dinsdag 12 juli 2016

Saiful Adnan among the Christian Artists of Indonesia

Volker Küster wrote his doctoral dissertation on South Korean Minjung theology in Heidelberg. In 1991 he published already with Theo Sundermeier a book on Christian Art in Indonesia: Das schöne Evangelium. A few months ago he sent me the draft for a new book in German on Christian Art in Indonesia. I read it with great interest. Bali and Yogyakarta are the most important centres, but as a third centre he has given attention to Asmat Art in the Papua  region. A special chapter is devoted here to architecture of churches and places of pilgrimage. I will write more about the book when it is fully published (most pictures were not yet in the draft which I received). I read it now also with special interest because in September I will begin with a course of icon painting. The use of Christian Art in Indonesia is quite varied, which is one aspect that is not really elaborated as yet in the book. In most protestant churches there are no picture, paintings or images at all. In Protestant houses they have also not an important function. So, the question is often: what is the focus of Christian art? Many religious painters have problems in surviving: the best can sell some pieces abroad but many are not successful here. Many modern artists work for the rich collectors and for museums. In the Catholic tradition there is much more need for pictures.
The most striking example for me was Solomon Raj in India: when Paule and I visited Vijayawada in early 2007 I was asked to deliver a sermon in the Indian Lutheran church of Solomon Raj. There were no images at all: not in the church, not in the offices! So, what is the market of these Protestant artists?
A small chapter of the book by Küster is devoted to the interreligious aspect. It is clear that quite a few Indonesian Christian take elements from local culture and spirituality in the art. In 2012 the Consortium of Indonesian and dutch (Protestant) Churches for study of Interreligious Relations also gave attention in their Yogyakarta meeting to art, Christian and Muslim. The picture below was taken at this event.
In the middle is Volker Küster. To the right is Nyoman Darsane, the Balinese painter, storyteller (we have at home one of his paintings of the two Marthas). The three young men may be three young Muslim artists, also present at this conference: Mohammed Satar, Azam Bachtiar and Kaji Habeb. The draft of the book has also a few pages of the two best known artists who have developed their own style of calligraphy: Abdul Djalil Fairous (from Aceh) and Saiful Adnan b 1957 in Minangkabau. Küster plans to include a calligraphy of sura 49:15 by Saiful Adnan: Only those are the believers who have truly believed in God and his messenger, then never have doubted, and who strive hard with their wealth and persons in God's cause. Those are they who are truthful and honest. After this I sought on the internet about the modern works by Saiful Adnan and found a list of some 100 collectors of his work: no 20 was Dr. Karel Steenbrink, orientalist from America! In 1986 we lived in Yogyakarta and celebrated that we were married 12 1/2 years. I asked Saiful Adnan to make a calligraphy of the previous verse 49:13. It is still in our living room:  Humankind: We have created you male and female and made you into tribes and families som that you may know one another. The noblest, most honourable of you in God's  sight is the one best in piety..
The picture is not good: there is an effect of the glass, but it makes a good impression.

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