Painting : The Flag of Red and White (Bonyong Munni Ardhi - 1975)

Title : "The Flag of Red and White"

Artist : Bonyong Munni Ardhi

Year : 1975

Mixed Media.

Dimension : 125 x124 cm.

Bonyong’s critical appreciation for the various social and political events in the inequitable system of state and government fomented his awareness for the social reality prevailing in the society. In his work “The Flag of Red and White” (1975), he expresses it through a crimson red plane and a contrasting white to symbollise the flag, and the space, of Indonesia. On the bottom corner, there is a collage of seven headless baby figures arranged in a line suggesting the present generation that is born without a national identity. In addition to that, it is also an historical portrait of the many victims in the prevalent sociopolitical inequities in the space of awareness about Indonesia.

Bonyong Munni Ardhi is one of the exponents of the Indonesian New Art Movement (Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru, GSRB) whose paradigm is contextualism and plurality in the art media expression. In many of his works, Bonyong expresses the contradictions and social ironies that occur in his surroundings. His empathy for the pervasive disparity guided his critical awareness about the power system and domination of the authoritarian state. The paradigm of plurality in the artistic language of expression became his avenue to explore all creative possibilities – from painting, sculpture, happening art, to installations. His endeavors to present social concreteness became one of his hallmarks that is evident in all his works.

In this work one can capture Bonyong’s critical expression of the nation’s nationalism. His empathy for the social condition of the inequitable society, the deprivation of values of humanity, to the absurd cultural and nationalist identity, are among the themes presented to reflect on the entity of nationhood. The headless babies in this work are a portrait that knocks on the different humanist facets.