This catalogue was published by the School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore in conjunction with the exhibition S. Sudjojono: Lives of Pictures held at ADM Gallery, 17 January to 1 March 2014, co-curated by Syed Muhd Hafiz, Seng Yu Jin and Wang Zineng with T.K. Sabapathy as the Academic Advisor and Editor of this catalogue. ÂŠ 2014 School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and writers. All rights reserved. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism, no part of this publication may be reproduced by any process without consent form the publisher. ISBN: 978-981-07-8974-9 All opinions expressed within this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily of the publisher. Direct all enquiries to the publisher: School of Art, Design and Media Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 81 Nanyang Drive Singapore 637458 The National Library Board, Singapore Cataloguing-in-Publication Data S. Sudjojono: Lives of Pictures T.K. Sabapathy, Editor 1. S. Sudjojono. 2. Indonesian art. 3. Syed Muhd Hafiz, Seng Yu Jin, Wang Zineng and T.K. Sabapathy 4. School of Art, Design and Media. 5. Modern art. EXHIBITION Guest Curators: Syed Muhd Hafiz, Seng Yu Jin, Wang Zineng Curatorial Project Manager: Robert B. Epp Curatorial Assistant: Lee Qiu Ling Artistâ€™s Timeline: Lee Qiu Ling Video Editing: Suhaila Said CATALOGUE Academic Advisor and Editor of Catalogue: T.K. Sabapathy Writers: Aminudin TH Siregar and Teo Hui Min Print Design: Factory 1611 Printing: Jostar PHOTOGRAPHY Ken Cheong Hock Cheun FRONT COVER Self-Portrait 1970 Oil on canvas 73 x 62 cm Collection of Family of Paul Lau Tsz Pan
Jalan Di Muka Rumahku (The Road in Front Of My House)
Anggrek Di Alam Bebas (Orchids In The Wild)
Dunia Tanpa Pria
Kebun di Pacet (Garden in Pacet)
Garapan Pagi (Morning L abour)
Taman Djoko Dolok (Djoko Dolok Park)
Mevrouw Senang Ketawa (The L ady Likes To L augh)
Draw & Paint
Chair’s Message by
Nanyang Technological University and the School of Art, Design and Media are honoured to be a part of the centenary celebrations of the birth of one of Indonesia’s most highly regarded artists, S. Sudjojono (1913 – 1986). S. Sudjojono is recognized as the father of modern Indonesian art, and throughout the past year in Indonesia, there have been many exciting events organized by the S. Sudjojono Center as part of Seabad S. Sudjojono (The Centennial Celebration of S. Sudjojono). We are pleased to present S. Sudjojono: Lives of Pictures at the ADM Gallery that will contribute to the commemoration of this renowned artist, writer and Indonesian nationalist. The School of Art, Design and Media is dedicated to providing rare opportunities for our students to expand their knowledge of the art of Southeast Asia in its many forms, and to deepen their awareness of the significant contribution the artists in the region have made, not only to Southeast Asian art, but also to art internationally. The exhibition S. Sudjojono: Lives of Pictures supports the art history program at ADM as well as serving all of our programs by providing a firsthand learning experience where faculty and students across the School, College, and University can engage with important original works of this multi-talented artist. I wish to congratulate the curatorial team of Seng Yu Jin, Syed Muhd Hafiz, and Wang Zineng, and exhibition advisor and catalogue editor T.K. Sabapathy on their success in organizing this beautiful exhibition and its accompanying publication. ADM Gallery Director, Robert B. Epp, and the ADM Staff assisted the curatorial team throughout the production of the project, and I wish to thank them for their hard work and dedicated efforts. On behalf of NTU and ADM I wish to sincerely thank the S. Sudjojono Center in Jakarta, and the private lenders for their support of this special exhibition. It is through their generosity and enthusiasm that we can celebrate the life and work of this exceptional artist in S. Sudjojono: Lives of Pictures.
Vibeke Sorensen, Professor and Chair School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University
Director’s Foreword by
Robert B. Epp
ADM Gallery is pleased to present the work of the late Indonesian maestro, S. Sudjojono (1913-1986) in the exhibition, S. Sudjojono: Lives of Pictures. With an acclaimed body of work spanning six decades, Sudjojono secured his place long ago in the history of Southeast Asian art, and his reputation as one of the founders of modern painting in Indonesia is beyond dispute. However, like memories, or stories, a work of art takes on a life of its own over time, as it passes through many hands. History has bestowed Sudjojono’s life, and in particular his artmaking legacy, with attributions, interpretations, and values that might not necessarily belong to the works themselves, or that they deserve. With this exhibition, co-curators Seng Yu Jin, Syed Muhd Hafiz and Zineng Wang, bring a fresh perspective to our understanding, and experience of Sudjojono’s life and work. Guided by academic advisor, T.K. Sabapathy, the renowned Southeast Asian art historian and curator, they revisit the received art historical narrative of Sudjojono’s life, and probe the provenance of his art through a special selection of paintings contextualized within extensive archival material drawn from the S. Sudjojono Center in Jakarta, shown here for the first time. S. Sudjojono: Lives of Pictures reveals not only Sudjojono’s virtuosity as a painter who took Indonesian art in an altogether new direction; it also offers us a new look at the socio-political forces at play in Indonesia at the time, and his deep relations with family that were central to his art. My appreciation is extended to all who have contributed to this exhibition, catalogue and related programming. This past year I have had the pleasure of working closely with the curatorial team that has brought to this project their impressive skills and knowledge from their respective fields, as specialists in Southeast Asian art. I wish to congratulate them on their success in realizing this ambitious project. I want to thank the co-curators, Seng Yu Jin, Syed Muhd Hafiz and Zineng Wang; curatorial researcher, Lee Qiu Ling; and academic advisor, T.K. Sabapathy who also took on the responsibility of editor for the accompanying catalogue, and contributed the introductory essay. Thanks to Aminudin TH Siregar and Teo Hui Min for their insightful catalogue essays, and to Roy Wang and Mark Ong for their attractive design of the catalogue and exhibition collaterals.
S. Sudjojono: Lives of Pictures was made possible with support from key individuals and institutions. I wish to sincerely thank Rose Pandanwangi and the S. Sudjojono Center in Jakarta, and the private lenders for their enthusiasm and invaluable contributions to the success of this show. We are also grateful to the National Arts Council, Singapore, for a publishing grant for the catalogue that will provide an important record of the exhibition, and advance the scholarship of S. Sudjojono and his art. Robert B. Epp, Director ADM Gallery
Installation view, ADM Gallery
Curators’ Notes by
Seng Yu Jin, Syed Muhd Hafiz, and Wang Zineng
S. Sudjojono: Lives of Pictures is borne out of our research into archival materials at the S. Sudjojono Center. Rose Pandanwangi and family members from the S. Sudjojono Center in Jakarta are planning to organise a series of exhibitions, discussions and even an opera performance in different cities in Indonesia; collectively, these events are named as Seabad S. Sudjojono 1913 - 2013. Singapore marked a turning point in Sudjojono’s life. In 1935, he left Bangka in Indonesia for Singapore, enroute to Paris, the then art capital of the world. He found employment at the Ceylon Art Studio, an advertising and photography company where he encountered reproductions of works by John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough in publications. It quickly dawned on Sudjojono that he did not have to go to Paris to be an artist; all that he needed was available at home in Indonesia. While sojourning in Singapore, he met Indonesian intellectuals and revolutionaries residing here who convinced him that Indonesia needed artistsintellectuals like him to guide where Indonesian art should go. Singapore turned out to be a crossroad for Sudjojono. He decided to return to Indonesia, a decision that would shape the rest of his artistic life. It is therefore fitting that Singapore forms one of the sites for Seabad S. Sudjojono 1913 – 2013 exhibitions, given its role in his formative years as an artist. We have written on and curated exhibitions of Sudjojono’s work that have lead up to this exhibition. For instance, Strategies Towards the Real: S.Sudjojono and Contemporary Indonesian Art (2008) was curated by Zineng for the National University of Singapore Museum (NUS Museum). In it Sudjojono was positioned as a conceptual anchor for exploring ‘the real’, via this artist’s propagation of Jiwo Ketok (Visible Soul) and his call for Indonesian artists to depict real social and political conditions in their country as opposed to artists who painted the Mooi Indië (Beautiful Indies) for tourists, and for making connections to contemporary art produced in Indonesia that are seen as continuing to explore these ideas in different ways. Hafiz and Yu Jin have been working on archival materials at the S. Sudjojono
Installation view, ADM Gallery
Centre, digitizing them to further their research on this artist by contributing essays for the Seabad S. Sudjojono 1913 – 2013 exhibition catalogue. The curatorial concept of this exhibition sprang from our discussions with art historian, T.K. Sabapathy, who is its academic advisor and editor of the accompanying publication. Our approach leans towards anthropological interests as we set out to examine the lives of artworks, in ways similar to tracing the biography of an artist. Hence, Sudjojono’s artworks come alive as the mysteries, controversies that surround them and even their double lives are made visible through archival materials such as photographs, letters, catalogues and newspaper cuttings, as well as video interviews. All of these breathe fresh life into the individual artworks, profiling their varied and multiple histories. This approach departs from customary thematic perspectives that frame interpretation and understanding of Sudjojono’s art. We seek instead to open up readings that dwell deep inside the stories that remain largely hidden. This exhibition also proposes ways of using archival materials by relating them to the artworks and enlivening their study and understanding. Viewers are prompted to assume active dispositions in order to interpret the rich array of materials, and imaginatively put together the stories that tell the lives of these pictures. S. Sudjojono: Lives of Pictures could not be possible without the support of the ADM Gallery and its Director, Robert B. Epp who believed in the art historical significance of this exhibition. We would also like to thank the S. Sudjojono Centre, the generous lenders, writers and T.K. Sabapathy for their guidance and generosity in accompanying us on this journey that brings new insights into S. Sudjojono - an artist, intellectual, educator and patriot of Indonesia.
Amir Sidharta, S. Sudjojono: Visible Soul (Jakarta: Museum S. Sudjojono, 2006), p. 30. Antariksa, “Between Revolutionary Stronghold and Laboratory of the West: Political Positions in Indonesian Fine Arts in the 50s”, in Contemporaneity: Contemporary Art in Indonesia (Shanghai: Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, 2010), p. 61.
