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Thinking and Talking about Arts and Culture in Southeast Asia

Kartika Affandi: 9 Ways of Seeing | Interview with videomaker Christopher Basile (via Culture 360)

A new documentary film tells the story of visionary artist Kartika Affandi, daughter of Indonesia‘s most celebrated painter, and a groundbreaking personality in her own right.

On the poster for the documentary: “Kartika: 9 Ways of Seeing”, the smiley face of a blithe elderly woman pops up from an opened mouth, bringing to mind the screaming face of “The Court Of The Crimson King” cover album. The image is indeed an accurate anticipation of the quasi-lysergic realm we will be led into by watching the film. It is the colourful universe of a real artist queen, Kartika Affandi, whose artwork of a lifetime is irreverent, playful, loud, energetic and even shocking for Indonesian society.

The life and art of the Javanese painter and sculptor, born in 1934, is so extraordinary that it overshadows the fact she is the daughter of Indonesia most acclaimed painter, Affandi. Taught to paint by her father, she had to work hard to be acknowledged for her own personal language and poetics. Still actively painting, sculpting and exhibiting at the age of 83, she keeps on bring her artistic vision to life.

In the documentary “Kartika: 9 Ways of Seeing”, researcher and videomaker Christopher Basile lets Kartika recount her experience and art practice. We chatted with Basile – whose longstanding interest in SE Asian art has led him to devote 3 years to this project – to learn how Kartika Affandi found the strength to express herself in the face of a society and a time in which this was unprecedented and considered an impossible goal for a woman.

How did you first encounter the work of Kartika Affandi and what were your first impressions?

I first saw Kartika’s paintings years ago in reproduction. What I was impressed with was her consistent vision while portraying a wide range of subject matter. She imbues her work with a particularly personal quality and a special energy that is all her own. Later when I saw her works in person in Yogyakarta in Java I was amazed. As a filmmaker one of the challenges making the film was trying to bring that impact to the screen.

What pushed you to make the documentary?

I felt more pulled than pushed. I was in Java for another film project, shooting a short documentary about a local mystic and guru, when I first met Kartika. This was about 9 years ago, and I was so attracted by her warmth, her intelligence, her story-telling. Her grand personality just pulled me in, and we hit it off.  She is a well-known public figure in Indonesia, as the artist-daughter of the country’s most celebrated artist Affandi, and as an outspoken feminist and humanist voice. This said, after 60 years of creating remarkable work she still hasn’t received the recognition she deserves. And nobody had ever made a film with her, so she seemed to me like an exciting subject for a documentary film.

 

Read the full article by Naima Morelli on Culture 360.

 

ArtsEquator Radar features articles and posts drawn from local and regional websites and publications – aggregated content from outside sources, so we are exposed to a multitude of voices in the region.

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