Rabu, 03 Maret 2021

AFFANDI THE GREAT ARTIST - Cerita Rakyat Dalam Bahasa Inggris

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An Admirer from across the Seas

Siti, an American girl, was born and had always lived in New York. Everything about her was American, except for her name which is very Indonesian. Her parents gave her that name to remind them of Indonesia, a country they had once lived in for some years and had loved so much.

Since her early age, Siti had always felt close to Indonesia. She grew up in a house full of kinds of beautiful pieces of art from various parts of Indonesia. Of all those pieces, the one she loved most is a painting by Affandi, the famous Indonesian painter.

At first, the painting does not seem Indonesian at all, as it is scene from Times Square, New York, full of tall buildings, bright lights and many, people. Various bright colours seemed to dance around the canvas in free, creative lines and shapes. Siti always enjoyed looking at the painting. Standing close to it, she cannot make out anything aside from confusing blobs of paint, but as she stands further back, the painting slowly begins to look like Times Square, the busy place she is very familiar with.

Her father often told her stories about Indonesia, and also about her favorite artist, Affandi. She grew curious to know more about this man. Her father had met him once during the time he was working as a journalist in Indonesia. He even kept picture of the artist. They show a common, simple looking man with an almost bald head and thin, long hair.

Siti often tried to connect this man with her favourite painting. There was something she could not understand. The artist looked too simple to create such a great work of art. It made her more and more curious about Affandi. She made a plan to visit Indonesia one day, and see Affandi’s Museum in Yogyakarta, his home town.


The Long Awaited Trip

After so many years of planning and saving, Siti was finally really flying to Indonesia, to make her Affandi come alive.

Her plane landed in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. She had to see some of her father’s old friends there. After two days in Jakarta, she took a train to Yogyakarta. It was an eight hour day trip. As she had a window seat, she could enjoy the beautiful scenery of green rice fields and peaceful village life.


It was late afternoon when the train got to Yogyakarta. A ‘becak’ took her to a hotel. Along the road, she caught something different in this strange place. It was the peaceful city life of Afandi’s hometown. She was going to find more about him here.


The Museum

The next morning she took a ‘becak’ again to the Museum of Affandi, which was not far from her hotel or the important streets of Yogyakarta. The place was quiet and showed very little activity. She was the only guests that morning. She entered a building which looked like cave from the outside with a strange bamboo house on stilts in front. She promised herself to visit the house afterwards.

A Javanese gentlemen wearing a neat grey suit welcomed grey at the entrance in good English, and presented himself as the guide of the museum. Actually the museum consisted of two buildings which looked alike, situated side by side. The first one displayed all the works by Affandi. There were sculptures, sketches and paintings. As she entered the building, it seemed to open up. The thatched roof and ventilation holes allowed air and light to circulate well. Oil paintings were all over the walls. Some sketches were also displayed on the open mezzanine. Everything was so simple and natural, just like the rocks and bamboo in the surrounding area of the museum.


The Process

The guide showed Siti the early sketches and paintings made by the artist when he was still very young. They were very realistic and naturalistic, depicting his mother, wife and daughter. But they already showed the flowing curve which would later develop strength and marked his famous style.

Siti asked the guide a lot of questions. She was very curious to find out more about the kind of man Affandi had been and the kind of life he had lived. The guide told her about how Affandi had started as a self-taught billboard artist working for a movie cinema. At the time he was so poor that he had to sleep outdoors using unused billboards. At times he even took his little daughter, Kartika, to join him in his adventurous life.

Affandi’s continuous hard work and strugle brought him to several countries like Italy and India where he studied art seriously and developed his unique style which made him the pioneer of modern Indonesian art of painting. It was Affandi who introduced the use of strong colours pushed directly out of tubes to be expressively and spontaneously mixed on the canvas. The reason why Affandi liked to use this method was because he wanted to quickly express his feeling about the objects he was working on.

The guide showed Siti a series of Affandi’s work, starting from his early very naturalistic and realistic style to more and more expressionistic. Even his self portraits show development and process of deviation from the conventional rules of beauty in painting. The face the artist looks more and more deteriorated in his later portraits. Siti found out through the guide that this process indicated Affandi’s wish to keep the simplicity of his personality and to express his deep sympathy for simple, common people, so humble was Affandi he did not want people to call him a painted or an artist-he preferred to be known as a craftsman.


The Compound

The second museum was used for paintings made by several modem painters. The guide showed Siti to the back of the compound, where tapestry works made by Affandi’s wife, Maryati, were displayed. Siti asked the guide if she could have a look at the bamboo house. He led her first to the cart house next to it. When Affandi was still strong and could climb the stairs, he used to work up at the bamboo house. As he grew, older he had to move to the lower cart house which had only several stairs to climb. It was really a cart brightly painted in green and red, and modified into a house. The bamboo house had the same colours as the cart house. Under the stilts there was Affandi’s favourite bright yellow car. Upstairs there was only one open sitting area and one bedroom which looked simple but very comfortable and cozy. Around the bamboo house there were ponds which were naturally decorated with plants and flowers. Is between the two museums Siti saw the cemetery of Affandi’s and his wife’s. The whole compound looked so calm, yet warm and friendly. Siti tried to imagine how it used to be when Affandi had been alive and working there. Several picture in the museum described how the artist worked, even when he was too old and weak, helped by his daughter, Kartika. The image of the artist became much clearer to Siti and seemed to be so familiar, as if she had known him personally.


The Family

Through the guide Siti learned more about Affandi’s family. It was a family of artist. While Affandi’s work consists mostly of oil paintings, nis wife’s comprise embroidery paintings. Having such artistic parents, their, daughter, Kartika, also followed the same path with her oil paintings.

As Siti asked more questions about Affandi’s family, the guide took Siti back to the museum, to show her sketches and paintings of Affandi’s mother, his wife and his daughter.

Siti was very much impressed by the paintings of the artist and his daughter. Their togetherness was repeatedly shown in several paintings, sketches and even a sculpture. They reminded her of her own father, and a feeling of homesick crept into her heart.

“He must have been quite a special father,” she said to herself, as she looked again at the paintings of Affandi and Kartika one by one.


The Artist’s Hometown

Siti thanked the guide as the she left the museum compound. Her head was filled with the image of Affandi, the great artist of international reputation, who stayed so simple, dedicating all his life to his art and humanity. Siti stopped a while just outside the entrance gate and looked around her. People moved about at a very slow pace, much slower than what she was used to back in her country.

The ‘becak’ that had been waiting for her outside the museum took her around the town, to see the Sultan’s Palace, the silver craft village and some batik workshops. Siti was very impressed by the local people who smiled and were very friendly to her wherever she went.

In the evening she took a leisurely walk along the surrounding streets. She saw a lot of food stalls along the pavement of the road popularly known as Jalan Malioboro. Lit by kerosene lamps, people were eating cross-legged and chatting, while some street musicians played local instruments. Siti was tempted to enter one of the stalls. She even tried to eat like local people, using her right hand. The people in the stall taught her how to do it, and she tried to chat with them using her limited Indonesian against their limited English. She liked the food, and the warmth of this new friendship.


The Humbleness of Rice Stalk

As she walked back to her hotel, she tried to place her favorite Affandi in the middle of his hometown. What a contrast it was, to imagine the great artist of international reputation living simple life in the middle of a world of simplicity but amazing warmth. This contrast somehow answered her questions about the simple artist and his rich creation. She remembered her father’s words, quoting an Indonesia proverb: “Like a rice stalk bending weighted down with the burgeoning grain.”

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