This exhibition features paintings and drawings by S. Sudjojono (1913-1986), an artist of immense importance; in the first instance in the history of art in Indonesia and in the second, in representations of the modern in Southeast Asian art. The former is acknowledged unreservedly and reiterated mandatorily; so much so the paternity of modern art in Indonesia is traced solely to this artist, whereby he is hailed as “the father”. The latter is hinted at; his position in the story of the modern in the region of Southeast Asia, such as it is, remains undeveloped and unexamined. In two monographic publications issued in 2006 and 2013 respectively, Sudjojono’s life and art are described and appraised exclusively; they are also correspondingly cast in national terms.1 That is to say the artist, his practice and artworks, his thoughts and visions are presented, on one hand, as unrivalled and on the other hand as somewhat in tandem with recent histories of Indonesia, initially as a colonial and subsequently as a post-colonial entity. I say exclusively and unrivalled because Sudjojono is treated as a singular, exceptional phenomena, and as unrelated to his contemporaries. Such representations may well be spurred by ambitions to endow him with an exemplary status; even so, it is well to remember that exemplariness in the human sphere is claimed and substantiated along comparative trajectories, and not in isolation. I say somewhat because relationships between the artist’s life/work and the constituting of an independent state by revolutionary operations and political actions are not maintained consistently in these accounts. The two appear as diverging at salient moments; this is one way of saying it. Another would be to say that the two are not ostensibly connected in all instances and all of the time. There may well be reasons for this; if so, writers who are featured in these publications do not mention them and therefore do not deal with such separateness when regarding Sudjojono and his art. For the present I draw attention to these matters as they impinge upon the make up and contents of this exposition. The exhibition features a modest selection of paintings and drawings; the earliest picture in oil is dated 1959 while the most recent in this medium was composed in 1985, a year before Sudjojono died. An album consisting of 19 drawings
produced in 1969 is displayed. There also is a drawing executed in 1965; this is of special interest, as its design and topic resemble a painting that is dated 1956, although they are titled differently How may they be seen as related? This question assumes heightened pertinence in the light of kinships that are said to customarily prevail between a drawing and a painting. Creatively and critically the former – especially when it is appraised as a preparatory sketch – is regarded as preceding the latter. In this instance the order or sequence appears as reversed. In these respects, how might we interpret the two pictures, relationally? It is, of course, conceivable that the drawing anticipates a new, commissioned painting whose brief requires or asks that the forthcoming picture replicate an earlier work. Reworking older works is an established , recurring trait in artistic practice. A work fabricated by means of embroidery is included in this show; it is attributed as jointly produced by Sudjojono and Mia Bustam, who was his first wife. It consists of a scheme that the artist has rendered as a drawing; it is subsequently embroidered and developed into a formal composition by his then partner. It marks the only known collaborative production in this artist’s life. Two picture categories are discernible in this show; one has to do with depictions of the figure, female and male, appearing in a variety of situations and signaling differing dispositions. They are shown as portraits, as collectively symbolizing social and familial topics, and as revealing bodies as nudes. At times figures are seen as synthesizing a number of these traits or characterizations; that is to say, a nude may well register portraitist interests or a social subject may be particularized by biographical affiliations and identities. Attention is drawn to these matters in descriptions of pictures provided in this exposition and its accompanying publication. The second, prevalent picture category has to do with representations of landscape, prompting a number of approaches. There are paintings in which nature is dominant and commanding; there are pictures in which we see nature accommodating humans and yielding to their needs. There also are compositions in which nature appears as partially designed in order to facilitate or enhance human habitation and wellbeing. And there are representations in which nature seems to simulate human-like dispositions. As with interpretations of figural works, the exposition and publication illustrate and describe landscape with some of the attributes that I have mentioned. The two picture categories that I have named may adequately encompass the scope of Sudjojono’s creative practice. In other words, the figure and landscape signify the twin ideals and resources that fuel and shape his painterly world. If these remarks are tenable, they can be secured as premises for conducting systematic, historical studies of Sudjojono’s art and thoughts, and do so in relation to his contemporaries and predecessors. This exposition is not aimed at scaling such formidable prospects, although dealing with matters that are historically resonant is its heartbeat. It sets
out to look into the lives of pictures by examining circumstances in which they were produced or created; interest is also directed to describing, illustrating situations in which works were shown, seen, acquired, transferred and publicized. Of course these are not new; writing or discussing artworks spin around these kinds of issues or subjects. What is different in this instance is a focus on a handful of pictures by one artist from the region of Southeast Asia, and teasing out for each of these works perspectives along which we may appreciate their destinations. These perspectives entail knowledge and awareness of (a) biographies of the artist, his family and associates (b) artistâ€™s ambitions, ideals of and thoughts on art, as they are represented subjectively, socially and politically (c) resources for the practice of art (d) reception and patronage of artist and art (e) milieu in which art is produced, shown and seen, circulated and represented. Each work in this exposition is framed and enlivened by some of these interests although they are not directed to the pictures evenly and consistently. Interpretation tends to lean towards affiliating biography with artworks; that is to say, writers assume that connections between the artist and the work is implicit and direct. This is, of course, debatable. Still, an interesting and important beginning has been made into coaxing pictures to yield aspects of their lives. 19
T.K. Sabapathy teaches the history of art at the National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University. He researches into and publishes on art and artists in Southeast Asia.
1 The publications I have in mind are the following: Amir Sidharta, S. Sudjojono. Visible Soul, Museum Sudjojono and Canna Gallery, Jakarta, 2006, and Seabad S. Sudjojono, 1913-2013, Seabad S. Sudjojono Center, Jakarta, 2013.
Jalan Di Muka Rumahku (The Road in Front Of My House) by
Syed Muhd Hafiz
Amidst the foliage that dominates this painting, one cannot miss the trees that flank the road. More than just providing shade for passing pedestrians and vehicles, the trees have been marked by what looks like white paint. This seems odd to us and for some who might even consitute it as an act of vandalism. Why would S. Sudjojono, the man who was known for his fiery speeches and nationalistic paintings of Indonesia, choose to depict a seemingly mundane view of a street from the front of his new house? In many ways, 1959 was a watershed year for Sudjojono. This was the year that he officially married Rosalina Wilhelmina Poppeck (later changed to Rose Pandanwangi) after obtaining a divorce from his first wife, Mia Bustam. Being the public figure that he was, his second marriage caught the attention of not just the artistic community but also the general public. That decision, like this painting, can thus be seen as a culmination of a challenging phase in his life.
In many ways, 1959 was a watershed year for Sudjojono. In 1955, Sudjojono had been elected as a member of the House of Representatives at Indonesiaâ€™s first general election as an independent nation. As a politician, the first of his many sacrifices was the constant parting from his family. As his office and parliament were in Jakarta, he had to travel by train for a few hours from his residence in Yogyakarta. Therefore he would spend the weekdays in Jakarta and only head home during the weekends, sometimes complaining that he missed his wife and their children.1 His busy schedule as a politician inadvertently took a toll on his art practice too.
Figure 1 S. Sudjojono Jalan Di Muka Rumahku (The Road in Front Of My House) 1959 Oil on hardboard 86.5 x 82.5 cm Private Collection, Malaysia
Figure 2 Rose Pandanwangi and S. Sudjojono â€“ 14th July 1959 Image courtesy of the S. Sudjojono Center
While some would see Sudjojono’s role as a politician as laudable and in line with his nationalist espousal of an ‘Indonesian Fine Art’, he was often a frustrated politician. He felt that on some occassions, his party members saw him as just ‘one of the followers’ and his views were not taken seriously.2 His frustrations as a politician was however offset by his burgeoning romance with Rose Pandanwangi around the same period. Thus it was not a surprise that he chose love over his career as a politician. His relationship with Rose was frowned upon by his peers within the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI); he left the party and subsequently married Rose after finalizing his divorce from Mia Bustam. He then explained his ‘resignation’ from the party in his characteristically witty manner, “It is alright because the party will never grow old. Rose Pandanwangi will however, grow old, that is why I chose her”. 3 (Fig. 2)
He then explained his ‘resignation’ from the party in his characteristically witty manner, “It is alright because the party will never grow old. Rose Pandanwangi will however, grow old, that is why I chose her”. Casting our lens back on the painting Jalan Di Muka Rumahku (The Road in Front Of My House) (Fig. 1), we are greeted by a seemingly-mundane view of the street in front of the artist’s house. One can only imagine what must be going through his mind as he attempted to re-build his life after a tumultous year in which his divorce from his first wife and his resignation from the party, would have grabbed the public’s attention. The ubiquitous white marks on the trees hark back to a time before street signs became the norm. Lining trees along the street can be seen as a nostalgic reminder of the simple, rural navigation system that demarcates villages in Indonesia. Thus this painting can be read as Sudjojono’s contemplation of his past, a marking of life’s sign-post, before moving on from his past and starting afresh. In his attempts to re-start his new life, Sudjojono was lucky to have some patrons that he could still depend on. Adam Malik, a senior journalist who later became Indonesia’s third vice-president and ambassador to the Soviet Union and Poland, was more importantly one of the biggest art patrons at that time. Having acquired a collection of about 500 paintings then, Adam Malik was the next most well-known art patron amongst the political establishment of Indonesia, after the the founding President himself, Sukarno. Jalan di Muka Rumahku was one of a few paintings that he bought from Sudjojono, helping the artist to tide over his financial difficulties.4 The relationship between Sudjojono and Adam Malik started back in the 1930s when the latter, as a journalist, was covering the founding of Persatuan Ahlahli Gambar Indonesia (PERSAGI), the first artists’ association for Indonesians.5
Image courtesy of the S. Sudjojono Center
Having acquired a collection of about 500 paintings then, Adam Malik was the next most well-known art patron amongst the political establishment of Indonesia, after the the founding President himself, Sukarno. Jalan di Muka Rumahku was one of a few paintings that he bought from Sudjojono, helping the artist to tide over his financial difficulties. Since leaving the collection of Adam Malik, Jalan di Muka Rumahku has been in the hands of private collectors – twice having been bought off auctions, once in 2008 and recently in 2013, each transaction registering a higher bid than the preceding one. It is interesting to note that in the latter transaction, the title of the work was named as Jalan di Muka Rumah Kami (The Road in Front of Our House)6 compared to the title printed in the 1979 publication on Adam Malik’s collection. This subtle difference would have made a difference in studying the artist’s intention and state of mind while producing this artwork. Although at first glance this painting might not be the typical, nationalistic Sudjojono work that we have come to be familiar with, Jalan di Muka Rumahku is a highly-symbolic work speaking of renewed beginnings and, ultimately, signalling a change in the artistic direction of the man they called ‘Bapak Seni Lukis Moden Indonesia.’
Syed Muhd Hafiz is currently a curator based in a museum in Singapore. Prior to that he obtained his M.A. in Art and Politics from Goldsmiths, University of London. His academic interests include exhibition-making, history of civilizations and rock ‘n’ roll music.
1 Bustam, Mia, Sudjojono dan Aku (Jakarta: Pustaka Utan Kayu, 2006), p. 223. 2 Ibid, p. 224. 3 Rhoma Dwi Aria Yuliantri & Muhidin M Dahlan, “POLITIK SENIRUPA Lekra” Lekra Tak Membakar Buku: Suara Senyap Lembar Kebudayaan Harian Rakjat 1950-1965, Merakesumbe, 2008, in Seni Rupa Indonesia dalam Kritik dan Esai, eds. Bambang Bujono & Wicaksono Adi, (Jakarta: Dewan Kesenian Jakarta, 2012), p.184. 4 Tjoe Ing, Liem, Paintings from the Collection of Adam Malik (Jakarta: P.T. Intermasa, 1979), p. 9. 5 Emond, Bruce. “Two of Hearts.” JakartaPost.com. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2008/01/23/two-hearts.html (accessed December 15, 2013). 6 “Sale 3205, Lot 20.” Christies.com. http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/paintings/s-sudjojono-jalan-di-muka-rumah-kami-5689638-details. aspx (accessed December 15, 2013).
Figure 1 S. Sudjojono Nude 1959 Oil on canvas 144 x 100 cm Collection of Wee Woon Gek
Seng Yu Jin
The nude has a long history in European art and is upheld as an exemplary artistic and philosophical ideal in Western art and culture. Greco-Roman heroic idealisations of the body gave way to modern interpretations of the nude , as exemplified by Manetâ€™s Olympia (1863), replacing timeless odalisques safely viewed as objects and subjects of detached beauty with direct encounters with a prostitute waiting for a client. The male viewer is forced to confront the sexuality, discomfortingly and anxiously. In this way, the boundaries separating nakedness that imports embarrassment and shame, from the nude as an ideal are eroded. How do we appraise Nude, one of the earliest such pictures painted by Sudjojono in 1959, the same year he married Rose Pandanwangi? Why did Sudjojono begin painting the nude only from 1959 and continued to do so subsequently throughout his life? What does the life of Nude (Fig. 1) tell us of the importance of the female body to Sudjojonoâ€™s artistic practice? Representation of the body in Indonesian art can be traced to the Hindu-Buddhist monuments featuring sculpted composition of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata influenced by Hindu-Buddhism. The Prajnaparamita in the collection of the National Museum of Indonesia, epitomises extraordinary beauty as recorded in the Pararaton (Book of Kings). The body is associated with abundance, fertility, prosperity and even power as seen in the sculptures of partially draped Hindu deities that celebrate sexuality, erotic love and union as one way to reach the divine. The body as sacred and sensuous in the tradition of Hindu-Buddhist art and philosophy, and the body as nude giving rise to erotic and voyeuristic feelings in the viewer in European art are different but equally legitimate ways in which the body is represented; both traditions are known to Sudjojono, as it is intimated in his writings on Indonesian art.
