Arjuna Nursing (1979) by Hendra GunawanCiputra Artpreneur
Hendra’s interest in traditional art was apparent from childhood. Hendra’s entry into the youth organization Yayasan Obor Pasundan steadily sharpened his insights into local art.
Hendra’s ability in traditional art was not only in understanding theories, but also in practicing the art. He was also a proven puppeteer and was skilled in the art of dance.
In this painting Hendra seems to be trying to catch snippets of his experiences when he was emotionally involved in the staging of the show when he was young. We can clearly see the atmosphere of frenzied preparation before staging the wayang orang performance.
The colors shown seem to present a happy atmosphere. This said, everything is depicted in its simplicity, for the world of wayang orang as understood by Hendra was a world of the art of the “common man.”
The most important part of this painting is the human-interest element displayed. In wayang orang, the Arjuna character (one of the Pandawa warriors) was always played by women.
This was because Arjuna was known as a refined man and handsome as well as beautiful. In Arjuna Nursing it was revealed that Arjuna was a woman, no less a mother, who had brought her child with her to the performance
And the child was breastfed by the mother before she went up on stage. Here Hendra painted this moving event behind the scenes.
copyright 2020 Ciputra Artpreneur
Texts taken from:
Painting description by Agus Dermawan T.
Prisoner of Hope: 100 Years Hendra Gunawan curated by Aminudin TH Siregar and Agus Dermawan T.
Photo credits: Ciputra Artpreneur documentation