The present lot, Of a village on top of a mountain, is a distinctly unusual landscape painting. Besides the fact that it is a painting of the physical environment, it defies all conventional expectations of being able to visually survey and command a particular spatial arena. Compositionally, it is flat with no distinction between foreground, middle and background; instead, one plainly faces a rock cliff with a levelled off top where cluster of houses form a semblance of a village. Instead of a landscape that speaks evocatively of ideal transcendental beauty or harmony among Man and Nature, we find that Rudi Mantofani's interest is directed more clearly at the creation of visual parables.
Indeed, his art practice is one that reveals a distinct philosophical core - "In his art practice, Mantofani ponders deeply over the philosophy of everyday life - advocating virtues such as patience, moderation and the circumscription of excesses. He looks far and searches deep, trawling for visual metaphors and devising original pictorial schemas to present distilled lessons in life's conduct and thoughts. In the process, simple truths emerge from wondrous visions." (Wang Zineng, Rudi Mantofani: Wondrous Visions, Simple Truths, Asian Art News Mar/Apr 2008, p. 91)
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. An object placed before Mantofani's vision is transformed from the commonplace to the wondrous. Its essential character is processed and distilled in the artist's mind. What emerges is simplicity of truth that speaks eloquently not only of the object but more importantly of its relation to the philosophy of everyday life. (Ibid, p. 93)
Rudi Mantofani formed the Kelompok Seni Rupa Jendela (The Window Group), or Jendela Group for short, in 1993 with other artists who hail from Padang studying art in Yogyakarta. 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 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.