Figure 2 Image courtesy of the S. Sudjojono Center
In Seni Loekis, Kesenian dan Seniman, Sudjojono paved a new way for Indonesian artists to assume the heroic task of making a new modernity. It is worth quoting at length: They (Indonesian artists) shall create a new, enthusiastic and impetuous visual arts in the service of truth; leaving behind the past they shall live today to better the world of tomorrow. These new painters will not just depict idyllic huts, bluish mountains and romantic corners, in other words, picturesque and saccharine subjects. They will also paint sugar factories and the emaciated farmers, the automobiles of the wealthy and the long trousers worn by the young, the shoes, gabardine trousers and the shirts of tourists on the paved road. Because those are our circumstances, thus is our reality. And a visual art that brings this reality to live, that does not derive its beauty from ancient times, Majapahit or Mataram, or from the ideas of the tourist, such an art will live as long as the world shall exist. Because high quality art comes forth from daily life, it is obtained through the artist’s inner life, which is inseparably bound with his daily surroundings. Art that is created without taking morals and tradition into account, without a definite goal, motivated only by an inner force. 1
It is this desire to manifest the visible soul of the artist that also pulls away from morality and traditions and that explains why Sudjojono painted nudes throughout his artistic life. This inner force was further explained as an artist’s Jiwa Ketok, or ‘visible soul’ whereby an artist must strive for the truth that is grounded in actual, social conditions that are lived in today, rather than idealised and romanticised depictions of a world that does not exist in reality. It is this desire to manifest the visible soul of the artist that also pulls away from morality and traditions and that explains why Sudjojono painted nudes throughout his artistic life. In Nude, the figure depicted is Rose Pandanwangi seen in their new home at Pasar Minggu. The atmospheric intimacy of this painting is heightened by a single source of lighting that illuminates her body from the rear, accentuating the sensuous contours of her body as in representations of Hindu dancers whose curvaceous lines depict dance movements. Although there is a light switch on the wall in the background, the light is from a candle rather than from electricity. According to Rose Pandanwangi, candle light created constantly shifting shadows that cast dancing shadows.2 These dancing shadows relate to Wayang Kulit, shadow puppets made from leather that tells dramatised epic stories from the Ramayana. Sudjojono draws from both European notions of the nude and Javanese performing arts traditions. Painted in 1959, this painting marked the start of Sudjojono’s life with his new family with Rose Pandanwangi. The life of this painting also coincides with his split from
the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and its left wing politics. The PKI was opposed to Sudjojono’s divorce.3 His painting of Nude could be read as manifesting a break with his previous life as a politician and as an artist inspired by communist ideologies, which in turn determined his style of painting and his advocacy of Social Realism. He shifted away from dogmatically insisting that art should serve to set right social, political and economic injustice towards an art ‘motivated only by his inner force’, which required a new creative source.4
His painting of Nude could be read as manifesting a break with his previous life as a politician and as an artist inspired by communist ideologies, which in turn determined his style of painting and his advocacy of Social Realism.
Sudjojono’s engagement with the female nude, for which Rose Padanwangi was his sole model after they were married in 1959 (Fig. 2). The nude embodies the inner force; and Rose as his muse. The nude also fuelled a creative surge, overcoming prevailing indecisiveness leading to the inability to complete any painting.5 Rose recounts seeing a number of unfinished pictures when she visited his studio in the late 1950s. Sudjojono depicts Rose’s nude back view by employing chiaroscuro to illuminate and highlight the sensuous curves of her body. Rose was not a passive subject, as she decided on the pose, tilting her head slightly in tacit acknowledgement of the viewer’s presence. There are two pairs of slippers near the bed; that which is nearer to Rose belongs to her while the other signals the presence of the artist. The two pairs of slippers signify their union as husband and wife and who have just been married. They also signify their intimacy and binding sexuality.
The nude embodies the inner force; and Rose as his muse. Nude marks a shift away from art as a representation of the public themes and issues towards an interior confessional mode. In my view, the two profiles are two embodiments of the visible soul. As such, the visible soul should not be conceived as a monolithic concept but a dynamic one that changed over time. This shift not only affected his paintings of the nude but also his surrealistic landscapes and other subjects. The nude as a genre returned Sudjojono to the self and to a sense of individualism as an artist whose visible soul was now heightened by the erotic and the sensual whereby morality and tradition were set aside in the artist’s imagination. This painting marked a shift from an artistic ideology dominated by
political and social purposes towards a rediscovery of an interiorised inner truth unbounded by ideologies. For Sudjojono, the beauty of the body as both sacred and erotic became his new source from which his visible soul could be manifested; and Rose was central in this efflorescence.
Nude marks a shift away from art as a representation of the public themes and issues towards an interior confessional mode.
1 S. Sudjojono, ‘Kesenian Meloekis di Indonesia, sekarang dan Jang Akan Datang’, Keboedajaan dan Masjarakat, 6 October 1939, republished in S. Sudjojono, Seni Loekis, Kesenian dan Seniman (Yogyakarta: Penerbit Indonesia Sekarang, 1946) translated by Helena Spanjaard. 2 Interview with Rose Pandanwangi by Seng Yu Jin on 17 Nov 2012, Sudjojono Center, Jakarta. 3 Amir Sidharta, S. Sudjojono: Visible Soul (Jakarta: Museum S. Sudjojono, 2006), p. 84. 4 S. Sudjojono, ‘Kesenian Meloekis di Indonesia, sekarang dan Jang Akan Datang’, Keboedajaan dan Masjarakat, 6 October 1939, republished in S. Sudjojono, Seni Loekis, Kesenian dan Seniman (Yogyakarta: Penerbit Indonesia Sekarang, 1946) translated by Helena Spanjaard. 5 Interview with Rose Pandanwangi on 17 Nov 2012, Sudjojono Center, Jakarta.. Abang Rahino shared this view in an interview on 3 Dec 2013 in Yogyakarta.
Anggrek Di Alam Bebas (Orchids In The Wild) by
Teo Hui Min
Within Sudjojono’s oeuvre of landscape paintings, Aggrek Di Alam Bebas (1985) (Fig. 1) distinguishes itself as a work that not only brings together many of the thematic concerns that he explored during his earlier years, but also one that tells a story about the regeneration, continuation, and resilience of life. Beyond being a clear example of Sudjojono’s technical ability and artistic style, the painting holds an element of the uncanny – seen as an amorphous, almost anthropomorphic tree stump dominating the central field of the canvas, serving as the base from which the vibrant orchids spring. Unlike landscape paintings such as Kebun di Pacet (1985) and Garapan Pagi (1967) that present to the viewer a clear sense of space, Anggrek Di Alam Bebas immediately confronts the viewer with this central element, rather than allowing for a more exploratory gaze associated with landscape paintings. As an artist known for his realist style, as well as the highly symbolic and referential elements that appear across the various genres in his practice, Anggrek Di Alam Bebas offers insights into a synthesis of the concerns and preoccupations of Sudjojono late in life. Working to establish a school of artistic thought and expression within Indonesia that differentiated itself from the legacy of naturalism descended from the influence of Indo-European painters, Sudjojono’s art looked towards a transcendental perspective of nature.1 This entailed an emphasis on depicting the essence of the land beyond dutiful (but ultimately flat) replication, and an exploration of one’s place and relationship within the environment. Importantly, the landscapes of Sudjojono are not only means of expressing his patriotic appreciation for his homeland, but also spaces for the reflection and elaboration of the landscape within his own mind as he sought to reveal and express himself through his art. Frequently including abstract and surrealistic elements into the rendering of his otherwise meticulously realistic paintings, Sudjojono’s art is characteristic of a
Figure 1 S. Sudjojono Anggrek Di Alam Bebas (Orchids in the Wild) 1985 Oil on canvas 91 x 71 cm Private Collection, Singapore
masterful blurring of boundaries between the conscious and the unconscious. In Anggrek Di Alam Bebas, the fine detail of the delicate leaves and blooming orchids stand out against an expressionist style and rough brushstrokes in the background, deliberately creating close and intimate perspectives that highlight the flowers. When viewed from any other perspective, the detail of the otherwise unassuming orchids would be lost within a vast wild landscape; but here, Sudjojono has effectively presented them as his primary focus. Demonstrating a desire to locate beauty within the details and minutiae of life, the painting represents a mature development of the early tenets of his artistic manifesto that emphasised a turn toward the elevation of aestheticism and truth. Indeed, a reading of Anggrek Di Alam Bebas as an intimate landscape painting becomes clear as one traces the significance of the depiction of flowers within Sudjojono’s artistic career. Acting as symbols of connectivity between concepts of femininity, nature, regeneration and the fragility of life, the depiction of flowers within Sudjojono’s work is relevant both thematically as well as personally through his association of flowers with his wife and daughters. While it is well known that the frequent appearance of roses in his work refer to his love for his wife Rose Pandanwangi, it is interesting to explore the deeper iconographical significance of flowers within Sudjojono’s artistic vocabulary. Sudjojono’s still life paintings of cut bouquets were more than simple exercises in technique, but attempts at immortalizing the transient beauty contained within each collection of flowers. Having painted the first anniversary bouquet that he presented to Rose, Sudjojono also went on to paint the wedding bouquets of several of his daughters as means of recording and memorializing important moments in his family. It is interesting to note that in the bouquets painted for his daughters Srietje (1972), Pandan (1983) and Wicky (1984), the arrangements all included orchids. Shown laid on tables or hanging to be dried after the event, Sudjojono captures these bouquets at liminal moments where they are no longer featured in their earlier crucial role at their respective weddings, but have yet to begin their inevitable decay. Through the act of painting, Sudjojono preserves them in states of unchanging and transcendent beauty. Returning our attention to Anggrek Di Alam Bebas, the carefully arranged bouquets of orchids are transposed into the “wild”, and removed from the shelter of an interior. In this context, the flowers are nevertheless all the more vibrant as they arrest the viewer’s attention with their bright colours and upward-reaching stems. Compared to the bouquets of cut flowers that now reveal themselves as limp and awaiting obsolescence, the orchids in the wild seem to be brimming with life and the potential of further growth. Sudjojono’s representation of their triumphant survival is all the more impressive given the unpredictability of the environment, and the fragility of the orchid’s bloom.
In an earlier painting, Di Alam Bebas (1962), Sudjojono depicts a youthful nude within an idyllic Garden of Eden setting, reaching out towards a small bird and a blooming flower. As she reaches up, she tiptoes upon a multi-coloured tiled floor – a recurring motif signifying a blurring of the real and the surreal within the artist’s mind. While a demarcation between the tiled floor and the grassy landscape exists, Sudjojono challenges the boundary between interior and exterior, manmade and natural, as the woman extends her arm to connect with her surroundings, and as a boulder and some small weeds encroach into the tiled area. By intertwining binary opposites, Sudjojono effectively refutes the ideal of a pristine existence, an untouched land of the “Beautiful Indies”, and instead presents a land that is dynamic and open to change. Given the consistent association between nature, the importance of family, and the desire to imprint and express himself in the landscape of Indonesian modern art, it becomes interesting to think about Anggrek Di Alam Bebas as a symbolic self-portrait, inflected with his continued desire to represent his perspective of truth and beauty in Indonesian landscape. In Anggrek Di Alam Bebas, it is the anthropomorphic stump that serves as the anchor for the surrounding flora. Obtaining nutrients from the decaying form, the orchids and other plants are able to flourish. Depicting the cycle of death and the regeneration of life is the focus of this painting – a notion particularly pertinent in relation to the artist’s own life. It can be said that one of Sudjojono’s tenets of artistic practice was for the assimilation of the artist’s soul into the essence of painting, and of the connection of the artist with his surroundings.2 A family man, many of Sudjojono’s children had entered into adult life by the late 1980s, and in turn begun their own families. Being diagnosed with lung cancer, Sudjojno’s deteriorating health perhaps prompted a consideration of his legacy both in art as well as in life.
Given the consistent association between nature, the importance of family, and the desire to imprint and express himself in the landscape of Indonesian modern art, it becomes interesting to think about Anggrek Di Alam Bebas as a symbolic self-portrait, inflected with his continued desire to represent his perspective of truth and beauty in Indonesian landscape. As a painting, Anggrek Di Alam Bebas has spent most of its time within a private collection, coming into wider public attention at an auction before being featured in this exhibition. Referencing much of Sudjojono’s personal hope for a continuation of his essence through paintings that would outlive him, as well as through his children,
Sudjojono in his studio painting his daughter, Pandan Image courtesy of the S. Sudjojono Center
this is an intimate work that has been appreciated within the setting of a home for its warmth and vibrancy. Although published in Amir Sidharta’s Visible Soul, this picture has been largely unseen and not widely circulated. As a landscape painting that goes beyond the task of replication, the setting of Anggrek Di Alam Bebas enters it into a universal dimension, untethered by the specification of location. Revealing itself through an understanding of Sudjojono’s history, his family, as well as themes and symbols recurring in his artistic career, the painting carries with it a subtle story of death and regeneration. By means of its changing provenance or ownership, Sudjojono’s story and legacy persist.
