Sebatas Aroma (Limited to scents) by Rudi Mantofani is a striking work where the artist juxtaposes unrelated imagery to create a memorable visual metaphor. Every pictorial element in his work is intently and meticulously derived, and always with the objective to enable the layperson to access and 'read' his works. An object placed before Mantofani's vision is transformed from the commonplace to the symbolically wondrous. Logic, not emotion, guides Mantofani's practice. Intently and meticulously, he ponders over elements of his works - visual elements, composition and titling - always with the objective to achieve a basic level of logical intelligibility such that his works are accessible and read-able by audiences. Working in this mode, the artist distils lessons in life's conduct and thoughts and tells of simple truths emerging from wondrous visions.
Oversized and dramatically cast against a single tone background, the perfume bottle in Sebatas Aroma (Limited to scents) is the perfect symbol of vanity and the concern with appearances in contemporary society. A landscape appears surrealistically inside the bottle, clearly juxtaposed with the bare landscape that lies outside. The contrast speaks evocatively of what sets nature aside from the artifice. What emerges clearly in Mantofani's paintings is an honest simplicity that speaks eloquently of the object its relation to everyday life. Under Mantofani's treatment, it would appear that the pictorial genre of still life is extended. In terms of the particular focus the artist draws to the symbolic value of the painted object, Sebatas Aroma (Limited to scents), with its iconoclastic pictorial element firmly related to the immediate painted environs, advances and challenges the definition of still-life painting. The object is theatrical in its singularity, drawn from life and yet having a presence that extends beyond reality.
Together with fellow Indonesian artists Alfi Jumaldi, Handiwirman Saputra, Yunizar and Yusra Martanus, Rudi Mantofani belong to the Kelompok Seni Rupa Jendela (the Jendela Group in short). The group consolidated its identity in the mid 1990s. The essential character of Mantofani's art practice may be extracted from a broad understanding of the Jendela Group. They have consistently shunned away from declaring any aesthetic positions or cultural manifesto. The energies of the Jendela Group artists are directed not towards particular events or peoples, but towards the threads of everyday life. Instead of flashpoints and conflicts, the artists of the Jendela Group explore aspects of the transcendental, the overlooked and the banal. The distinct visual aesthetics that underline their work are built upon a sensitive understanding of local philosophy and language. The imageries employed in Rudi Mantofani's visual world reveal such an orientation. Realistically rendered as they may be, the visual elements found on his canvases and three-dimensional objects are set apart from the exigencies of daily reality.