Press: The Jakarta Post

8 March 2009

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Jakarta Post, March 08, 2009.

French artist brings women’s dual lives to canvas

Agustinus B. da Costa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Having looked at the 23 paint­ings by Bali-based French artist Jean-Phillipe Haure, one is left with mixed feel­ings, ranging from melan­cholic to proud.

[ Duality I, pri­vate col­lec­tion ]

Most of the works depict Balinese women. They are tra­di­tional female dancers from the Abianbase vil­lage of Gianyar. Shown in sev­eral poses, some women are in beau­tiful dance cos­tumes, some others in daily worn-out dresses. There are striking dif­fer­ences in how he por­trays young women and old ones. The young women are pic­tured beau­ti­fully with flowers, dancing orna­ments and detailed tra­di­tional cos­tumes, while the older women are depicted with detailed wrin­kles.

In addi­tion to being the island of the gods, it seems Bali should also be billed as the land of thou­sands of inspi­ra­tions, because from a vil­lage alone, Haure gets pro­found impres­sions that he can retell through his canvas. He’s mostly impressed with the tra­di­tion: dancing. In Bali, he says, dancing is the tra­di­tion that is passed on from one gen­er­a­tion to the next. It’s an impor­tant part of a reli­gious ritual to wor­ship the gods.

He says par­ents send their girls to study dancing at nearby tem­ples. Every temple has its dance group. The dancers do not only per­form for func­tions held at the temple. Sometimes they per­form at social events. At other times, they dance to amuse the people at tra­di­tional con­certs, odalan, at the temple.

Haure says he loves to see dance per­for­mances, but what is most inter­esting for him are the behind-the-stage prepa­ra­tions: when the girls are bustling around with their cos­tumes and orna­ments, and putting on makeup. He tried his best to depict the moment.

“The dancers get stressed, tense, anx­ious, while awaiting their turns. But they still move for­ward to the stage.”

Being in close prox­imity, he says that he can see there is a beauty in the tran­si­tion between the dancers’ daily lives and their per­for­mance on the stage. To him, it is amazing to see how people change their roles or per­son­al­i­ties.

“This is a metaphor for life itself. Human beings are always trapped in the moment of tran­si­tion. This moment is very stressing. But we just have to move for­ward.”

Woman at work is another dom­i­nant theme in his paint­ings. He por­trays the daily lives of real people. He knows them well because he sees them and lives with them.

“When I lived with a Balinese family, the domestic economy was han­dled by the women. They also reigned over the kitchen domain. That’s why we see women working in con­struc­tion pro­jects or manual labor around their houses,” Haure says.

“But they never com­plain about it. They never see it as a big burden.”

In Balinese tra­di­tion, women have their own freedom to choose whether they want to work in the domestic sector (sadwi) or in the public sector (brah­mawa­dini).

“He makes a strong and detailed sketch of the human body and the pat­tern of their tra­di­tional out­fits,” art enthu­siast Edi Purnomo says of Haure’s works.

But on the other side, Edi says Haure also gives his paint­ings an abstract back­ground, monochrome and pastel. The haze is an expres­sion of his emo­tion, like the com­poser trying to figure out the sounds of music from the abstract world.

Born in Orleans, France, in 1969, Haure went to the Boulle School of Art in 1983. In 1989, he worked on the restora­tion of national French fur­ni­ture and joined the monastery of Saint Benoit-sur-Loire. The French gov­ern­ment appointed him as a social worker to help boost the Hasta Karya Indonesian School of Art in Gianyar, Bali.

  J-Philippe, Bali Press review Press: The Jakarta

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