Yogyakarta 1999: Febri Antoni, Gusmen Heriadi, Saftari, Yon Indra, Zulfa Hendra and Ardison – six student artists at the Fine Arts Department of the Art Institute of Indonesia in Yogyakarta – developed a feeling of creative unity, a spiritual connection. They joined together under one organization. Genta, they called it, a word derived from the Minangkabau language, ganto, meaning “small” and also means bell (lonceng) in Indonesian. Thus suggesting the meaning of a “small bell” – which recalls the awareness on the artists’ existence.Meanwhile Ardison left the group and Febri Antoni passed away at the end of March, 2005. Now Zulkarnaini has been invited to join and produce works for this exhibition, so Genta becomes Genta Plus.
The emergence of Genta was based on two main grounds. Firstly, the basis of ethnic cohesion, and secondly, the motivation of reciprocal inter-personal creative flow.
Their initial sense of cohesion was based on the fact that they all came from the same ethnic group, that is from Ranah Minangkabau in West Sumatra, and shared a similar “fate” – being wanderers, scraping together their knowledge about art and life in Yogyakarta. This ethnic cohesion should not be equated with the spirit of extra-tribalism which, during the same period, was influencing the trends in socio-political behavior of a segment of contemporary Indonesian society. That spirit tended to be destructive and anarchistic. On the contrary, the ethnic cohesion in the context we are discussing was based on a desire to forge togetherness. They felt a communal desire to minimize any sense of individuality.
At the same time, these six artists needed creative space which could be formed from their shared framework of creative thinking. This issue certainly required them to first overcome personal psychological obstacles in order to move on to the question of esthetic perspectives. So, Genta was developed to accommodate interests related to esthetic issues, in the name of future creative progress.
Hopefully, in the future, this group is able to consolidate their theoretical framework to become an “agent” in a stronger and more focused fine arts movement, also to realize the “creative ideology” that they imagined and aspired to. Although this isn’t an absolute prerequisite for an art group, it could surely help to foster the development of a group identity.