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"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

Message from the roof of the world

March 17, 2008

Sun, 03/16/2008
Arts & Design

Enrico Soekarno produces Eden-like landscapes which are scattered with
hidden Tibetan symbols that emerge, surreptitiously, gracefully, over
days of viewing, like deep, resolved meditations on their subjects.

In works such as The Self Created, Gyantse Dzong and Drepung Prayer,
Enrico draws holy sites, landscapes redolent with spiritual meaning. The
pen etches. He creates with perfect gestural control, with driven patience.

The Self Created shows a corner of the Swayabhunath Temple in Nepal, the
location of the biggest community of Tibetans in exile. Of Gyantse
Dzong, Enrico says "As you go down, you go through an area called
Gyantse. The architecture is Nepali, in the shape of the mandala. There
are 100,000 images of Buddha inside."

He adds: "This is where the British attacked in 1904; they massacred all
the monks."

Enrico makes portraits, with a raw intensity, which explore and chart
the lines of the face.

There is a haunting beauty in these portraits though never in a smile,
sometimes not even in the lines, but in the essential surface of the
face, in the cheeks or the brow and in the subtle tilt of the head.

The portrait of the Dalai Lama, titled Ocean of Wisdom is a favorite for
many, many people. "They can see the complexity of the deep expression
lines in his forehead," the mapping of thoughts, Enrico said.

In The Wheel of Law Enrico draws the golden rooftops, the hallowed
cloisters of Lhasa's Jokhang Temple, which is the spiritual center of
Tibet, all glistening and crafted with bells, a jewel set amid the green
folds of mountains and the pristine sky.

"This one I gave to the Dalai Lama," Enrico said. "We had a meeting
about what we were going to give him when we saw him. Everybody was
saying 'You give him his portrait, it's amazing', and I said that a
Buddhist wouldn't like a portrait.

"But I was voted out, three to one. And sure enough, when we got there,
he didn't really look at it.

"So I sent this one (The Wheel of Law) afterward. It is a place he
misses. The very place where he sat for his final examination.

"Now they install hidden cameras in the temple because it was the site
of the rock-throwing".

Enrico also like drawing old women, as in Ladakh Lady and Yambu Pilgrim,
because of the creases in their faces.

He maintains they have reached the apex of beauty. Each wrinkle is in
the right place as it traces a history, with the roots of a tree
burrowing down, being more beautiful than the new foliage above.

There is also stark evidence of age in the harrowed and harrowing faces
of the Tingri Urchins, depicting two girls, one wrapping her arm around
the other. A protection that is more solid and warm than any literal
garments they may wear are the symbols on the garments. They are grubby,
these girls, they are without food, yet they are protected by symbols,
by belonging to Tibet.

Rise Up is based on a famous photograph of robed figures hurling chunks
of concrete, or stones. Enrico said: "He (the photographer) managed to
be in the right place and the right time to take the picture. With it I
took some compositional liberties. It is my favorite and went on to the
cover (of the catalog). As with some of my big works previously, you
will look into them and you will see something new every day, that has
been deliberately hidden."

Enrico's works are somehow like the bookplates for those traditional
books of fairytales that grow out of childhood memory, channeling the
brothers Grimm in the realm of deep, dark fairytale.

Vivid, rooted in a precise reality are the many scenes and characters
made from those hatched and cross-hatched lines.

Driven and fearless, Enrico Soekarno works with a 0.1 felt-tip pen,
etching the surface of the paper, working it over and over again, over
and over at the risk that it will reach saturation point, become soggy
with ink and tear from the middle.

-- Eilish Kidd

"Out of Tibet"
Enrico Soekarno
March 10-31
Langgeng Icon Gallery
Kemang Icon by Alia hotel
Jl. Kemang Raya 1
Phone: (021) 7180719
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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