Teo Hui Min has a background in Social Anthropology, and recently graduated with a M.A. in History of Art from University College London. She has had experience working with curators in the Singapore Art Museum, Asian Civilizations Museum, and GX Gallery in London. She is currently interested in researching the social and cultural context of 20th century Southeast Asian art.
1 Supangkat “Sudjojono the Pioneer” in Amir Sidharta, S.Sudjojono: Visible Soul (Jakarta: Museum S. Sudjojono), p.251. 2 Helena Spanjaard, Modern Indonesian Painting, (Sotheby’s: Up Productions, 2003), p. 54.
Figure 1 S. Sudjojono Dunia Tanpa Pria (World Without Men) 1964 Oil on canvas 121 x 187 cm Private Collection
Dunia Tanpa Pria (World Without Men) by
One of the largest and most complex nude paintings by Sudjojono, Dunia Tanpa Pria (World Without Men), has the makings of a key artwork in the evolving historicisation of modern Indonesian art; particularly in understanding how artists and audiences in the present and the past perceive the nude in Indonesian art. How has audience reception changed in the world’s largest Muslim country which is a nominally secular democracy, but where conservative Islam has always held sway in all aspects of societal discourse? This essay started out with the intention of reflecting upon the tradition of the nude in Indonesian art, and through it, raise a point about how this 1964 work by Sudjojono, titled ever so matter-of-factly, in fact subverts itself. Esteemed scholars in the discourse of visual culture such as John Berger and Laura Melvey have convincingly demonstrated that it is precisely the existence of the viewer’s ‘male gaze’ that the genre of the nude has existed (and continues to exist) in art history and visual culture.1 Viewing a nude is an essentially voyeuristic act; the viewer is not just directly involved but is also conditioned to view it in a voyeuristic manner. We know that Sudjojono’s nudes, all of which featured Rose Pandanwangi as their model, were commissioned works – a fact that implicates the commissioner of the work and the artist as primary viewers of the paintings. How could such a culpable male gaze be ignored and even denied by Sudjojono? Who really dares to believe that men do not exist in the Arcadian-like pictorial world of Dunia Tanpa Pria? However, over the course of writing this catalogue essay in December 2013, a potentially more pressing issue came to the fore; the authenticity of Dunia Tanpa Pria came into question as the painting became ensnared in controversy precipitated in a recent exhibition with a showing of a nearly identical work titled Tempat Mandi Di Pinggir Laut (Seaside Bathing Place) (Fig. 2) in Jakarta.2 TEMPO, the Indonesian news agency built on its reputation for quality investigative journalism, published a four page article titled Lukisan Sudjojono Kembar (The Twin Paintings of Sudjojono) on 29 December 2013. The article marked the terrain of the controversy surrounding the existence of Dunia Tanpa Pria and Tempat Mandi Di Pinggir Laut, citing the recollections of a number of persons from the Indonesian artworld, amongst them were the respective owners of the two paintings and Rose Pandanwangi.3
The article marked the terrain of the controversy surrounding the existence of Dunia Tanpa Pria and Tempat Mandi Di Pinggir Laut, citing the recollections of a number of persons from the Indonesian artworld, amongst them were the respective owners of the two paintings and Rose Pandanwangi.
The two paintings are both signed, titled and dated to 1964 at the top right corner and measure four feet tall and slightly over six feet across. Compositionally, they are identical, differences are only borne out in details. In Dunia Tanpa Pria, the standing nude with her back facing the viewer in the centre of the painting is fully undraped and holds onto a red shawl whilst the same figure in Tempat Mandi di Pinggir Laut has a black shawl draped over her left shoulder. Another fully undraped nude in the foreground with her back facing the viewer in Dunia Tanpa Pria is replaced by a figure clothed in a orange-red dress in the other picture. The kapok tree, a longstanding symbolic motif for the artist, appears in the top right of Dunia Tanpa Pria but is replaced by a frangipani tree in Tempat Mandi di Pinggir Laut. Beyond these differences in details, the two painting are otherwise indistinguishable from each other. Dunia Tanpa Pria had been purchased in the 1980s for a pricey sum of US$3,000 by the present owner, a private collector in Singapore, from a longtime business associate and close friend, the Indonesian shipping magnate, Jusuf Sulaiman. Often referred to as Om Jo, Jusuf Sulaiman was actively collecting in the 1950s and 1960s, and developed close friendships with many of the first generation Indonesian artists including Sudjojono. He was also famed as the founder of Santi Gallery, an influential gallery in Jakarta in the 1990s. According to the present owner, Sudjojono had sold Dunia Tanpa Pria to Jusuf Sulaiman, making him the second owner of the painting. More recently, in searching deeper into the history and provenance of his painting, the present owner came to learn that Djohari bin Adiputro, the father of the ex-Jakarta governor, Fauzi Bowo, himself a collector, had seen Dunia Tanpa Pria while it was still being executed and was offered the opportunity to acquire it by Sudjojono, but had then declined before the painting was eventually acquired by Jusuf Sulaiman.4 Rose Pandanwangi remembers a related part of the history of the Dunia Tanpa Pria. According to her, Sudjojono had more than three-quarters done painting Dunia Tanpa Pria when he received a guest unknown to Rose on a particular Sunday. The guest was very taken by the painting and asked to acquire it, purportedly as a gift for his wife who was very ill, but Sudjojono explained that he had already promised the sale of the painting to another collector. The guest returned the next day to continue prevailing upon Sudjojono to let him acquire the painting. Eventually, the artist
Figure 2 ( bottom) S. Sudjojono Tempat Mandi Di Pinggir Laut (Seaside Bathing Place) 1964 Oil on canvas 91 x 71 cm Private Collection, Singapore
was persuaded by his guest to paint another version of Dunia Tanpa Pria, whose identity Rose Pandanwangi says she did not manage ever to find out. However, she acknowledged that it was uncharacteristic of her husband-artist to promise a version of an earlier work. She recalls that Sudjojono intended this second version of Dunia Tanpa Pria (eventually titled Tempat Mandi di Pinggir Laut) to be distinguished from the first, presumably realising in the differences discussed earlier in this essay. Rose recounts that her husband made a sketch (its whereabouts is unknown) of Dunia Tanpa Pria when painting this later version and asked her, as well as Sara Sri (Rose Pandanwangi’s daughter from a previous marriage) to pose again, so that he could rectify certain details he was not satisfied with from the first version. As far as recollections take us in the study of provenance and athenticity, the social life of Dunia Tanpa Pria is ostensively traceable back to the time of its creation. It bears a complete, unbroken record of ownership, from its present domicile in the collection of the Singapore-based private collector to its immediate past owner, Jusuf Sulaiman, who had acquired the painting directly from Sudjojono. An opportunity to interview Jusuf Sulaiman would reinforce the provenance of the painting and shed light on when, how and why Sudjojono painted it but Jusuf Sulaiman passed away more than ten years ago and there are no known documentation of the existence of the painting in his collection. The prevailing understanding is that Sudjojono’s nudes were largely painted on commission. Was Dunia Tanpa Pria, like the other nudes produced from the late 1950s onwards through to the 1970s, a commissioned work? And if so, at whose behest? Why would the painting be offered to Djohari bin Adiputro before Jusuf Sulaiman, if it was indeed painted on commission, presumably from the latter?
As far as recollections take us in the study of provenance and athenticity, the social life of Dunia Tanpa Pria is ostensively traceable back to the time of its creation.
In the case of Tempat Mandi Di Pinggir Laut, its provenance trail begins from the point of its appearance at an auction on 23 October 2011 in Singapore. According to the TEMPO article, the seller of Tempat Mandi Di Pinggir Laut had acquired the work from an earlier sale held by the same auction house. The seller of the painting is, coincidentally, related to the present owner of Dunia Tanpa Pria through the marriage of the latter’s son with the daughter of the former. He decided to sell the work at an auction again after having learnt of the existence of Dunia Tanpa Pria through his son-in-law and subsequently speaking with the father of his son-in-law, the present owner of Dunia Tanpa Pria. When interviewed, the auction house in question deferred to its code of conduct in maintaining confidentiality of its buyers and sellers, declining to reveal the identity of the seller on the first occasion Tempat Mandi Di Pinggir Laut was sold. With that, the painting’s provenance trail is broken.
As the present unfolding controversy of the two paintings demonstrates, a complete, discoverable provenance is foundational to raising the discussion onto firmer, verifiable grounds. One cannot underestimate the value of being able to establish an ideal provenance trail: comprising of documentary record of the owners’ names; the dates they came into possession of the artwork; the locations where artworks have been kept; and finally, the mode of transfer, for instance, via direct sale (in the case of Dunia Tanpa Pria) or auction (in Tempat Mandi Di Pinggir Laut’s case) or inheritance.
As the present unfolding controversy of the two paintings demonstrates, a complete, discoverable provenance is foundational to raising the discussion onto firmer, verifiable grounds. Even so, the often shifting and slippery nature of recollections, witnesses’ accounts, certificates, receipts, photos and other forms of documentation means that provenance cannot in itself unlock the crux of the controversy. Quarters of the Indonesian artworld have called for a scientific approach to the examination of the two paintings. There is utility in deploying chemical analysis towards the identification of pigments used by Sudjojono. Identification tests and documentation leading to a clearer understanding of the type of canvas and supporting media used would also be useful in bolstering knowledge of the materials preferred by the artist. Verification of the artist’s signature and inscription has been useful in the past in authentication tests and continues to have relevance. The questions asked and methods developed today will pave the possibility of truth tomorrow.
1 John Berger had noted in his seminal Ways of Seeing that “... the essential way of seeing women, the essential use to which their images are put, has not changed. Women are depicted in a quite different way from men – not because the feminine is different from the masculine – but because the ‘ideal’ spectator is always assumed to be male and the image of the woman is designed to flatter him.” Berger, John, Ways of Seeing (British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin, United Kingdom: London, 1973), p. 64. 2 Tempat Mandi Di Pinggir Laut (Seaside Bathing Place) was exhibited from 11 to 23 December at Gedung Pakarti Centre in Tanah Abang, Jakarta, Indonesia. 3 A related issue that concerns an increasing number of observers and scholars of Indonesian art not proficient in the language is that much of the discourse around the controversy is conducted in Bahasa Indonesia. 4 From the written response of Fauzi Bowo to a request for interview by TEMPO Magazine in relation to the article, Lukisan Sudjojono Kembar (The Twin Paintings of Sudjojono). In addition, Fauzi Bowo recalls accompanying his father, Djohari bin Adiputro and mother to Sudjojono’s studio in Pasar Minggu, Jakarta, Indonesia and seeing the painting, Dunia Tanpa Pria, while it was still being completed by the artist.
Figure 1 S. Sudjojono Orang-orang Mengambil Air I (The Waterbearers I) 1965 21 x 31 cm Pencil on paper Collection of the S. Sudjojono Center
The Waterbearers by
Aminudin TH Siregar
S. Sudjojono is an important figure in Indonesia’s history of painting. Other than writing his thoughts on art and criticism in a number of essays, he has produced hundreds of paintings, several sculptures and monuments, has worked on reliefs, and even pottery. All of his work can be gathered according to periods such as: the Persagi period (Jakarta), the Japanese and pre-Proclamation period (Jakarta), Proclamation period (Madiun), Revolutionary era (Yogyakarta), Lekra period (Yogyakarta) and post-Lekra periods (after 1965, Jakarta) and The New Order period (Jakarta).1 His work may also be categorized according to stylistic tendencies, genres or according to the medium. He produced a large body of drawings and sketches although many are missing. The status of these sketches and drawings is very important; as it is where we can find not only authentic information about how a painting was planned, but also reveal the artist’s thinking processes. These sketches and drawings also represent a dimension of his life. Quite a few of Sudjojono’s propositions are implicitly embedded in the notes inscribed in sketches and drawings. We can also derive other things from his very unique handwriting; and from that we can also identify how he spoke and conveyed himself. In short and long notes, he sometimes mixed Indonesian and Dutch languages, often, featuring fiery aphorisms that were dense, energetic and metaphorical. They all contain information on mood, time, locations and other attributes. Thus, the presence of notes on almost all of Sudjojono’s paintings has become his style, contrasting him with other Indonesian painters. Sudjojono admitted that he wrote them to make sure his work was viewed and appreciated informatively. Working on sketches and drawings was a daily activity for him, of which he made many. Wherever he went, he always brought along a stack of paper. This habit was formed since his teens; he drew anything he saw: daily objects, scenery, human figures, animals, and plants. S. Sudjojono admited that he usually worked on at least two pastel drawings a day.
