KSBI, Sweet Home for Borobudur Artists

ARTISTS who work around the Borobudur temple, at least until 2000s, was assumed not yet well organized. They would only gather ahead of the convening of a particular event, and then, they broke up afterwards. Arts groups was emerging but temporarily.


By SAHRUDIN, MagelangImages


“The such fact encouraged us to establish KSBI (Indonesia Borobudur Artists Community),” Umar Chusaeni said. Umar is a painter around Borobudur and also one of pioneers of KSBI.

KSBI Borobudur Java Indonesia Painting Art

Umar Chusaeni (right) and Suyatno from KSBI (Indonesia Borobudur Artists Community) in Limanjawi Art Gallery in Borobudur of Magelang Regency. Image ©Sahrudin

Borobudur is the most well known monument in Indonesia. And as a cultural icon, according to Umar, it should also be strengthened by artists activities around it. Without artistic activity surrounding, Borobudur’s appeal less than the maximum.

“You can not deny this fact. And one thing you must not forget, people who founded the temple was actually also artists,” Umar reminded. Borobudur construction was began around 800 CE (Common Era). The 750-850 CE period was the heyday of the Sailendra dynasty who built  a great number of the Hindu and Buddhist monuments in Java.

Towards the establishment of KSBI in 2003, there were participation of several artists according to their respective roles. They were Siswantoro Hadi, Adi Winarto, and Yogi Setiawan. Siswantoro Hadi is now Chairman of the Gusbi (Indonesia Unique Gallery and Art of Borobudur). Adi Winarto, an administrator of Wanurejo Village Tourism Board. Wanurejo is one of villages around the Borobudur temple.

“Yogi Setiawan, is still now busy with painting activities,” Umar explained. Additional word “Indonesia” at the end of “KSBI” was a hope that the community will widely known all over Indonesia.

KSBI currently already have an “office” in a semi-permanent building on Jalan Balaputra Dewa, several hundred meters away from Borobudur temple. This building is actually owned by the Local Government of Magelang Regency, cq Tourism and Culture Office. And up to now, KSBI artists have been also using it for art training location for orphans.

That semi-permanent building was formerly being used by fruit merchants. But later on, their business were not developed as expected due to low buyers. “In 2006, we submitted an application for the use of this place as an art studio. And the Local Government of Magelang Regency approved it, ” Suyatno added. He is also a painter who joined in KSBI.

It was not a simple thing to unify a lot of artists in an organization. Because basically, in extreme terms, an artist is “destined” for the unruly life. He was born to be free.

When in fact, to work as an artist is the same as any other job. This still requires good management, whether for the aesthetic side, financial, including the future of this profession. “Without strong organization, they will be marginalized,” Umar said.

An artist should not be selfish. The selfish artist, he argues, is only to hope of being understood by someone else, and only thinks of his works. “Meanwhile, he himself is indifferent to others, including life and family needs. An artist and his family also need welfare. So, there is no other way, make use the Borobudur due to its market and advantage, ” Umar, the man was born on May 6 1972, said.

To the selfish artist stereotype, Umar has interesting explanation. The act of creating takes a lot of time. So does perfecting techniques and the experimentation and trial-and-error it takes to continually challenge ourselves and improve. More often than not, spouses and family can’t be included in these activities.

On the other hand, another reason an artist may be selfish with his or her time is because some artists need a lot of alone time in order to do their best creating. We put a great deal of ourselves into our art and doing so is necessary if we want our personalities and perceptions to shine through our work.

” Sometimes an artist needs to reserve a little bit of their creative selves in order to ensure that it will be protected, thrive and grow,” he added.

More than 40 artists are now become members of KSBI, and each has different background in art, like literature, painting, batik (Javanese traditional textile hailing) and also sculpture. However, most of KSBI members are painters. To spur the passion for artistic creativity of members, several events are held in a year.

“Every artist has his own character. For instance, a painter who gets his spirit to work only when he is going to participate in an exhibition. There are many artists like that, including me, ” Umar said and laughing. He himself admitted, during the year 2010 he has never been painted at all. In fact, if he is in good mood, he usually able to create at least 5 paintings in a year.

Paintings of artists members of KSBI can now be seen at the gallery and in Limanjawi Studio Art Gallery. About 50 paintings have been being displayed in KSBI studio, while in Limanjawi Art Gallery, there are 200 and more paintings in various sizes.

Most enthusiasts of KSBI members paintings are European tourists, who visiting the Borobudur Temple. “But at the gallery, they usually can not linger. Hawkers will immediately come up to those tourists, just after they getting off the bus. Tour guide is also usually set visiting hours, some minutes in one place, and some minutes to another point, ” Umar said. [magelang.images@yahoo.com]

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