Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Defining Beauty



SRIHADI SOEDARSONO


Portrait of a Lady (1993)


Not her, but a distant cousin..











I had chance upon her during a visit of an Indonesian Trade Fair exhibition sometime ago, the year of which now misses me, entirely.

She was looking towards the horizon, but for all intentions, you somehow knew that she knew she was the subject of admiring glances. There was a sweetness of innocence about her, something so surreal and yet, so down to earth. I had walked passed her, but managed to catch a glimpse through the corner of my eyes, and it was enough for me to do a backtrack of my steps, stunned by the simplicity and grace in her beauty.

While some might frown at her show of ample skin in baring her shoulders and the upper part of her chest, her doing so provided the most vivid of contrasts between her fair skin and the myriad of colors in her sarong, tied neatly just above her bosoms (as Javanese and elderly Malay women of the yesteryears are wont to do). Her dark hair emitted its own radiance, highlighting her perfect features even more.

Up close and personal, I saw that she was even more beautiful than I thought she was.

I knew the VGA camera in my Sony Ericsson Z600 would not do her any justice, but it was the only thing I had. Even with a snapshot stored inside my phone, I returned to the booth yet again when its time to leave the exhibition.

She had no name, and the only identity to the artist who drew her was a scrawl I could not decipher. I left it at that and walked off, cursing myself for not being rich enough to just buy the painting so that I could gaze at her for the rest of my life.

Unlike those by the Great Masters, this painting seemed as though the artist was enjoying him or herself fully, perhaps chatting with the model even as the image presented itself on canvas. The final work was so simplistic in its strokes that you’d almost swear that even you could do it.

She stayed on in my mind for a while, but as the saying goes – out of sight out of mind – and now I do not know where the pixilated file resides as I have since changed phones. After a while, I totally forgot her until I boarded the Putra light train, heading from Setapak to Suria KLCC. They had this Art Gallery-on-wheel presentation as the train’s interior d├ęcor – kudos to the management for the high five to Malaysian art lovers – and, lo and behold, one of the portraits emblazoned along the make-believe corridors was a painting etched in the same style, the same pose.

Memories of her came racing back. While this portrait was certainly fairly executed, it pales with the image etched in my mind’s eye. Alas, frantic search could not arise her file, lost amidst years of similarly forgotten images and snapshots.

I search long and hard in the Internet, hoping for some art aficionado to have come across her and posted the image. No such luck, but I did come across a delightful rendition by Indonesian artist, Srihadi Soedarsono, lifted from one of the many Art sites I am coming across with increasing frequency.

It’s not her, but then again, this one’s not so far off. Could well be a distant cousin.

If only I was rich enough. Beauty would have been firmly in my grasps.