Among his thousands of sketches, Orang-orang Pengambil Air I (The Waterbearers I) (Fig. 1) is interesting as there is a degree of mystery related to the differences in years and titles between the sketch and the resulting painting. Many people do not take issue with this, but I think it is a serious historical problem. This is why I have suggested and pushed for further, specific, and patient study to evaluate this interesting problem. The sketch of Orang-orang Pengambil Air was worked on in 1965 on a 29 x 42 cm sized paper; it shows a plan for a painting. By employing a grid, Sudjojono divided the paper’s area into hundreds of squares. The writing “For Hotel Banteng” is clearly written on the bottom left of the sketch. The painting planned as a 200 x 500 cm in size, a fairly large picture. The sketch shows a scene from daily life – a crowd of figures of various ages and genders in various activities under trees. Sudjojono recorded a specific scene, perhaps at a rural, clear water spring. Inside a bamboo hut we see a young woman taking a bath. A small girl with ponytails is seen as staggering, carrying a large bamboo container with water in it. In Indonesia, an emptied bamboo trunk is often used as a substitute water container. Behind the girl, a dog is seen pacing a boy who seems to be guarding a line of empty cans. Meanwhile, from a clump of tree roots we see emerging a small shoot of bamboo. From its sharp edge, water is flowing swiftly. Between them an old lady, while standing, is seen to carry a large bamboo trunk, patiently waiting in line. The focus of this sketch is on the line of figures placed around the water spring. However, Sudjojono presented two women and one man, placed in the middle of the drawn space, provoking attention. The women are carrying ceramic pitchers filled with water, ready to go. To the left of the sketch, we see three men lounging while waiting their turn, an elderly one puffing on his pipe. A man is seen standing behind a tree, watching a young woman carrying a large ceramic pitcher. Clouds are billowing in the distance. S. Sudjojono actually worked on two sketches for Orang-orang Pengambil Air. Both were examined in 1965 and were for a 200 x 500 cm painting. The second sketch is sparser without a grid; on it Sudjojono added information that if the painting for Hotel Banteng were to be finished, it would be placed in the hotel’s dining hall. There is a hidden, somewhat purposeful irony here by S. Sudjojono – imagine the hotel’s guests looking at a portrait of poverty, while they enjoy their meal. The placement of such a large painting in a dining hall would definitely catch attention, and it seems it was meticulously planned by S. Sudjojono. We can feel the intensity of his pencil strokes in the second sketch as much more subdued, and it is in a worse state compared to the first. In several parts, almost similar male and female shapes are carrying water. A woman taking a bath behind a bamboo hut; a dog; a boy, a line of cans, three men sitting; all found just like in the first sketch.
Figure 2 S. Sudjojono A New Dawn 1965 Oil on canvas 120 x 240 cm Private Collection
These sketches cannot instill deep impressions. As we know, a sketch as a plan for a picture, will only give us information about the painter’s working method and a sense of authenticity – if we use it to appraise and confirm a painting’s originality. What we see in these sketches and the resulting paintings are often far apart; but interestingly, in Sudjojono’s case, his sketches and paintings often never have significant differences. Let’s take a look at the painting.
S. Sudjojono’s painting titled A New Dawn, (120 x 240 cm) (Fig. 2), as stated along its top margin, was composed in 1956. When we compare the sketch Orang-orang Pengambil Air and A New Dawn, we see that in many aspects they are identical. There is a difficulty that cannot be dismissed, namely A New Dawn was created nine years before the sketch. Is it possible that the painting came first? A New Dawn was completed by S. Sudjojono when he was actively working as a constituent member representing the Indonesian Communist Party, after the 1955 elections. In her memoirs, Mia Bustam tells us that S. Sudjojono was not very productive in these times, often not finishing his paintings. Sudjojono often travelled between Jakarta-Yogyakarta to return to his family. Mia Bustam tells us that in those times, Sudjojono could only produce a few paintings: a portrait of his wife riding in a horse carriage, a self-portrait in green overalls, a white tiger bearing the title ‘Sri Shima’ (his seventh daughter’s name), and a nude painting of his wife. There were also two unfinished paintings which were left behind in Jakarta; they were a portrait of Nyonya Lie and a young woman looking at a Western movie poster. Although unfinished, this last painting and the nude were purchased by Oey Boen Po, a collector residing in Surabaya.2 It is worth noting that when at the start of his stint as a People’s Representative in Jakarta, S. Sudjojono stayed at a small men’s dormitory.3 It is important to keep in mind the meaning of a painting as it might originally have been intended. This is especially as when a picture is retitled or redesignated because of its changing provenance or ownership. The title A New Dawn definitely has a different meaning when compared to the sketch titled Orang-orang Pengambil Air. If the first puts forward a more poetic aspect, the second represents Sudjojono’s commitment to his society’s social realities. S. Sudjojono shows his superiority here as a painter, as the Father Of Indonesian Modern Painting. He is skillful in choosing angles and content for his paintings. This skill is not without cause – it can only be executed by a painter who has a lot of experience. Interestingly, S. Sudjojono’s spotlight on social issues did not wither over time. To this day, we can see that a crisis of water still pervades most of the Indonesia’s peoples.
S. Sudjojonoâ€™s spotlight on social issues did not wither over time. The implicit inconsistencies between what was drawn and the title, added with authentic facts when looking at the two sketches, are enough to bring us to certain conclusions for A New Dawn. Other than the differences in the year, size in the resulting painting, we can see several striking differences between the two sketches and A New Dawn. Generally, the two sketches show how smoothly S. Sudjojono strokes his lines to create atmosphere, compared to the stiff figures in his painting which tend to not speak to each other. Observe the man without a shirt on the right of the sketch, seen talking with another in front of him. In the painting, this man seems to just stand there. Also observe the old man with his pipe, who then became a young man with a cigarette in his fingers. The young girl carrying the bamboo container has changed direction; in the sketches she has her back to the viewer, but in the painting she is seen from the side. And if we look even closer, we will discover even more significant differences.
Aminudin TH Siregar is an independent curator and Director of Galeri Soemardja at the Bandung Institute of Art (ITB) Fine Art Department. He is also a practicing artist and has exhibited widely in Indonesia as well as overseas, namely in Germany and Japan.
1 An effective periodisation may be registered on the basis of his two marriages. For instance: Mia Bustam period (1943-1959) and Rose Pandawangi period (1959-1986). 2 Further reading can be found in Mia Bustam, Sudjojono dan Aku, (Jakarta: Pustaka Utan Kayu, 2006), p. 394. 3 Mia Bustam, ibid., p. 245.
Figure 1 S. Sudjojono Kebun di Pacet (Garden in Pacet) 1985 Oil on canvas 69 x 89.5 cm Private Collection, Singapore
Kebun di Pacet (Garden in Pacet) by
Syed Muhd Hafiz
Pacet is located in a hilly area, one hour away from Surabaya. Popular with both the locals and tourists, the surrounding resorts in the area provide respite to citydwellers with breath-taking views of the ‘twin volcanoes’ Arjuno and Welirang on offer. In this painting, we are presented with a garden scene, located within one of the abovementioned resorts. Done in Sudjojono’s typical expressive style, one can sense a particular urgency in his brushstrokes – the uneven white swirls of the clouds for example - perhaps in an attempt to capture the passing moments of what looks like a perfect day for a family picnic. Sudjojono’s series of landscapes depicting the natural environments of Indonesia came mostly during the latter half of his artistic practice. Labelled as the ‘Father of Indonesian Modern Art’, Sudjojono became prominent for his tirades at the Mooi Indië school of artists for favouring the romanticised imageries of Indonesia. Accusing them as ‘touristic’ and pandering to the aesthetic tastes of colonial society, Sudjojono criticised the prevailing Mooi Indië works as lacking in ‘soul’ and far from depicting the realities of Indonesian society. If we look at the works of artists included in Sudjojono’s tirades - Ernest Dezentje, Wakidi and Basoeki Abdullah, just to name a few – we can see their almost-perfect execution of the Indonesian landscapes. Although they are technically sound and pleasing to the eye, they mask the harsh realities of colonialism that lasted till the early part of the twentieth century and the ensuing struggles for independence.
Accusing them as ‘touristic’ and pandering to the aesthetic tastes of colonial society, Sudjojono criticised the prevailing Mooi Indië works as lacking in ‘soul’ and far from depicting the realities of Indonesian society.
In contrast to the Mooi Indië style of painting, Kebun di Pacet (Fig.1) offers no panoramic view and we are kept guessing as to why this view was chosen by the artist. A brown rooftop seems to peek out of the foreground, obscured by the ubiquitous trees. This unorthodox view of a potentially picturesque composition might baffle the art student in us; however, this penchant for the unorthodox was apparent in Sudjojono since young. While he was still a student under the tutelage of the wellknown artist, Mas Pirngadie, his class was asked by the latter to paint something to show the rest. When it came to Sudjojono’s turn, he showed his painting – a picture of his tattered football boots. Needless to say Pirngadie, who was a renowned landscape and Realist artist, was baffled! 1
This unorthodox view of a potentially picturesque composition might baffle the art student in us; however, this penchant for the unorthodox was apparent in Sudjojono since young.
The young Sudjojono who was still trying to find his feet even asked his mentor and adopted father, Yudhokusumo why his paintings tend to be ‘dirty’. He replied, “What do you mean by dirty? That’s the strange thing about art. Even what you think is dirty might turn out to be good.”2 Encouraged by those words, the budding artist went on and continued to paint, to Indonesia’s gain, one might add. Thus one can see, even in the landscapes of Sudjojono, his quest for the ‘truth’ or ‘visble soul’ (Jiwa Ketok)(Fig.2) comes forth strongly. His deft brushstrokes and palette enliven the otherwise, unassuming location. Executed a year before his death in 1986, the painting shows a master at work and at the peak of his prowess. Kebun di Pacet is Sudjojono’s Indonesia, stripped down and unapologetic.
1 Rosidi, Ajip, Pelukis S.Sudjojono: Biografi untuk Anak-Anak (Jakarta: PT Dunia Pustaka Jaya, 1982), p. 14. 2 Ibid.
Figure 2 S. Sudjojono painting outdoors, looked on by some curious children. Image courtesy of the S. Sudjojono Center
Figure 1 S. Sudjojono Garapan Pagi (Morning Labour) 1967 Oil on canvas 80 x 118 cm Private Collection, Singapore
Garapan Pagi (Morning Labour) by
Oftentimes, when one comes across an Indonesian landscape painting, one is able to identify it simply by a few characteristic features. Dense tropical forests, with their impenetrable canopy of green, giving way to panoramic expanses of sawah cultivation. Unfailingly in the background stands a mountain, be it the Balinese Gunung Agung or one of the hundreds of mystical mountains of local significance found across the breadth of Java. The significance of the mountain in art cannot be understated. Twentieh century art history cannot comprehend its roots without Paul Cézanne’s numerous paintings of Mont Sainte-Victoire (Fig. 2). In the same vein, it is almost impossible for us to begin visualising an Indonesian landscape without the ubiquitous and quintessential mountain form.
The aura of the mountain tied generations of Indonesian artists from Raden Saleh to Ahmad Sadali across periods and style. How do we begin to comprehend the unique character of each of the artists who has inevitably painted the mountain? Lionised by critics as one of the most significant pioneer artists in modern Indonesian art for his rejection of the Mooi Indië (Beautiful Indies) romantic style of depicting the Indonesian landscape, it is easy to forget that a significant body of Sudjojono’s paintings revolves around the same subject of the native landscape that the Mooi
Indië artists visualised. Where Sudjojono is valourised, the romantic landscapes of Dutch artists such as Ernst Dezentjé, Leo Eland, Hal Wichers and even native artists like Abdullah Suriosubroto are given short shrift. That this is the case should come as no surprise. Particularly when it comes to landscape painting, the cultural, ethnic and stylistic orientations of an artist are central to how his or her work is interpreted and valued.
