Read The Messages Of Women Through Citra Sasmita’s Stimulating Art | Artist Spotlight

Meet Citra Sasmita, a painter from Indonesia


Born into a family of traditional performers, it’s no surprise that Citra Sasmita has her hand in art but her venture into it wasn’t an easy one. Although her interest was clear since childhood,  her late father didn’t approve her dreams and she ended up going to university majoring in Physics. “My dream as an artist grew again when I joined the theatre troupe on campus and then became a short story illustrator in a local newspaper. When I became an illustrator I learned intensively about art and decided to actively participate art exhibitions,” she explains.


Where do you get inspiration from?

My inspiration mostly comes from my experience. It first came from books that I read when I worked as an illustrator. I also like to observe everything in daily life — society, local markets, the minorities and especially women’s issues, gender equality and stories that are considered simple but casuistic. I try to analyse the urgency and the relevance of those issues with contemporary society. My aim is not about delivering the issues literally, so I work a lot with symbols and metaphors — I want it to be open to discussion, criticism, questioning and reflecting  together; it could be a question or reflection on other’s lives.


Describe your artistic aesthetic.

I didn’t study art formally, but I manage by turning it into a visual language. Ever since I became a fiction illustrator, I’ve learned to see that literature has the same context as visuals, only with different forms. So I’d describe it as poetry; it’s not so much the illustration but more the phenomenon that I want to express.


What’s the message you want people to take from your art?

The message of women in the patriarchal culture; and I usually put the messages in the symbols and narration of my pieces. They often make people question their position in society, their relationship with nature or it simply disturbs them which will make them reach out to me to ask about the meaning of my artwork.


The Act of Curiosity


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Is there a common theme in all your art?

Women issues are my embryo that can be developed into broader topics like humanity, ecofeminism, politics of identity that I’m still working on now.


Do you have a favourite piece you’ve done so far?

I love them all, my relationship with my art work is quite unique. If I don’t pack them to deliver somewhere, they would make me go somewhere. We fulfil each other.


What are your views on the art community?

In my humble opinion it’s like you can go far if you walk alone, but together you can go further.

Under The Skin: women are often the star in Citra’s art


What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as an artist? What do you think is the most is the most difficult thing artist go through?

An artist’s worst enemy is themselves and the battlefield is the medium that they are working with. The scariest things that an artist faces is the stagnancy even in their productive time. But once they manage to get through it, they will discover something great.


Art is important because…?

It makes you contemplate.


What are your views of women in art? Are there enough and well represented?

Honestly, I’m a little bit disturbed by the term ‘women artists’. An artist is someone who masters art or dedicates their lives into making art and I think there is no connection with gender or identity. [Gender neutrality] is what I would like to see in the art scene, although the collections in art museums are still dominated by male artists and there is still not much participation from women artists. Then the fact that the art scene is subjective, it can’t be denied. And emerging artists usually feel rejected, too. Rejection is only a phase that we have to get through. What we can do is keep going and believe in our voice and vision.


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*This interview was originally published in CLEO Malaysia Sept/Oct 2019 print issue.