The Sydney-based Indonesian artist Jumaadi uses the snake as a symbol of a dualistic universe. His intricate painting on buffalo hide imagines a cloud-like form created from two snakes entwining.
Jumaadi is originally from Surabaya in East Java. He is grounded in both Western art and the culture, ideology and traditional crafts of Indonesia, including wood carving, shadow puppetry, furniture making and decorative painting. The culture of Bali is particularly important to him: he has lived in the village of Kamasan, East Bali where he absorbed their painting traditions. In Yogyakarta he was influenced by the Wayang Kulit shadow puppet theatre and he learnt how to work with buffalo hide.
The Snakes Wedding is inspired by a story of creation, where gods seek to populate earth by blowing seedlings from their hands. These grew up to be quite beautiful and were adopted by an old couple who brought them back to heaven. Unfortunately, this made the god angry and he killed the male, who dropped to earth, becoming a snake. The woman met a similar fate and became a mouse. The image of the wedding is an idealised version of their reunion. The entwining of the snakes takes on the cloud pattern found in batiks of Cirebon known as megamendung. These evoke a sense of ceaseless duality.
According to curator Cassandra Lehman:
For Jumaadi, dualities and contradictions persist in most of what he surveys. Duality and repetition are to be found in the works of this exhibition, through contradictions of scale and purpose; a small house inside a small room, inside/outside, awake/asleep and the repeated use of the black and white check patterns.
Jumaadi: House of Shadow is at artisan, 45 King Street, Bowen Hills, Brisbane, 16 November 2019 – February 2020. Jumaadi will also be exhibiting work at Mosman Gallery from 7 December 2019 and performing My love is an island far away for the Sydney Festival on 21 January 2020.