Exhibition and Training in Painting Conservation: Prevention, Restoration and Maintenance

Exhibition and Training in Painting Conservation: Prevention, Restoration and Maintenance

Exhibition and Training in Painting Conservation

As one of the developments of its mission of cultural heritage conservation, YAD participated in the process of painting restoration as part of fine art heritage preservation. YAD initiated the process of restoring three paintings by Raden Saleh in 2013, namely “The Capture of Prince Diponegoro” (1857), “The Tiger Drinking” (1863) and “Dutch Military Patrol on Mt Merapi and Mt Merbabu” (1871). In this restoration work, YAD cooperated with the Goethe Institut Indonesiën in bringing out a fine art restorer, Susanne Erhards from the Gruppe-Köln, to work in Indonesia.

In 2015, YAD once again joined forces with Goethe Institut Indonesiën in the holding of a two-day workshop on “Training in Painting Conservation: Prevention, Restoration and Maintenance” which formed part of the “Prince for All Seasons; Diponegoro in the Memory of the Nation, from Raden Saleh to the present” exhibition at the National Gallery, Jalan Merdeka Timur no.14, Jakarta 10110, from 6 February to 8 March 2015.

Both the exhibition and the conservation workshop were curated by Susanne Erhards and supported by a team from YAD which included Catrini Pratihari Kubontubuh, Nyoman Arya Subamia, Evi Manalu and Risza Takijoedin.

The workshop, which was held free of charge and presented directly by Susanne Erhards, was designed to give a deeper understanding and hands-on experience of damage prevention, restoration techniques, and post-restoration maintenance. YAD hopes that this type of training will result in the emergence of professionally competent fine art conservators and restorers at a time when the profession is very restricted in Indonesia.

The training workshop was in fact very well received in a number of quarters. This could be seen in the number of participants, which exceeded the initial quota of twenty, and which included those from fine art galleries, not only in Jakarta but also outside the capital, from universities (Gajah Mada University Yogya, University of Indonesia, Bandung Institute of Technology, and Bina Sarana Informatika in Bandung), the Jakarta Fine Arts Council, the Presidential Palace, which curates its own extensive collection of paintings by celebrated artists, and also from the media.

One of the participants, Sektiadi, S.S., M.Hum of the Archaeology Department of Gajah Mada University in his post-workshop statement declared that “the two-day training experience was truly excellent. Although in our department (Masters in Museumology and Bachelors in Archaeology) there are courses in museum conservation, none dealt with fine art directly. Because of this, the training was extremely useful.”

The Kerthagosa Gold-leaf Paintings

The painting conservation program initiated by YAD will be continued with the gold-leaf paintings in Kerthagosa, Klungkung Palace, Bali. Made in the 18th century, these paintings have undergone a number of restoration attempts, the last in 2014, as well as the restoration of the roof of the building in which the paintings are housed, work carried out with government funds in the same year.

“Prince for All Seasons” Exhibition

Through its restoration program, YAD was able to contribute one extremely important painting to the “Prince for All Seasons; Diponegoro in the Memory of the Nation, from Raden Saleh to the present” exhibition at the National Gallery, namely Raden Saleh’s “Capture of Diponegoro” (1857) masterpiece. The restoration work on this painting was carried out in 2013 as part of the cooperation between YAD, the Goethe Institut Indonesiën, the Presidential Palace, and the fine art expert, Susanne Erhards, of the Gruppe-Köln. The “Prince for All Seasons” exhibit gave the Indonesian public the chance to see and examine the extremely careful restoration work on this painting for the first time.

The exhibition, which was opened on 5 February 2015 by the Minister of Education and Culture, His Excellency Anies Baswedan, was the result of a joint cooperation between Goethe Institut Indonesiën, the Indonesian National Gallery, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Yayasan Arsari Djojohadikusumo, Erasmus Huis, Antara Foto Journalism Gallery and Paramadina University.

This important exhibition received an enthusiastic and overwhelming reception from the Indonesian public. The statistics of visitors indicate that some 24000 came to see the exhibit between 6 February and 8 March 2015. Tubagus Andre Sukmana, the Director of the National Gallery, stated that the “Prince for All Seasons” exhibit was an appreciation and a recognition of the role and commitment of Prince Diponegoro.

The exhibit attempted to bring to life Diponegoro’s (1785-1855) extraordinary story through the works of classical and contemporary painters and also folk art. The works of a number of other celebrated Indonesian artists were shown at this great exhibition, including Soedjono Abdullah, Basuki Abdullah, Srihadi Soedarsono, and Harijadi Sumadidjojo.

The exhibition was curated by Dr Werner Kraus, Jim Supangkat and Peter Carey, each of whom took one of the three sections, each offering a different approach to the figure of Diponegoro.

The first part, “Diponegoro in the Mouth of Indonesian Art History; The Making of a Hero”, focussed attention on works of art which had Diponegoro as a principal theme. The main focus here was Raden Saleh’s recently restored “Capture of Diponegoro” (1857). This painting was accompanied by a number of other (imaginary) paintings of the prince, by Indonesian artists such as Soedjono Abdullah, Basuki Abdullah and Harijadi Sumodidjojo, amongst others. Besides these works, there was also a foto and video documentation of the meticulous restoration process on the Raden Saleh painting. This restoration, as stated, was carried out by Susanne Erhards of the Gruppe-Köln.

The second part “Diponegoro in the Eyes of Indonesian Artists” gave the opportunity for a number of contemporary Indonesian artists  show their paintings. These included Srihadi Soedarsono, Heri Dono, Nasirn, Entang Wiharso and many others, and their works showed the variety of different contemporary fine art approaches to the figure of Diponegoro.

The third section, “Beyond Diponegoro” focussed on the artifacts associated with the prince, such as photographs, wood carvings, gin-rummy packs, comics, batik, political posters and (legal tender) paper money. In this way, the exhibition questioned the tradition of dividing fine art from folk art and prompted debate on the nature of art in post-modern Indonesia.

The special room “The Spirits of the Dead Keep Watch” displayed three personal possessions of Diponegoro including his heirloom (pusaka) lance “Sir Nightwatchman”, his walking staff, “Sir Sun Discus” and his battle saddle. This room was known as the Heirloom Room. (Translated from Bahasa Indonesia edition by Dr. Peter Carey)

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