Painting : The Cat (Popo Iskandar - 1975)

Title : "The Cat"

Artist : Popo Iskandar

Year : 1975

Oil on canvas.

Dimension : 120 x 145 cms.

Popo Iskandar’s painting, “Kucing” (1975), depicts a mysterious cat figure, black with white stripes, that appears to be just waking up from sleep. Relying on the effects of spontaneous and transparent strokes, the painting exemplifies one of many such animal characters that have often become the artist’s favorite object of exploration.

Popo Iskandar is known to be very essential in the way he captures his objects. However, unlike painters like Rusli who rely more on the strength of lines in colours, Popo continued to develop other visual elements and treatments. This can be seen, for example, in the treatment of texture, the effects of transparent or opaque technique in the paint medium, as well as the  deformation and composition of his objects. Furthermore, the painter continues to engage in psychological exploration to present the essence and expression of his objects revealing their character in unique ways. In his cat series he explores the essence of the various movements of the animal normally considered as a tame, cute, beautiful, even mysterious.

In his appreciation of the objects, Popo has indeed succeeded in presenting the essential characters. One can see, for example, in his skilled presentation of the vigor and masculinity of the rooster or the horse. Or how the lean bamboo stalks become a poetic rhythm on his canvass. But the most phenomenal, and one that ultimately became Popo Iskandar’s signature, is the cat. Indonesian modern art comentators have placed Popo as a modernist who successfully upheld the purity of individual creativity in his works. The essence of object characters in the imaginary space is a strong signifier of his achievement.