Painting : The Hawkers (Hardi - 1988)

Title : "The Hawkers"

Artist : Hardi

Year : 1988

Oil, acrylic on canvas.

Dimension : 145 x 150 cms.

This expressionist painting entitled “Pedagang Asongan” (1988) expresses a satire in a symbollism that represents the anxiety of street children. These street hawkers run away in all directions chased by a figure resembling a red ball of fire. Behind it is the face of municipal police brandishing a weapon. The visual signs and movements evoke the feeling of chaos, while the ball of fire adds a symbollic dimension of worry, enhanced by the barren city setting. The contrasting colors of black streets and a dominant yellow, as well as white buildings with a blue sky, build the atmosphere of a scorching daylight adding to the feeling of enease.

Hardi is an exponent of the Seni Rupa Baru Movement that advocates contextualism and plurality of form in art expression. He is an artist with an open personality, critical, and often exposing prevailing social problems. In many of his works, Hardi astutely reveals the society’s sociopolitical ironies in various new visual idioms. When the movement emerged during the New Order, he created a work entitled “Suhardi Calon Presiden Tahun 2001” (Suhardi for President 2001). He was imprisoned because the painting was seen as an insult to the presidency. Wrapping his criticism in parody is Hardi’s hallmark.

In the work “Pedagang Asongan” one sees a satire in the depiction of the lives of the marginal people. Being chased and evicted and constantly subject to violence and harassment while trying to eke out a living is their daily reality, as if being constantly chased by a ball of fire. The government, which was supposed to protect its weak subjects, has incarnated itself into an antagonistic, if not demonic, figures of the state apparatus chasing after them. Power that is, ironically, impotent and incompetent. This parody is at once dramatic and humanist.