Set on a panoramic scale that underlines and confers the monumental experience demanded by the subject matter, Museum of Contemporary Art, Talawi is one of only two paintings on this scale executed by the Indonesia painter Yunizar up to date. The work marries the nave elements evident in his works with the rarer seen move away from the gestural or the abstract expressionist tendencies of his preceding works, most notably the immediate passed Coretan (Scribbles) series.
The Coretan (Scribbles) series is notable for the primacy the artist gives to automatic drawing, a mode of picture-making that is deliberately unpremeditated and unfettered, highly dependent on the expression of the subconscious mind. Interlacing and twisting lines, at times layered, are rendered with little conscious regard for composition. But unlike Surrealist forms of automatism that thrive upon the function of chance and 'the accidental', the automatism that marks Yunizar's paintings reveal a complex set of controllable and uncontrollable factors. The significance of the painted form transmits latent desires and the realization of previously unperceived obsessions.
Considering the majority of Yunizar's such past works in which abstract compositions of text and amorphous forms have attempted to explicate thought as well as emotional states, Museum of Contemporary Art, Talawi is distinguished by its clearly defined reference to a specific locale, a specific architecture and an imagined vision, one projected into the future.
Unlike his previous Coretan (Scribbles) series which exist in a contained realm of language and text, Museum of Contemporary Art, Talawi alludes to a number of real-world interests, including the markedly personal but unrevealed relationship the painter bears toward his birthplace as well as the reference to the mandate and function of the art museum which may include the canonization of artists and artworks.
Yunizar's linework is bold and decisive, each stroke working towards a lattice interlaced and rigid, the main pictorial subject a colossal structure of architectonic perfection. Rendered by repetitious and tightly controlled broad ebony black strokes in a multitude of varying planes and deeply wrought diagonal and perspectival lines, the monumental structure is cast powerfully and centrally. Projecting the appearance of conjoined parts grafted together, the structure is armada-like; its surface cladded all round with an interlocking motif, akin to a knight's armour. Lurched slightly forward, it almost issues a countenance of readiness, facing the viewer and the world bravely.
It comes as almost no surprise that Museum of Contemporary Art, Talawi functions best when rendered on a panoramic and grand scale as it is. Talawi's geographical location makes it the heartland of Minangkabau culture. The Minangkabau ethnic group bears a matrilineal culture, with affairs of the land a traditional feminine domain. Men take charge of matters dealing with politics and religion. The edifice that Yunizar has painted bears uncanny similarities to the Minangkabau's big houses (rumah gadang). The big house is a central communal site for the family or the community. All important ceremonies and rituals are held in the big houses.
In their architecture, these houses have pronounced and dramatic curved roof structure with numerous upswept gables. The external walls of the houses are painted with abundant floral details. The ornately painted doorway beneath the sign that reads 'Museum of Contemporary Art, Talawi' in the left hand side of the painting seems to have been inspired by the external design of the big houses. In the armada-like structure of Yunizar's edifice, we see elements of the long and elaborately detailed silhouette of the big houses. What seems just a colossal structure, magnificent and imposing at first, gains a different set of meaning when read in the context of Yunizar's origin and lineage.
Marked by a verdant green and sky blue background, innocence permeates in a realm of heady optimism in Museum of Contemporary Art, Talawi. What is the nature of contemporary art - bilthe and benignly powerful? Will the museum be realised in real life? And is Yunizar hinting at a desire to return to his hometown to make good promises and obligations wrought by familial relations?