- Rudi Mantofani
- Bayangan Merah (Red Shadow)
- Signed and dated 2009; Signed, titled and dated 2009 Indonesia on the reverse
- Acrylic on canvas
Turn a mere drop to a sea
Turn a mere fist to a mountain
Turn a span of nature to teach you.
While enjoying the strong support system, the Jendala however does not collaborate on an artistic or professional level. The creative process of each member is absolutely unique. These artists have shunned away from declaring any aesthetic positions or cultural manifesto with the intension to return the power of judgment back to the beholder. Working against the assumption of disinterested aesthetic autonomy, they sought to lay bare the boundaries and limitations imposed by institution, class, ethnicity and gender. Rather, the Jendala encourages viewers to decipher for themselves the underpinning codes embedded within their witty visual parables.
Detaching universally recognizable objects from their associated functions and displaying them in extraordinary contexts that demand new interpretations is Rudi Mantofani’s specialty. His works are informed by philosophy, for the conceptual formation of his works can be traced back to Hegel’s dialectical thinking. Comprising three stages of development, the artist’s subject (thesis) contradicts the backdrop (antithesis), and the tension between the two is resolved by a critical message (synthesis). Thus, the incongruity within his ‘situations’ challenges the onlooker to contemplate and experience the depth of familiar things.
In the present Lot Bayangan Merah (Red Shadow), we discover a magnificent tree that occupies the central position in the painting. Mantofani depicts the dense, luxuriant leaves and the sturdy tree trunk in a hyper-realistic manner. The light and shadow that falls onto each leaf is meticulously captured. The reflections of the acrylic pigments literally describe the fresh dewdrops on the foliage. Painted in a deep and bold shade of green, the tree is bursting with health and vitality. The roots are so muscular that they are protruding from the surface of the ground. The tree’s robust existence, however, is immensely baffling for it is the only tree confronting the viewer in close proximity. Mountains and sparse vegetation are visible in the horizon but they are at a far distance. Moreover, an interesting phenomenon arises: the tree is casting an intense red shadow on the water. This is anti-science and defies logic.
The tree’s red shadow challenges the audience to imagine a world that is not limited by preconceived notions of what we know. In other words, seeing is not always believing, with what we see not necessarily the truth. Here, Mantofani urges us to be more in touch with our conscience. Although it is easy to live each day functioning by auto-pilot, tracing the source of our thought-process and perception-formation could help us arrive at new findings or conclusions. On another level, Mantofani could be describing the endless battle between humans and nature today. As the only sign of life in an otherwise barren land, the imagery is a metaphor of choice. If we decide to cut it down, then the depicted background would indeed become reality. Nonetheless, the power remains with us. While alluding to the destructive nature of industrialization that is currently threating our ecosystem, this work maintains a positive outlook.
The clean and minimalistic composition recalls the surrealist works of Rene Magritte. In a similar fashion, the tree inhabits an imaginative, dream-like vista, uncontaminated by civilization. The daring visual ploy here is a meditation on human nature. Through art, Mantofani engages in intellectual discourses pertaining to current issues in today’s world. With his sensitive observation of mankind, the artist acknowledges two conflicting forces in contemporary society: material success versus spiritual contentment. Furthermore, tree is a motif that is pervasively present throughout Mantofani’s repertoire. It has always been an important and personal subject for the artist as it represents to him the ideal state of life. Nature is above all the best teacher. Bayangan Merah (Red Shadow) is a fresh and iconic work that testifies to Rudi Mantofani’s reputation as a virtuoso painter and a critical thinker. The delightful amalgamation of rich visual narrative and enigmatic aesthetic highlights the present work as one of the artist’s finest.