Mustofa, better knows as Gus Mus
, offered a modest, imaginative and, in my view, amusing and poetic response.
What did Gus Mus
do amid the debate over Inul's
did not give a heated comment laden with hatred or anger.
simply created a painting.
What did he
If I'm not mistaken: Inul
sensual dance with a number of devout Muslims doing zikir (chants of verses in praise of God) around her
And what next?
The painter's cultural satire went further: he
displayed the canvas in a mosque!
This move was not appreciated by everybody.
A small incident reportedly ensued. [Ed. note: these "incidents" included threats to burn Gus Mus's Islamic boarding school and mosque to the ground.]
What did Gus Mus
What was he
trying to convey through his
As a wordless visual piece, it can of course be interpreted in various ways from different viewpoints and perceptions.
I have never heard or read an explanation from Gus Mus
himself about the meaning and aim of his
Therefore, I'm only groping for its positive side.
By analogy, in the painting by Gus Mus
, the meditating Mintorogo is illustrated by the religious devotees engaged in their solemn zikir , and the erotic dance Inul performs symbolizes the seduction.
Why was it shown in a mosque instead of an art gallery?
This is just the true essence of the picture: basically it was not meant as an artistic work.
The painting was a visual sermon for the serene and clear reflection of the mosque's assemblies.
It was Gus Mus
preaching from his
heart through his
When I imagine his
painting hanging in a mosque, it seems as if I can hear Gus Mus
calmly but clearly calling out: "If we are inwardly strong, behave piously and praise God sincerely, we need no law, police, force or prison to make us capable of enjoying inner union with the Supreme Spirit.
Temptations need no chasing, no fussing.
They are sure to vanish in futility."
The writer is a cartoonist at The Jakarta Post
and a lecturer in arts and graphics at Bandung Institute of Technology
LibForAll advisor Kyai Haji Achmad Mustofa Bisri ("Gus Mus") in his pesantren (Islamic boarding school) in Rembang, Central Java in June, 2006.