JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Joint Indonesian art and restoration teams are restoring bas-reliefs dating from the rule of Indonesia’s first President Soekarno, which were found in Sarinah, Jakarta’s oldest shopping center, following their discovery in November 2020.
The experts particularly put their nose to the grind, after State Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir reviewed the artworks and ordered it to be conserved and repaired.
“As an art lover, I was saddened to see that the bas-reliefs were neglected and in disrepair. This goes against the premise that great nations are those that acknowledge and cherish their works of art,” said the entrepreneur on Friday, January 15.
“That is why I ordered Sarinah’s management, as well as Wijaya Karya or Wika, as the mall’s affiliate, to collaborate with [the Jakarta Provincial Administration] in restoring the bas-reliefs to their original condition.”
In a YouTube video uploaded in November 2020, the art and restoration teams found the three meter tall and 12 meter wide artwork stored away in an electricity and mechanics room.
“The reliefs have been kept out of the public eye since they were stored in the electricity and mechanics room in 1980,” said Sarinah President Director Fetty Kwartati.
“Aside from the Jakarta Provincial Administration, we are working with the Ministry of Culture and Education to conserve the bas-reliefs. We are also still searching for the artist who was commissioned [by Sukarno] to create the work, as they knew how the bas-reliefs originally looked.”
The bas-relief showed scenes of rural life, among them farmers in bamboo hats harvesting their crops or taking water buffalo for their baths in rice paddies, women carrying fresh produce, as well as fishermen bringing in their catch.
Fetty said the bas-reliefs will be exhibited in the main gallery, where they will be an attraction in their own right. As a work of art, they will be accorded a heritage site along with the rest of Sarinah.
The Jakarta Cultural Heritage Team has filed Sarinah as a cultural heritage site to the government in 2016.
Soekarno opened Sarinah in August 1966 as a department store to boost Indonesian manufacturing. Named after his childhood nanny, the showcased batik and other traditional goods from Indonesia’s Small and Medium Enterprises [SME’s].
Sarinah’s renovation is estimated to cost the government Rp.500 billion [$33.5 million], Rp. 200 billion [$13.4 million] was already covered in the 2020 state budget. The shopping center is expected to be reopened on National Heroes Day on November 10, 2021.
(Writer: Ihsanuddin | Editors: Rindi Nuris Velarosdela, Sandro Gatra)
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