Friday, April 1, 2011

Essay on Lucia Hartini's Srikandi(1993)

Srikandi by Lucia Hartini 1993
Oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm

(a) describe the use of space colour and brushwork

The painting depicts a confident woman dressed in a flowing piece of blue cloth situated centrally in the canvas. The woman has her legs wide apart, depicting that she is firmly standing on the ground. Her hands are at akimbo and her head is up, with wide-open staring eyes looking to her left. On her left there is a beam of converging light with many pairs of eyes which enters her eyes.

The foreground and right side of the canvas shows some brick walls which seem to form a maze. The walls have very sharp turns and have many cracks on them. It seems like the walls are going to crumble and fall apart anytime. The left background of the canvas depicts clouds and a moon. This suggests that the painting is situated in the sky

Overall, the figure of the woman is very large and takes up about ½ of the total space in the canvas. Hence this draws attention to the woman.

The colours used in the painting are rather realistic with red used for the bricks and beige for the skin. The colours are also very rich and vibrant. For example, the blue cloth is an electric blue. This is rather contrasting to the red brick walls surrounding the cloth. Hence this draws attention to the blue cloth and the woman wearing it. Colours are also used to depict light and dark areas. For example, white and light blue it used on the electric blue cloth to depict folds and creases on the cloth, thereby showing depth. It is also used to show that the cloth is glowing and flowing, giving it a very soft, silky and smooth texture. White and lighter tones of beige are also used to show the curves on the woman’s arms and legs. This allows the viewer to see the bulging veins on her arms caused by clenching her fist and her biceps and calf muscles. This suggests that she is very strong. The colour used for her skin tone is a tanned skin colour and the white highlights make her skin seem like it is glowing. This gives the impression that she goes out into the sun to do physical work and is very strong

The colour of the sky is blue and yellow, suggesting that the sun is rising. This gives the painting a rather positive atmosphere.

The brushwork in the painting is similar to that of neo-classicism. It is meticulously blended and brush strokes seem almost invisible. This accentuates the realistic nature of the painting making it seem more life-like.

(b) comment on the influences behind this work

Her culture influences her art. This can be seen in the title of the work, Srikandi. Srikandi is the archetypical “warrior woman” of south-east Asian legend. Lucia Hartini depicted her representation of Srikandi, one who is bold, strong, brave and confident in this painting. Another influence of her culture is the blue cloth used to dress the woman in the painting. Blue cloth was worn by members of the woman’s armies who historically protected the Sultans of federal Central Java. This adds on to the fact that the woman depicted is strong.

Her identity also greatly influences this work. Lucia Hartini grew up in Indonesia, where women were seen as less important to men. They were brought up to be obedient subjects to men and were only expected to cook, look good and have children. They were not given much freedom or choice. However, through Lucia Hartini’s struggles, experience and intuition, she realized that women should represent themselves as autonomous subjects having potential which is different but no less capable than that of men in this shared world. Hence she expressed this feeling of equality in sexes through this work, depicting herself as the woman in the painting, Srikandi. Her identity is one of a woman who is no longer constrained by social expectations and no longer afraid of the critical and doubting eyes of society. This can be seen in her seemingly repelling the many pairs of eyes. Her stance and body language also show that she is strong, bold and confident.

She is also influenced by cosmos. Painting the cosmos, such as the moon at the top left corner of this painting, allows her to escape from reality and to momentarily feel free and peaceful.

Another influence is the social environment that she is in. Her social environment is one where straightforward critical or confessional discourse is not acceptable. Hence Lucia Hartini is forced to create work in symbol-laden styles to carry out her social message. This can be seen is her using a warrior woman from the Hindu epic the Mahabharata to depict a strong and confident woman and many pair of eyes to depict the critical and doubting eyes of society.

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