1a) Describe the use of space, colour and brushwork.
This painting depicts an authoritative, challenging, strong, daring and powerful character of Srikandi, a daring female knight character of the Javanese shadow theatre. The figure clenches her fists with muscled hands, her head up with wide-open staring eyes, constituting a strong challenging gesture against the spying eyes before her.
In terms of the use of space, almost three quarter of the space is dominated by the woman figure right at the front of the painting. There is also a rather distinct diagonal line from the centre of the left vertical axis to the top right hand corner that separates the sky, clouds and sun from the concrete brick maze-like walls in the right. Right behind the figure is a zig-zag maze like brick-wall that continues all the way to the back of the painting, until it is cut off at the end of the canvas.
As for the use of colour, it can be observed that the colours used are rather intense and rich, adding a surrealistic feel to the painting. The female figure’s velvety dress is a dark rich blue, whereas her skin tone is one of olive-brown with some highlights of white and yellow to define her feature under the light. Also, the fact that the female hair is black indicates that she is most probably an Asian. Furthermore the brick walls that appear to be cracking is an intense crimson red of different shades in different areas: red where shadows are reflected are tinged with some black while red where light is shone upon is lighter and brighter, with a tinge of yellow. In the background, the white fluffy clouds lie above and within dark blue skies, while the sun is white tinged with some blue in certain area and the clouds at a higher altitude appears in orange, yellow and white. As for the sight reflected from the figure eyes, the sky and clouds is similar to the background in shades of blue, white and orange while the numerous eyes has black pupils and orange-yellow eyelids. In this work, complementary colours are used (Indigo and Orange) (Red and Blue). When the colours clash and make each other look brighter and cause discomfort when placed together, creating tension in the painting.
Regarding the brushworks used in this painting, brushworks are almost invisible and paint is probably applied to the canvas in extremely fine lines. Lucia Hartini's works have been marked by her ability to transform terror into marvels of yearning or awesome visions, epitomized by a spiraling vortex and meticulously painted waves or skies built up with layers of small and carefully modulated brush strokes.
This work has many influences behind it.
Firstly, the artwork is influenced by the artist own experience of gender discrimination in the social conditions in Indonesia, where she lives in, where the traditional cultural expectations is that women should obediently and patiently placed themselves as victims of sexism, and act as an obedient subject to male admonition. Therefore, being a Indonesian female living in such a society, she is a victim of sexism as well. Besides, she is also a victim of domestic violence. Therefore, as time passes, her fears from the suffering she endured her paintings reveal a self that gradually emerged from invisibility into visibility, from fear into grieving and then into determination and confidence, from powerlessness to a recognition of her own fighting powers. Through this art piece, she then explored her empowered moments. Therefore, with her new beliefs that women should represent themselves as autonomous subjects having potential which is different but no less capable than man in this shared world or in simple terms, gender equality, she wishes to express her thoughts as well as advocate as a modern Indonesian/global woman fighting for her right to define her own place in the world through this painting that depicts the confidence and great capabilities within a female figure that dominates the centre of the painting.
Secondly, the choice of the female subject in the painting to be Srikandi as a depiction of a confident woman like the artist herself could be due to the artist’s cultural background. Being a Indonesian, the artist has have known of Srikandi, is a favourite character from the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, well known throughout Indonesia and taken a liking for this authoritative, challenging, strong and powerful daring female knight and is highly inspired to be like her thus depicting herself as Srikandi. The story behind the character is that Srikandi was determined to become the wife of the Pandwa prince, Arjuna, despite the fact that she was already married to Dewi Sumbadra. Srikandi vowed to stand by Arjuna in battle, impressing him with her loyalty and courage. This she did in the Bratayuda War, slaying his enemies; later she was murdered by poison. Therefore, Srikandi is the archetypical “Warrior Woman” of South-East Asian legend. In this case Lucia painted herself as Srikandi showing how stridently she repels the critical and doubting eyes of society which had formerly rendered many of its women prisoners of tradition.
Thirdly, it can be observed that this work is influenced by the Surrealism movement of the western art world and resembles the style of surrealism artist Salvador Dali.
Surrealism is an art movement concerned with the projection of the subconscious mind and dreams and the subjects matter is often related to dreams and fantasy. Similarly, this painting’s subject matter belongs to the world of fantasy as the female subject having such as vision of the sky and eyes is abnormal. More specifically, this artwork would belong to Super Surrealism , which as a kind of surrealism was based on the irrational combination of unrelated objects and contrasting forms derived from the depths of imagination or the dream world. It was a fusing of the dream world with reality to bewilder the viewer. This is greatly reflected in the work from the great contrast of the soft drapery around the figure and the rough, textured cracking walls as well as the contrast of the fragility and feminity easily associated with a female figure with the strong and firm stance she bears. Despite the figure being realistic, it is mixed up with unreality when the figure possesses an x-ray vision that views the skies and numerous eyes. Furthermore, like in super surrealism, the forms in this painting were treated with realistic, highly academic accuracy using traditional painting techniques, with the figure looking really realistic perfected in almost invisible brushstrokes. Her painstaking attention to the details of painting further suggests an almost obsessive preoccupation with personal reality, at the same time articulating spiritual forces that place her in direct contact with the surrealistic world. Lastly, similar to paintings by Salvador Dali, this work is one depicting a rather hallucinatory and mysterious scene where the numerous eyes seem to be spying and gazing in a haunting way and the background of the clouds and skies being so intensified in colour that it adds a touch of unreality and mysteriousness. Therefore, with her fusing of past and present, conscious and unconscious in a single blinding moment of clarity, her work seem to be driven by the new spiritual dynamic that has taken her out of the corners of anxiety and depression, which is most probably highly influenced by Surrealism.