Ever since I saw Dadang Christanto's installation, 'They give evidence' back in 2005 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in the newly opened Asian galleries, I have been a fan of this artist.
Dadang Christanto has a significant reputation internationally as well as in his own country, Indonesia. His artistic oeuvre includes painting, drawing, performance, sculpture and installations. I recently saw an image his latest offering in Artist Profile Magazine and was captivated by the intensity of his painting style and subject matter.
I remember being completely overwhelmed by the standing figures carrying the bodies of men women and children. It was a moment in my awakening to art I will never forget. Christanto's powerful work continues with themes of grief in his most recent exhibition titled 'Behind the Veil' which was held at Gallery Smith in North Melbourne in July/August.
About the exhibition, Dan Rule of the Age newspaperwrote; 'Though intricately beautiful, Indonesian-born artist Dadang Christanto's new acrylic-on-linen works, right, find their grounding in the silence of grief. Part of a long-term point of inquiry into the effects of organised human violence, Behind the Veil's striking, large-scale paintings tell the story of the female ethnic Chinese victims of a wave of racially fuelled violence that swept through Jakarta in May 1998, which left more than 1000 people dead and witnessed the rape of countless innocent women. For the most part, Christanto's paintings take the form of straight-on portraits, the beautifully ornate pattern, lightness and colour of the veil forging a stark contrast against the expressionless face and bleak, burnt backdrops. A common motif is that of pixelation. In the face of all that has happened, Christanto's subjects "self-censor". Pixels cover their mouths, ears and eyes; their trauma to be kept forever silent, their experience to remain confidential. It's a poignant, but still incredibly life-affirming collection. Indeed, there is a true, unyielding sense of resistance here. Though victims of unspeakable acts, these women have transcended the experience through sheer resilience'