Particularly when it comes to landscape painting, the cultural, ethnic and stylistic orientations of an artist are central to how his or her work is interpreted and valued.
Born in 1913 in the era of national awakening throughout the Dutch East Indies colony in the early 20th century, Sudjojono earned the credentials and respect of the larger artistic community, having been involved along the peripheries of the national revolution that took place in the immediate aftermath of the Japanese occupation between 1942 and 1945. In his life and works, he embodied the zeitgeist of the new found freedom from colonial shackles, and was subsequently held in high esteem during the Sukarno era. The impression that the Indonesian artistic community formed of Sudjojono in these early decades continues to define him in his later years. From the 1960s onwards, Sudjojono painted landscapes such as Garapan Pagi (Morning Labour) (Fig. 1) with greater frequency. They perpetuate a collective idealisation of the arable land. Not merely celebratory and certainly not tainted with romance, Sudjojono’s landscapes have been cast as assertions of his pride in the nation. They are unadulterated depictions of the fecund earth and reminders of the inextricable bond between the nation, its people and the land. When Garapan Pagi was painted in 1967, the memories of the 1965-66 violent transition to a new era in domestic politics were still fresh in the collective consciousness of the nation. In these uncertain climes of social and political upheavals, what united several factions was their shared reliance on the land, their common dependence on it for sustenance. The land as a nativist claim proved to be the rallying point for struggles amongst the factions and marked for them the nation’s essence. Standing out amongst his contemporaries, Sudjojono produced a sizable body of landscape paintings: many of them are Jakarta cityscapes. A great number feature rural areas, outside of Jakarta as well as in Central Java. In his book, The History of Java, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles noted how the soil of Java was the ‘grand source of its wealth’ 1 , thus underlining the centrality of agriculture in Javanese society.
Along with his other landscape paintings, Garapan Pagi presents an idealised reality of the natural order of life revolving around agriculture in Java; labour is worthy and noble as long as it is given over to the continuous cultivation of the land. In Garapan Pagi, hills rise in the background, forming a dramatic backdrop to the wide and flat farmland in the middleground. The hills are classic Sudjojono motifs, their peaks marking the central axes of the paintings, lending a sense of solidity and orderliness to the painted landscapes. The fecundity of the land is conveyed through the flooded paddy terraces that stretch across the breadth of the painting. In this plenteous scene, farmers are at work; not only harvesting, but also engaged in a generative relationship with the land, as evident in the bottom left of the painting. In this plot of earthly red farmland, a white water buffalo tills the land for the next phase of paddy farming. Garapan Pagi celebrates the continuation of the agrarian cycle which sustains life. In this picture of pastoral abundance, Sudjojono’s talent lies in distilling and articulating the essential elements of a typical Indonesian landscape painting. In expressing the collective idealisation of the land in pictures such as Garapan Pagi, Sudjojono single-handedly defined the importance of landscape paintings in 20th century Indonesian art.
In expressing the collective idealisation of the land in pictures such as Garapan Pagi, Sudjojono single-handedly defined the importance of landscape paintings in 20th century Indonesian art. In contrast to how Sudjojono’s landscapes are received, the landscapes of the Mooi Indië artists are perceived as part of a bygone colonial vision and legacy. Many of these artists were members of Bataviasche Kunstkring, the art association in colonial Jakarta which only admitted artists of European descent and connected them to the upper echelons of Dutch colonial society. Amongst the works of these artists are Eland’s always achingly beautiful and serene Indonesian landscapes that stood out as idealised images of a model colony (Fig. 3). 2 On the other hand, Sudjojono’s works, supported by his theories and his consciousness of a rising tide of nationalism, sought to break away from the conservative and parochial tastes of a small but powerful colonial elite at a time when it became opportune to do so.
Figure 2 Paul Cézanne Mont Sainte-Victorie Painted circa 1887 Oil on canvas 67 x 92 cm
Leo Eland Harvest time, Java Oil on canvas 68 x 97 cm © Christie’s Images Limited, 2008
Figure 4 Jacob van Ruisdael View of Haarlem Painted circa 1670 Oil on canvas 43 x 38 cm
Even so, this did not mean that Sudjojono resisted all of the long and varied traditions of Dutch painting. In Garapan Pagi, the evocation of an atmosphere of morning agrarian labour harks back to paintings by Dutch artists, especially Jacob van Ruisdael (c. 1629-1682). The works of van Ruisdael typically featured a low horizon, painted from ground level up, with billowing white clouds cast dramatically against the light blue of the sky, and figures appearing only as minor elements within compositions exploring and celebrating an idealised landscape (Fig. 4). Sudjojono’s landscape paintings are alike in spirit and composition with their carefully chosen tones evoking a real sense of atmosphere, encouraging us to question the pictorial traditions underpinning 20th century Indonesian landscape painting.
Wang Zineng is a specialist for Southeast Asian art at Christie’s. He has previously managed the collection of the National Art Gallery, Singapore and worked as an independent curator. In 2008, he curated Strategies Towards the Real: S. Sudjojono and Contemporary Indonesian Art at NUS Museum, Singapore.
1 Raffles, Sir Thomas Stamford, The History of Java: Volume 1, (London: John Murray, 1830), p. 117. 2 Leo Eland’s Indonesian landscapes gained much fame through the 1930s, and were central to the creation of the category of Mooi Indië paintings having been presented at the Paris Colonial Exposition in 1931 and various international exhibition in the United States and Europe. The bulk of Eland’s Indonesian landscapes were in fact executed and completed in his studio in The Hague in the 1930s, inspired by a brief period in the late 1920s when he travelled in the Dutch East Indies.
Seng Yu Jin
The artwork is nothing more than his visible soul. Art is the visible soul. Art is about the visible soul. This is the law of nature that only a great soul manages to create great artworks. Similarly, a lesser soul will only manage to create lesser works. S. Sudjojono 1 60
S. Sudjojono famously proclaimed that art is about the visible soul and that artists need greatness to manifest and embody this soul, visibly in artworks. He goes on to explain “visible soul” by declaring emphatically that all artists should be soulful nationalists to make visible the real social, political and economic conditions of their time. For Sudjojono, “this is our reality… Realist paintings do not seek aesthetics as in ancient times… fine art comes from our everyday life, from an artist’s experiences, and does not depart from the realities of everyday life”. 2 The soul of an artist, which is the well spring for the soul of an artwork, stems from the artist’s life experiences which in turn are depicted as truths arising from real empathy and a sense of justice for those who are disadvantaged and oppressed.3 The visible soul is the moral compass of the artist who “shall protest against injustice and be willing to scream out the pain of men, of the nation, and the country, by using his artistic tools, because the pain has no harmony and is not appropriate, and is therefore contrary to his love for truth”. 4
The soul of an artist, which is the well spring for the soul of an artwork, stems from the artist’s life experiences which in turn are depicted as truths arising from real empathy and a sense of justice for those who are disadvantaged and oppressed.
Figure 1 S. Sudjojono Self â€“Portrait 1970 Oil on canvas 73 x 62 cm Collection Family of Paul Lau Tsz Pan
S. Sudjojono Selfâ€“Portrait (Teori Kita Benar) 1970 Oil on canvas 73 x 62 cm
Figure 2 (Detail of Selfâ€“Portrait)
Revealing the Visible Soul: The Importance of Self Portraiture for Sudjojono In light of these assertions, how do we appraise self portraits that he painted throughout his life? This substantial body of self portraits has not received the attention it deserves by scholars when unpacking his philosophical and critical positions on life and art, which he believed spring from everyday life.5 Besides self portraits, he has also inserted his images of the self into pictures of mythical, fantastical and even imagined historical scenes, which may be regarded as intimately linked to self portraits. Janur Kuning (1983), Me and Three Venuses (1974), Seniman Berkaca (1983), and Di Dalam Gua (Kenangan Revolusi, 1983), are examples of pictures in which he inserts his imagined images of the self to reveal his statements on his personal life, history and his views on society that a great soul like Sudjojono is expected to disclose. Laura Cummings regards self portraits as works that “always offer a special class of inner truth, a pressure from within that determines what appears without, how an artist chooses to picture himself both in and as a work of art”.6 If the self portrait embodies and manifests an inner truth, Sudjojono’s self portraits must exemplify his visible soul, thereby warranting closer scrutiny as a genre revealing the greatness of his soul at different moments in his life. Read in this way, the life of Sudjojono’s Self–Portrait (Fig. 1) offers an entry point into Sudjojono’s own multifaceted life, and exemplifies his visible soul when it is seen in relation to other self portraits.7
If the self portrait embodies and manifests an inner truth, Sudjojono’s self portraits must exemplify his visible soul, thereby warranting closer scrutiny as a genre revealing the greatness of his soul at different moments in his life. The Status of the Artist as Intellectual Born in Kisaran, North Sumatra, on December 14, 1913, Sudjojono was a charismatic person, who was fluent in Dutch, English and Bahasa Indonesia. He produced essays on art initially published in exhibition pamphlets and essays in the late 1930s and 1940s; they were subsequently compiled into two volumes: Seni Loekis, Kesenian dan Seniman (Fine Art, Art and the Artist) and Kami Tahu Kemana Seni Loekis Indonesia Akan Kami Bawa (We Know Where We are Taking Indonesian Art). This invaluable body of writings has been canonized and frequently cited by writers due to his firm and clearly articulated views on the direction of modern art in Indonesia oriented towards the depiction of everyday realities and pressed into the service of nationalism. In these respects, Sudjojono was exceptional among his contemporaries
Figure 3 S. Sudjojono Maka Lahirlah Angkatan â€™66 (And So was Born the â€™66 Generation)
1966 Oil on canvas 98 x 84 cm
Figure 4 Sudjojono in his studio at Pasar Minggu Image Courtesy of the S. Sudjojono Center
and peers, firmly consolidating his position as a leading intellectual in colonial and post colonial Indonesia.
In these respects, Sudjojono was exceptional among his contemporaries and peers, firmly consolidating his position as a leading intellectual in colonial and post colonial Indonesia. Sudjojono’s role in co-founding Persatuan Ahli Ganbar Indonesia (PERSAGI) in 1937 was to cast him as one of Indonesia’s leading nationalist intellectuals of his time. He was the architect of PERSAGI, advancing a belief that art and the historical process leading towards forging national cultural identity were inseparably linked and were to be manifested in the works of artists. He criticized artists of the Mooi Indië, a term coined by him, who were accused of simply copying what they saw without revealing their inner being, of selling their paintings of picturesque Indonesia largely in the tourist market. Self–Portrait was painted in 1970. It depicts a mature-looking Sudjojono dressed in a Western suit and shirt. He had by this time shifted away from his earlier position as a left-leaning politician. He is depicted confidently as an established artist symbolising Indonesia’s modernity and progress. Sudjojono’s political leanings towards the left could have been initiated when he was in Singapore in 1936 where he met fellow Indonesians living here, fleeing from failed communist coups in Indonesia between 1926 and 1927.8 His Marxist leanings continued and culminated when he was elected as a member of the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat (House of Representatives) under the auspices of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in 1955. Self–Portrait signaled the coming of age of an artist who is established and to be respected by the political and economic elites in Indonesia. He has moved on from his younger days as an idealistic revolutionary as seen in his earlier self portrait, Teori Kita Benar (Fig. 2) painted in 1959. The date is significant for Sudjojono; in that year he divorced Mia Bustam to marry Rose Pandanwangi, a seriosa singer.9 The youthful and confident Sudjojono, seen smoking a cigarette, is set within what appears to be a landscape in the background. It reveals a person who is quietly confident although he is at a crossroads because he had to leave the PKI due to the party’s objections to his divorce and to him marrying Rose. The clarity of his facial features contrasts with the impressionistic rendering of the rest of the picture, as if presenting himself as an unfinished self portrait, as a person who is always a work-in-progress, a person at a crossroads of change in his life.
