Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rastika, RIP

I have just been informed by a friend from the town of Gegesik that the great pelukis kaca (painter on glass) Rastika from Desa Gegesik Kidul (Cirebon, West Java, Indonesia; pictured above in a photo taken in front of his sanggar in 1993) passed away this weekend.

Rastika is considered to be one of the key figures in the revival of the craft of lukisan kaca (reverse painting on glass) in Indonesia in the 1970s and 1980s. His colourful and lively work was grounded in a deep knowledge of the wayang kulit tradition, the product of a long apprenticeship with the Gegesik puppeteer Ki Maruna.

One of the breakthroughs he is associated with is the transformation of lukisan kaca from an art form for mystical symbolism and the depiction of individual wayang figures (wayang ijen) to the representation of scenes from wayang kulit, above all the Bharatayudha (or Prang Jaya as it is known in the Gegesik wayang tradition). For this he drew upon the bramakawi illustrated manuscript tradition, of which Ki Maruna was probably the last living master. Rastika also applied his technical mastery of the medium to the depiction of everyday life, including a series of paintings commissioned by Kompas.

Rastika was a regular participant in national festivals and exhibitions and his work was highly sought after by collectors. With the rise of lukisan kaca prices in the late 1980s he was able to support other artists around him in Gegesik,particularly in the field of wayang, gamelan and topeng.

He will be missed by many.