Religious Aesthetics in Mudji Sutrisno Sketches

January 21, 2014

By Winarto


Silent Meditation, sketch, worked by Romo Mudji Sutrisno

Aesthetics is often reduced only as arts. It is true that wider and more in depth than arts, aesthetics is men creative ability in their culture. This ability, then, creates language on the beauty. If the inspiration is from humanity it will be human aesthetics. If the inspiration is from the struggling for peaceful values it will be peaceful aesthetics. So do when the inspiration is from religious values it will be religious aesthetics.

This, the religious aesthetic, which was delivered by Mudji Sutrisno through his sketches in the exhibition entitled “Dari Stupa  ke Stupa” (From Stupa to Stupa) at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM),Jakarta,January 8 – 17, 2014.

Mudji Sutrisno SJ is a Roman Catholic priest, lecturer at Sekolah Tinggi Filsafat (STF) (Philosophy School of Driyarkara), Jakarta, and a writer. He is well known with call name Romo Mudji (Father Mudji).

As a churchman and writer Romo Mudji used to express his opinion through articles, essays or poems. But, recently, he finds new media that is sketch. During last three years he has made three times exhibition of his sketches.

The Stupa: Highest Spiritual Achievement

As art expression, through Romo Mudji’s creativity, sketches become the media of contemplation in depth and beautifully about life, on the relationship between human being and nature, between human being and God, the Great Creator. His art works here were the result of his contemplation during his spiritual journey to Nepal and other countries like as Thailand,Laos,Kampuchea and Vietnam. In his journey he observed building of Buddhist temples. He enjoyed spiritual situation there and found the physical manifestation of “stupa” building at the temple as a symbol of the highest spiritual achievement  of Buddhist.

“Walking around stupa from one to another temple I have been in silent moment and speechless,” Romo Mudji said.

Durga Parwati, sketch, worked by Romo Mudji Sutrisno

His memory, then, backed to a time when he was a student of Seminary School in Magelang, Center of Java. When he visited Borobudur temple, a great Buddhist temple in Magelang, someone he called “guru” (teacher) showed him the same shape of stupa at Borobudur as leaf of Bodhi tree. Bodhi tree is a tree that shaded Buddha Gautama when he was in contemplation and got the enlightenment.

The memory of Borobudurand and his reflection of stupa pushed Romo Mudji to create sketches and presented them here at the exhibition “From Stupa to Stupa”. Through sketches he asks us to go journey in the depth sea of spirituality. Here he tries to compare the spiritual meaning of stupa with cupola of cathedral and dome of mosque.

His sketches here bring us to silent and meditative situation, make us to contemplate something divine.  He likes to leave empty room on sketch paper. Some sketches show single line which make certain shapes such as  stupa and figure in praying position. There were 50 sketches displayed here. Beside stupa building, there were drawing about mountain, valley, boats on a beach.

Colored Sketches

The Sacred Color, sketch, worked by Romo Mudji Sutrisno


The use of long line without broken part is a characteristic of his sketches. This is a difficult technique to draw, so this characteristic has been the power of his art works. It is true that all his works use the single line without broken. It is especially on complicated shapes such as the building of temple as a whole with any details.

It is also interesting here that some of his sketches are colored. Romo Mudji tried to put colors on his sketches because he was impressed by colorful flour used in a ritual inKatmandu,Nepal. “I was mesmerized by the color pouring like as red, green and yellow at the top of stupa. The color in this sacred ritual is an invitation to celebrate life with merry,” Mudji said.

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