ART ASIA PACIFIC ALMANAC 2021 | Exhibitions of 2020: Citra Sasmita ‘Ode to the Sun’

Chloe Chu, Ophelia Lai, HG Masters, Art Asia Pacific, January 1, 2021

Citra Sasmita: Ode to the Sun Yeo Workshop, Singapore


Visitors to Citra Sasmita’s exhibition were enveloped in an earthy turmeric aroma. The artist had laid a circular stratum of the spice on the floor and scrawled into it verses from an epic Javanese kakawin poem, which was blurred as wafts of air dispersed the golden powder. In the surrounding traditional Balinese Kamasan-style paintings, Sasmita further effaces the kakawin’s portrayals of females as desired sexual objects or domestic tools. Instead, she depicts women as rulers of their own universes: trees grow from their wombs and flames cover their loins, symbolizing their might as creators and destroyers, while disfigured creatures with raven locks toy with stereotypes of forceful women as frightening. Unabashedly reckoning with the male-centrism of Indonesian culture, Sasmita foregrounds the powers that all women possess.