Self–Portrait signaled the coming of age of an artist who is established and to be respected by the political and economic elites in Indonesia. Teori Kita Benar was bought by a close friend and patron of Sudjojono, Dr Nie Swan Tie who had also commissioned the artist to paint several pictures. This self portrait conveys a personal message and significance binding Dr Nie and Sudjojono; as the text on the right shoulder of Sudjojono in the picture reads: “Friend do not despair. Our theory is right” (Fig. 2). The text at the bottom is difficult to decipher; but it appears to address Dr Nie directly, and commenting on social and political changes under President Sukarno, and ending with the artist thanking Dr Nie for his support and praising Rose as a person full of life.10 Self–Portrait sheds light on another painting titled, Maka Lahirlah Angkatan ’66 (Hence was Borne the 1966 Generation) (Fig. 3) painted in 1966, which continues to appeal to the imagination of contemporary artists today.11 In Maka Lahirlah Angkatan ’66, the graffiti text on the right billboard expresses the dissatisfaction of Indonesian youth against the PKI and Sukarno. The text on the lower right of the picture reads: 66
With all his mean, with all his might, this young conveyor of the people’s voice says “In the name of Ampera”12 Ampera is an acronym of Amanat Penderitaan Rakyat (The aspiration of the people’s suffering); it casts the youth of Indonesia as empathetic to the sufferings of common Indonesians and embodying the nation’s future. Self–Portrait reveals Sudjojono’s disagreement with Sukarno’s direction, indicating that the theory that Dr Nie and he shared was right. What this theory is remains unclear because the paint is sketchily represented and is seen as blending into the background. Further research using appropriate technology could render it legible thereby throwing light on the theory. Sudjojono the Family Man Self–Portrait marks a difficult period in Sudjojono’s life when he struggled to provide for both families that of his former wife Mia Bustam and their children and Rose Pandanwangi with whom he had four children. His children with Mia Bustam lived with him in Pasar Minggu, as their mother was imprisoned (she was released in 1977). Sudjojono began to teach at Pasar Minggu; in here too he proudly displayed his artworks, hanging them on the walls of his studio where he received
Figure 5 S. Sudjojono Siip Dalam Segala Cuaca (Fit Under Any Kind of Conditions) 1980 Oil on canvas 90 x 70cm
Figure 6 S. Sudjojono Si Optimist (The Optimist) 1982 Oil on canvas 89 x 69 cm
guests and taught his students. It is in Pasar Minggu that Self–Portrait is seen hanging prominently together with portraits of his family. The cold demeanour in Self–Portrait does not disclose a father and husband who was extremely close to his family. His new family with Rose became the centre of his life; it was hard due to tight financial circumstances. Pasar Minggu served as a house, a studio, a gallery as well as a classroom.
Rose was catalyst for change in Sudjojono, now that he had retired from politics with the PKI, and from his intellectual activism.
His family became his spiritual centre. No painting by Sudjojono shows this more than his self portrait titled Siip Dalam Segela Cuaca (Fit Under Any Kind of Conditions) (Fig. 5). Sudjojono is depicted multitasking as he rides a bicycle with his left hand holding an umbrella, his right hand picking up cigarette butts while he balances himself; he is in an imagined world appearing with a bottle on his head. This imagined world comprises of a female figure symbolizing Rose, who is his queen: an ayam (‘chicken’ in Bahasa Indonesia), which represents Maya, as ‘ayam’ is his daughter’s name spelt backwards. The factory with smoke emitting from its chimney stack represents industry, symbolizing economic and financial needs to achieve balance in his world.13 The text at the top right corner of the picture reads as follows (in translation): Ah so beautiful is my country! Clear skies, blue seas, Collecting cigarette butts while smoking, On top of my bottle people are happy, Who is able to handle this? Only me! No problem in any kind of weather. 14 The text reads like a poem celebrating the resilience of Indonesians and himself as embodiment of Indonesia, of a father and husband, all rolled into one. He locks horns with the pressures of providing for his family while constantly trying to create happiness for those who matter to him, including his country. Sudjojono’s unending optimism remains his strength as seen in Si Optimis (Fig. 6). On his right hand he holds a rose and his painting brushes, acknowledging his wife as the source of his creativity. He poses as a martial arts exponent, choreographing his way out of any difficult situation. The six figures hovering in circular forms around him are likely to be members of his family, giving him protection and strength to face whatever life throws at him. They are his motivation and passion in life.
Sudjojono’s self portraits reveal his visible soul. It is through his self portraits that he made himself real, however momentarily to himself, or rather to be just himself in a world where we are often pressured to fit into the expectations of others. They manifest inner truth and deserve our consummate attention.
Seng Yu Jin teaches art history at the LASALLE College of the Arts. He is a curator and researcher on modern and contemporary art in Southeast Asia, focusing on the history of exhibitions, artist collectives and curation.
1 S. Sudjojono, “Kesenian, Seniman dan Masyarakat” in Seni Lukis, Kesenian Dan Seniman (Yayasan Aksara Indonesia, 1946), pp. 69-70. 2 S. Sudjojono, “Seni Lukis di Indonesia Sekarang dan yang akan Datang” in Seni Lukis, Kesenian Dan Seniman (Yayasan Aksara Indonesia, 2000), pp. 7-8. 3 Jim Supangkat uses the term sagacity to describe this form of social realism. Jim Supangkat, Legacy of Sagacity: The Case of Putu Sutawijaya (Jakarta: Galeri Canna, 2008), p. 94. 4 S. Sudjojono, “Seorang seniman dengan sendirinya harus nationalis” in Seni Lukis, Kesenian Dan Seniman (Yayasan Aksara Indonesia, 2000), pp. 7-8. 5 Sudjojono has done approximately 10 to 15 self portraits in his life. 6 Laura Cummings, A Face to the World: On Self Portraits (New York: Harper Press, 2009). 7 Only a handful of artists such as Affandi have made their self portraits the cornerstone from which art historians regard as critical in understanding the artist’s concept, psychological depth and practice. It is art historians’ unusual interest in Affandi’s self portraits that reveals the real problem behind the discipline’s nonchalance towards self portraits as embodiments of humanity, a fragment of someone’s self that is complex, even mysterious. Widely regarded as a humanist, Affandi stands as an exception to art history’s overlooking of self portraits as a subject worthy of study without it being a handmaiden to something else. 8 Antariksa proposed the possibility of Sudjojono having met Indonesians who were communists in 1936 in Singapore. Please refer to Antariksa, “Between Revolutionary Stronghold and Laboratory of the West: Political Positions in Indonesian Fine Arts in the 50s”, in Contemporaneity: Contemporary Art in Indonesia (Shanghai: Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, 2010), p. 61. 9 Rose Pandanwangi was previously known as Rosalina Wilhelmina Poppeck. She changed her name to Pandanwangi, which was a name given to her by Sudjojono. 10 Translation of texts by Santy Saptari who saw the painting personally in the collection of Dr Nie Swan Tie in an email dated 17/08/2013. 11 For instance, Agus Suwage painted Maka Lahirlah Angkatan ’90-an in 2001 that appropriates and reinterprets Maka Lahirlah Angkatan ’66 (Hence was Borne the 1966 Generation). 12 Text translated in Amir Siddharta, S. Sudjojono: Visible Soul (Jakarta: Museum S. Sudjojono, 2006), p. 91. 13 Translation of the script was taken from Amir Sidharta, S. Sudjojono: Visible Soul (Jakarta: Museum S. Sudjojono, 2006), p. 109. 14 Translation of the script was taken from Amir Sidharta, S. Sudjojono: Visible Soul (Jakarta: Museum S. Sudjojono, 2006), p. 109.
Figure 1 S. Sudjojono Taman Djoko Dolok (Djoko Dolok Park) 1972 Oil on canvas 93 x 71.5 cm Collection of Wee Woon Gek
Taman Djoko Dolok (Djoko Dolok Park) by
Syed Muhd Hafiz
In this painting we are confronted with a group of people casting their attention to what looks like a statue. Taman Djoko Dolok (Fig. 1) or Djoko Dolok Park is located in Central Surabaya. The park attracts pilgrims and tourists who burn incense and make offerings to a statue seated beneath a banyan tree, known as Djoko Dolok. Also translated as ‘Fat Boy’ or ‘Brother Fatso’, the statue is, “…associated with King Krtanagara, the last ruler of the Singasari Dynasty, who was considered responsible for the florescence of tantric Buddhism in Java at the end of the thirteenth century.” However upon closer observation of the painting, a few elements seem to suggest that Sudjojono was parodying the visitors to the shrine, perhaps making a statement on ‘religious tourism’. Firstly, almost all of the figures in the picture are exaggerated or caricatured, adding a whimsical and playful tone. One will also be able to see the figure on the left with his/ her dark shades on, representing the quintessential tourist. The vertical composition of the painting is also something to take note of as Sudjojono has arranged the statue to be at the apex of the ‘formulaic triangle’ which has been found in the composition of Western religious paintings. Looking at the various elements again, it is interesting to see faith (represented by the statue), money (represented by the tourist) and the masses (represented by the lady at bottom-right) forming the ‘formulaic triangle’. If the painting is a reflection of Sudjojono’s thoughts about religious tourism, it is worthwhile to further investigate his series of religious-themed paintings. Not much has been expounded on this topic, with the exception of a recent essay which sheds some light on his later works revolving around Christianity.
The statue Djoko Dolok is currently located at Taman Apsari in Surabaya, Indonesia
Born into a Javanese and Muslim family, he was officially baptized after his marriage to Rose Pandanwangi in 1959. The marriage made news because Sudjojono offered his resignation from PKI, the Communist Party in Indonesia, as his relationship with Rose caused some concern to his party elders. Sudjojono’s public image, both as a politician and well-known artist, took some beating after he chose to be with Rose. Divorce is also frowned upon in traditional Javanese society and his leaving the Muslim faith would have made news too in Indonesia, home to the biggest Muslim population in the world. If Taman Djoko Dolok is based on an aspect of Buddhist iconography and ‘religious tourism’, his later paintings revolved around Christian and Biblical themes like Yesus Di Salib Di Batu (Jesus at the Cross) (1972) and Give Us Our Daily Bread (1982), amongst others. Sudjojojno does not make any reference to his Muslim background in his earlier paintings; his belief in his new faith definitely becomes prominent after his marriage to Rose. An in-depth research into this aspect of Sudjojono’s life would definitely shed more light on his religious philosophy, and how it helped to shape the thinking of one of the most important artists in Indonesia’s modern art history.
Sudjojojno does not make any reference to his Muslim background in his earlier paintings; his belief in his new faith definitely becomes prominent after his marriage to Rose.
1 Reichle, Natasha, Violence and Serenity: Late Buddhist Sculpture from Indonesia, (Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 2007), p.24. 2 Santy Saptari, “A Personal Search for Truth: Sudjojono and Religious-themed Works (1960-1980s),” in Seabad S. Sudjojono, ed. S. Sudjojono Centre, (Jakarta: S. Sudjojono Centre and Galeri Canna, 2013), p. 259.
Mevrouw Senang Ketawa (The Lady Likes To Laugh) by
For an artist whose body of work is so intricately linked to the personal circumstances of his lifetime, it comes as no surprise that for Sudjojono painting is not merely an act of picture-making but a continuously effective outlet for inscribing thoughts, observations and feelings. In painting, Sudjojono the artist is oftentimes also Sudjojono the confessor, the thinker and the observer of society and its norms. Mevrouw Senang Ketawa (The Lady Likes to Laugh) (Fig. 1) is a picture which reveals the last of these roles that he often assumed when he painted. 74
In painting, Sudjojono the artist is oftentimes also Sudjojono the confessor, the thinker and the observer of society and its norms. The figure at the centre in the painting is simply Mevrouw, a Dutch word that is equivalent to the English term â€˜missusâ€™. In the artistâ€™s worldview, or at least in the state of mind he was in when he painted this picture, Mevrouw represents an inelegant type of lady in society, with her exaggeratedly thick make-up and showy accoutrement. In her company are two men of little distinction, their respective faces fixed by an identical toothy simper. Mevrouw herself is painted in thick swaths of paint, the result being a set of highly distorted, grotesque features. Her exaggeratedly arched eyebrows and glassy fixated eyes bestow on her an unfortunately stunned expression. Her lower chin protrudes grossly, revealing a set of large incisors as she lets out a braying laugh. Her thick lips -- painted in unmissable fire-engine red echoed by the dash of red to the side of her left eye and her left ear and earring are rather uncharacteristic of society ladies; but then the artist did not have any intentions of depicting the figure realistically in this painting. The ugly painted visage is commonly deployed to register the grotesque as a critical device. One recalls The Ugly Duchess, perhaps the best-known painting by Flemish 16th century artist Quentin Metsys, satirising an ugly lady seeking a
Figure 1 S. Sudjojono Mevrouw Senang Ketawa (The Lady Likes To Laugh) 1978 Oil on canvas 54 x 41 cm Collection of Wee Woon Gek
suitor willing to overlook her appearance (Fig. 1). Sudjojono’s Mevrouw extends the tradition of the grotesque, applied similarly as Metsys’ picture on the subject of a lady in society. Mevrouw Senang Ketawa is a caricature of society ladies and their affected mannerisms. Their cackling laughter belies superficial pretensions, falsity and hypocrisy that attend their gatherings.
