is then recorded by the brain as various visual impressions.  Sounds light and simple, its credo: painting is a simplified or complicated picture.  The works of a graduate of the ISI Yogyakarta Painting Department are exhibited in a number of national galleries and have stopped in Japan, Australia, Netherlands, and Singapore.

Wong Hoy Cheong (b. 1960. George Town)

RE:looking (Looking Back), 2002–2003


In the video installation Re:Looking (2002), Wong blurs the boundaries of fact and fiction by presenting a documentary program on the influence of the Kingdom of Malaysia on post-colonial Austria.  Aired on a fictitious TV channel called Malaysian Broadcasting Corporation, this video parodies documentaries from television networks as a form of purported authoritative information.  The show started off as a serious program, but later resulted in discomfort for both parties who were divided.  Fictitious events, memories, and history give rise to pressing contemporary problems, such as migration, racism, power relations, and monarchy.  This work exploits the problem of information dissemination in the era of cybernetics—a realm that is fictitious, has no clear source, and is always questionable.


Wong Hoy Cheong

Wong Hoy Cheong works with a wealth of academic provisions.  He started by studying literature at Brandeis University, followed by a master's degree in education at Harvard University and painting at the University of Massachusetts.  His artworks across various mediums.  He often combines painting, photography, video, installation and performance.  As an ethnically rich Kuala Lumpur resident, he often brings up issues of race, colonialism, and history and marginalized communities in his artistic practice.

I Ketut Soki (b. Bali 1946)

The Legend of Jayaprana, 1965


Jayaprana painting by I Ketut Soki adapts a popular romance from Balinese folklore.  Specifically, the moment shown is when Layon Sari falls into the arms of King Kalianget, while Jayaprana is sent to the battlefield and ends up being killed by the King's envoy.  The figure of Jayaprana is not visible in the painting, while in the sky, Dewa Batara Kama Jaya and Dewi Ratih witness the fate of Layon Sari.  Known as a symbol of conjugal harmony, this god-goddess pair also has its own tragic story, where the wife ends her life to catch up with her husband.

Soki characterizes the diversity of characters on his canvases through skin color.  The figures of Layon Sari, the pair of gods and goddesses, as well as a number of figures in the crowd are depicted with ivory white skin.  Meanwhile, there is a purple female figure among the tan-skinned figures.  Different from Soki's other paintings which depict the daily life of Balinese residents and are dominated by tan-skinned figures, here he is bringing a legend to life.  He took inspiration from the Hindu painting tradition which used to give unique colors to special figures.  The color of the skin is a representation of values, morals, and holiness.


I Ketut Soki

I Ketut Soki was one of the first students to study with Arie Smit, a Dutch painter who in the 1960s worked with children around Panestanan, Ubud.  Known as Young Artists, Arie Smit's group has become known over time for their painting style, which is close to classical Balinese painting.  Like other members of Young Artists, Soki's paintings are full of bright colors, dense with decorative elements, and are familiar with the daily depiction of Balinese.

Marintan Sirait (b. Braunschweig, Germany 1960)

Building a House, 2022


Building a House shows the appreciation of Marintan's body in relation to the surrounding environment in which the body is located.  The stage is an installation of a cone-shaped earthen mound arranged in such a way with sand, ash, light, and gestures.  On several occasions, Marintan has also enriched his installations with newspapers, videos, music, spices and plants.  He usually starts the show by drawing a circle of sand around each cone with his fingertips.  Then, he covered his body with sand and drew lines of dark earth, as if connecting the cones that lined up or changing them to a whole new shape.

From 1994 to 2017, Marintan has performed this work in various types of events in various countries.  In each of his performances, he always updates the motion and form he presents, adapting to the characteristics of the place where his work is shown.  Marintan often invites the audience to participate in shaping his work.  Like a body in continuous process, this work was never aspired to be permanent, monumental, or finished.


Marintan Sirait

Marintan Sirait works a lot with the body.  In her track record that spans from drawings, paintings, to installations, consistent body movement is the main element.  For this graduate of the Ceramics Department of ITB, the body is a tool as well as a channel for energy to open primordial awareness.  In 1988, she co-founded Sumber Waras, a group of experimental artists.  Together with Andar Manik, her husband, she founded Jendela Ide, a special cultural institution for children and youth, in 1995.

Agus Suwage (b. 1959. Kutoarjo)

Ode to the Unknown Painter, 1995


This installation is one of the artworks that caught my attention. The presence of flower arrangements inside the wire with shape of a human body might make us wondering what or who inspired the artist. Precisely at the back of the installation as well as the background, there are many human face masks neatly displayed and under each of face masks there are occupation info and identity number, could you find your ID number?


Agus Suwage

Agus Suwage brings with topics around ideology, socio-politics, religion, and lifestyle, in a tone that we usually hear in everyday life.  This Graphic Design graduate from ITB often starts his work from a photographic image, either one he takes himself or one he finds from anywhere.  All the images are then processed by means of drawing, painting, or digital engineering.  Agus then inserts cynicism, irony, and parodies that provoke us to dismantle various signs and stigmas that are already accepted in our daily lives.


After visiting this temporary exhibition I realized more and more how vast and beautiful the artworld is. This exhibition will still take place offline until 27 February 2022, there are still many collections for the visitor to enjoy, so what are you waiting for to register your visit immediately?


For further information :

National Gallery of Indonesia

Jl. Medan Merdeka Timur No. 14, Jakarta 10110



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Reference :
Personal impression and experience


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