DADANG CHRISTANTO | Grandma Tells to Granddaughter

Dadang Christanto is unafraid of the inconvenient truth. His art practice is overtly political and deeply human, bringing awareness to mass atrocities under an authoritarian regime, even if he cannot bring justice. His compassionate and unwavering devotion to honouring the victims of crimes against humanity arises directly from the crushing memory of his father’s disappearance during 1965-66 Indonesian Genocide.

In 1999, Christanto commenced a ‘counting project’ by painting stylised human heads to mark the identity of those who have suffered; innumerable heads for countless victims. These faces see nothing and everything, they witness on our behalf. Stoic and present, they are cenotaphs marking a sinister absence.

A stark contrast is present within Christanto’s newest body of work.

…Grandma Tells to Granddaughter features an embodied subject. A survivor of horrific and brutal sexual violence perpetrated during the New Order. Within these paintings her gaze holds firm. One is forced to witness with no refuge in ignorance.

The plight for survival, especially for females imprisoned by military regimes, is at the forefront of this series. Ever present amongst the anger and sadness toward the “inhumane, machismo, patriarch” there is hope, and gratitude, and admiration in the bravery to not surrender.

A tender universal plea for humanity is once again the underpinning of Christanto’s messaging.