The father of Indonesian Modernism, Sudjojono is predominantly known for his most valuable painting of 1973 “The Battle of Sultan Agung” or 1985’s “The New Movement”. The special performance “Hey Djon: When poetry Meets Music” which was held at Vin+ Kemang, South Jakarta in December focused on his work which included both paintings and poetry.

Renowned poet Sapardi Djoko Damono recited two of Djon’s poems, “Harum”  and “Mijn Bruid en Mijn Koningin” during the special performance “Hey Djon: When poetry Meets Music” at Vin+ Kemang, South Jakarta. Photo courtesy of S Sudjojono Center/NOW!JAKARTA

Organised by the S. Sudjojono Center, the event featured a performance which aimed to extend S. Sudjojono’s love of art to the current generation, not just through his painting but also other other mediums including literature, drama, dance, music, and sculpture.

Inspired by Sudjojono’s nickname ‘Djon’, the 90-minute performance was an intimate portrait of a number of emerging artists and fans of his works. These included Putri Minangsari (dancer), Araa 2124 (rapper), Masget (Sasando player), Portofolio (band) red their original poems inspired by Sudjojono works and his personal life. Mesmerising video mapping and visual works from Mantratattva created a dramatic atmosphere which included a poetry reading with movement, rap, and music.

Renowned poet Sapardi Djoko Damono recited two of Djon’s poems, “Harum” (Fragrant) and “Mijn Bruid en Mijn Koningin” (My Bride and Queen), taken from his painting “My Queen”. In the dimly light room, Sapardi delivered the soul of Sudjojono’s poems to the audience who was drawn to tears, remembering Sudjojono’s expression “Jiwa Ketok” (Visible soul).

A total of 30 poems were found by his family. Although he was more of a visual artist, one could feel that words appeared in his sketches and paintings. Indeed, his paintings which captured daily life and social issues formed a narrative that people could understand.

Maya Sudjojono, one of Djon’s daughters, remarked that her father was very vocal and honest about his feelings. “He always took notes, just like a diary. If he was angry, he would write something. For those who are familiar with his works, we can see his words or sentences in his paintings,” Maya said.

Indonesian dancer, Putri Minangsari combine poetry reading and movement during her performance at Vin+ Kemang.

Several of Sudjojono’s poems are personal—a number of them were written for his wife— singer Rosalina Rose Pandanwangi, who was his inspiration. On the other hand, his language was universal, which made it relatable.

“I have always felt it and I hope it resonates with somebody. With the rise of poetry shows among young people, I think it’s the ideal time to host this performance,” Maya said.

The hybrid performance that combines multidisciplinary art forms in “Hey Djon” are scheduled to be held again in February, July, and December next year as the part of the 

S. Sudjojono programme series. “Poetry Meets Music” is a teaser for the upcoming exciting event that is expected to have a different theme.

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Rintang Azhar

Rintang Azhar

Rintang is a previous staff writer for NOW! with experience in hard news and lifestyle journalism. He specialises in art, design, culture, fashion, environmental, and urban issues.