zaterdag 23 april 2016

The magic flight of Heri Dono

Volker Kuester was a colleague in Utrecht, 20 years ago. Since then he has moved to Kampen and since some six myears to Mainz, where he teaches intercultural theology. He has always had much interest for religious art and is preparing a new book on Christian art of Indonesia. The terminology of' 'Christian' is sometimes rather confused, because the artist often like to take traditional motives and just call it 'inculturated in Christianity'. We correspond about some aspects of art. Last questions were twofold: some about names for churches, which are quite secular in Indonesia: Gereja Manahan or Manahan Church is just called after a district of Solo which is best known for its football-stadium.
He sent me also a painting by Heri Dono.
This is a magic/mysterious painting. I found a discussion of it on a blog in Indonesian by Yustina Probowati dated May 30, 2013. I give a free translation and some comments.
The title Kakang Kawah Adik Ari-ari  means: the older brother (kakang, not kagang as Volker wrote!) is the water breaking at the end of pregnancy and preceding delivery of a child (amniotic fluid; literally kawah means crater, here the volcanic eruption is identified as the delivery); the younger brother/sister (adik) is the placenta or afterbirth (ari-ari). It seems to be a Javanese proverb, indicating two mighty protecting spirits: the amniotic water and the afterbirth. I think that the man fleeing here is the afterbirth, flying over the amniotic water, accompanied by many similar protecting spirits. They are called the Army of the Lord, protecting and also giving active help to the embryo while still in the process of growing before birth. The two powers are very important in this period of development and will remain it afterwards. All Javanese Ancestors believed that their 'spirits' always followed human beings after birth and they remain loyal friend for the persons. They become the 'army' which accompanies man in his/her life.
The meaning of this painting is that God is always with us in our life and nobody is a lonely being. This tells us something about the goodness of God. Do you agree? What do you think about this?  There were no further comments by Yustina Probowati. I found here a rather easy transition from the world with many spirits to monotheism. In fluid harmony without critical, sophisticated but also proud, even swollen orthodoxy. This is lovely and festive like the birth of a baby always should be.