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Reform Magazine | December 5, 2023

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Art in focus – February 2023

Art in focus – February 2023

Christ and the Fishermen, 1998
Bagong Kussudiardja

Jesus in yellow sunspecs – who knew! I love this picture. Jesus is hanging out with a motley crew of fishermen; the fishing trade going on in the background. Its painter, Bagong Kussudiardja, who died in 2004, made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Indonesia. As well as a painter who worked with the traditional art of batik, he was a dancer and choreographer. Padepokan Seni Bagong Kussudiardja, the art centre that he founded, is still an active focus for the arts in Indonesia today. He put it like this: ‘I always had the desire to plant the feeling of responsibility to those who learn at the Padepokan, so that they feel the need to serve society and humanity on behalf of the arts or mediated by the arts.’ He was a Christian and many of his works explore Biblical subjects from an Indonesian perspective. In our picture, Jesus is surrounded by young Indonesian fisherman – cool dudes with all shades of skin colour, wearing shorts and vests and no shoes. Some of their shapes are reminiscent of shadow puppets. We tend to forget that the core group of Jesus’ disciples were lads, probably in their late twenties, from a couple of fishing families on the shores of lake Galilee. Yet they would go on to become some of the best-known and most influential people in world history. It is hard to underestimate the influence of one person, be they an artist like Kussudiardja or the young fishermen who Jesus called to follow him.

Art in focus is curated by Meryl Doney


This article was published in the February 2023 edition of Reform

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