Sudjojono’s Mevrouw extends the tradition of the grotesque Over the front of the dress in Mevrouw, Sudjojono has inscribed a lengthy text in Bahasa Indonesia.1 The translation of the text is as follows: “ The struggle for independence is a spiritual symptom. However, in practice, the people who are in the application of physical means are the ones that become leaders. At this moment in time, I paint this picture as a result of my observation. The time will change, and people will change. There will be a time when the sun that is Indonesia will shine brilliantly. The lady is happy. The nurse is happy too. Watching television.” 76
At first reading, Sudjojono’s observation of the nature of political ‘struggle for independence’ and his conviction of the change that will take place in the future seems to bear no relation to the subject depicted. Yet the artist’s text – the large part of which is barely legible being inscribed in white over an area of white – discloses itself as an allegory of the state of Indonesian politics. A previous collector of the painting who had owned the work between 2011 and 2012 related that he had asked a number of critics, collectors and art historians about the content of the painting. The most plausible reading he arrived at is that the protagonist, Mevrouw, represents the then-incumbent President of Indonesia, Suharto. Reading further along this line, he is being entertained and flattered, and seemingly enjoys the attention. With Suharto thus indulged in merriment, Sudjojono wonders aloud in his text if the affairs of the nation are then being handled with the moral responsibility expected of its leader. His underlings – the two figures in the background – simper along with their superior, without a sense of discrimination. To the collector, the painting is a veiled call for change: for the reassertion of morality and a new political order. The incorporation of text within painting is definably identifiable with Sudjojono, at least in the context of modern Indonesian art. How do we begin to appraise these texts? In paintings of Rose, such as Rose doing the Laundry (1960), and Wanita dan Alam (Woman and Nature) (1969), the artist’s inscriptions testify that he is a keen observer of daily domestic life and an admiring husband, creating a paean to the woman who is installed at the centre of his life and her role in raising their
family. In other pictures such as Sodom dan Gomorah (Sodom and Gomorrah) (1956), the artist’s inscription narrates inner turmoil and conflict. And in works like Sejuta Bintang Di Langit (One Million Stars In The Sky) and Mevrouw Senang Ketawa, texts represent forms of social and political commentary. For Sudjojono, inscribing his paintings with texts is to signify many things: at times, they document society, at other times they are cathartic. If Sudjojono’s 1946 publication titled Seni Loekis, Kesenian dan Seniman, is often referred to for setting the foundations for the nationalistic core of modern Indonesian art – and thus his most important piece of writing outside of texts in his paintings – it would be appropriate to ascribe the same importance and critical attention to texts within his paintings to come to a rounded understanding of how texts feature in his practice.
For Sudjojono, text in his painting signify many things: at times they document society and at other the times they are cathartic. Works by Sudjojono that are most critical of society were executed in the 1970s and the 1980s; they are claimed by critics as ‘representative of his stance and his satirical perception about the condition of the Indonesian society during the New Order era’2. The validity of such interpretations is undeniable; they may also be seen and valued as incisive, humorous portraits of society. Sudjojono revels in the role of a social critic, observing gestures, fashion and utterances of the world around him, at arm’s length. Ever the humanist, painting is for Sudjojono, a means for expressing moral and ethical positions. Mevrouw Senang Ketawa is, in this respect, one of the most memorable works in his oeuvre.
1 The text in Bahasa Indonesia reads “Perjuangan kemerdekaan adalah suatu gejala spiritual. Tetapi dalam prakteknya orang-orang yang terampil dalam pengterapan alat-alat fisikalah yang menjadi pemuka. Pada era jaman inilah saya buat lukisan ini sebagai hasil observasi saya. Jaman akan berubah, pun orangnya akan berubah Pada waktunya matahari Indonesia akan cemeriang bercahaya. Mevrouw seneng, ketawa. Nurse juga ketawa. Nonton Teve.” 2 Wardani, Farah, “High Level” in Seabad S. Sudjojono 1913-2013 (Jakarta: Seabad S. Sudjojono Center, 2013), p. 172.
Draw & Paint by
Some of the most intimate and revealing works of Sudjojono are his drawings and studies done on paper; however, they are rarely valued and studied in detail in comparison to his oil paintings. The nature of drawing as a medium is particularly suited to an artist such as Sudjojono who produces drawings to set down first thoughts for pictorial representations. For him, the drawing pen and paper are also akin to the shorthand for painting. More so than any other modern Indonesian artist, he has left behind a large body of drawings that may be primed for surveying and studying. 1
The nature of drawing as a medium is particularly suited to an artist such as Sudjojono who produces drawings to set down first thoughts for pictorial representations. For him, the drawing pen and paper are also akin to the shorthand for painting. Draw & Paint (Fig. 1) is a rare album of nineteen drawings, all dated to 1969, covering a wide spectrum of Sudjojonoâ€™s pictorial interests. By the time he started on this album, the turbulent days of the mid-1960s political transition in Indonesia had begun to subside. For artists, the retreat from political involvement meant also a waning of nationalist fervour in artistic discourse which prevailed in the preceding two decades. The polemical Sudjojono with his distinct persona as the pioneer and theoretician of modern Indonesian art of the 1940s and 1950s evolved. The late 1960s marked a quieter, almost quotidian, existence for the painter. Daily life revolved around the family with Rose Pandanwangi, after their marriage in 1959. This accounts for the subject matter in this album: domestic scenes, portraits of Rose, his children and friends and scenes of urban Jakarta.
Figure 1 S. Sudjojono Draw & Paint 1969 Album of 19 drawings watercolour and ink on paper 27 x 36.5 cm each Private Collection
This album of drawings has had a colourful life since it first came to the market in 2008. It was gifted to a Japanese friend of Sudjojono in Indonesia, who brought it to Tokyo, kept it with him for decades before deciding to offer it for auction in 2008. Christie’s Hong Kong was entrusted with the sale of the album. The expectation in the market was for this album to do very well at the auction, considering its outstanding quality, its rarity and the fact that it was the first ever suite of drawings by the artist to come to market. Yet, Indonesian collectors who were the expected bidders for the album have a reputation for disliking works on paper because of demands and challenges posed by conserving paper works in the tropics. So when the work came up at auction, the hammer knocked down quickly – and perhaps not surprisingly to a bid by a Singapore collector who has an abiding interest in books and works on paper. Each of the drawings cost an average price of about US$800, a price that no doubt pleased the new owner greatly!
This album of drawings has had a colourful life since it first came to the market in 2008.
Its price nonwithstanding, the new owner recognised the value of the album in Sudjojono’s oeuvre and began thinking about making it available via electronic means as an e-book and accessible to a larger audience. This intention was unrealised until the National Art Gallery, Singapore, became aware of the album and proposed digitizing it. Further discussions ensued and the collector eventually agreed to donate the album to the National Art Gallery, Singapore, after its public display in this present exhibition. When the curatorial team for the present exhibition began discussions on the exhibits list, Draw and Paint was unanimously agreed upon as one of the must-have exhibits. Sudjojono whimsically personalises the album with an arabesque design on its cover, masking images that are printed on it and leaving only the words Draw & Paint as legible. Amongst the domestic scenes is Tjitji pakaian (Washing clothes) (Fig. 2); it is an intimate view of Rose doing laundry observed by the artist out of his window, updated from his 1960 painting of the same subject. The subject matter is enhanced by Sudjojono’s recurring depiction of it, in oil and then on paper, revealing him as a man who has his family close to his heart. In two other paintings in the album, Rose sedang sakit (Rose is ill) (Fig. 3) and Rose sedang berlatih (Rose is practising) (Fig. 4), she is observed in contrasting states. In the first, she is ill and lying in bed. In another, she is sketched practising on the piano at home. The latter also revisits the subject of an earlier painting, Kisah Mawar (Story of Rose) (1960).
Figure 2 Tjutji pakaian (Washing clothes)
Figure 3 Rose sedang sakit (Rose is ill)
Figure 4 Rose sedang berlatih (Rose is practising)
The portraits in the Draw & Paint album are some of the most detailed and accomplished by Sudjojono. Meneer Tan (Mr Tan) (Fig. 5) stands out in particular. Derived from Dutch, Meneer is an Indonesian term referring to European and westernized men. Meneer Tan, an ethnic Chinese, assumes a debonair pose, a cigarette dangling from his elegant bony fingers. The text written in the drawing says that Sudjojono met Meneer Tan in a sanatorium in Tjisarua, about one hundred kilometres outside of Jakarta where Meneer Tan was recovering from illness. One of Sudjojono’s children had been admitted to the very same sanatorium in 1966. Consequently, the painter and his family spent large amounts of time in Tjisarua. The portrait bears uncanny resemblances to Sudjojono: in many photographs and self-portraits, he is never seen without his pipe, smoking in quiet introspection. Tukang Kebun Taman Senopati (Gardener in Senopati Garden) (Fig. 6) captures a gardener in repose. Senopati is a predominantly residential area in central Jakarta. The artist’s reality, seen in his sketches and paintings, is the reality of the commonplace, the common man. The gardener is closely studied; his fingers, aged with labour, are splayed out on his knees, visible in detail. When seen alongside his paintings, Sudjojono’s drawings are characterised by an even greater sense of artlessness. This is particularly clear in Pemandangan dari mobil di Sarinah (View from my car of Sarinah), Pohon pepaya (The papaya tree), Kamar kerja, kamar tidur juga saja (My studio and bedroom) where Sudjojono frames each of his compositions within a naturalistic setting. From his seat within his car, the artist captures a construction scene in Sarinah in the centre of Jakarta in the late 1960s. The rear view mirror and the frame of the car are captured. Out of a window, presumably from his home, a papaya tree is depicted, cast gloriously against a soufflé of cloud. The window curtain and frame are worked into the drawing as convenient and naturalistic framing devices. In Kamar kerja, kamar tidur juga saja, Sudjojono lays bare his practice and his domain as an artist. It is evident that, oftentimes, when Rose is asleep, he would retreat into the solitude of his studio and work from midnight to dawn, catching some sleep in his studio and bedroom. One sees a simple but comfortable painter’s studio, filled with basic amenities such as a table fan and a television set. In the picture, a foot peers from beneath the blanket on the bed, presenting to the viewer an extremely private view of the artist’s studio.
When seen alongside his paintings, Sudjojono’s drawings are characterised by an even greater sense of artlessness.
Meneer Tan (Mr. Tan)
Figure 6 Tukang kebun Taman Senopati (Gardener in Senopati Garden)
In many of the drawings in the album, Sudjojono’s catatan (textual inscription and notes) is diaristic and voluminous. This single aspect sets him apart from his contemporaries. These texts reveal the nature of his observation – unobstrusive and in the background – and the essence of his thoughts which are largely centred on the daily realities of life, as a husband, father and an artist in Jakarta.
In many of the drawings in the album, Sudjojono’s catatan (textual inscription and notes) is diaristic and voluminous. Draw & Paint goes beyond being just a document of the personal lives and times of Sudjojono. The year 1959, the year he married Rose Pandanwangi, marks a distinct turn in Sudjojono’s life and in his art, a turn towards embodying the personal and, if we daresay, the quotidian. Draw & Paint stands out as a suite of pictures perfectly signifying these dimensions of his life.
1 Aminuddin TH Siregar is the first critic and historian to have surveyed the breadth of Sudjojono’s works on paper in the exhibition and book, Sang Ahli Gambar: Sketsa, Gambar & Pemikiran S.Sudjojono published in 2010. In his survey, he concludes that Sudjojono’s worldview is most evidently seen first and foremost in his drawings. The majority of known drawings are in the collection of S. Sujojono Center. The nineteen drawings in Draw & Paint form, in all probability, the single largest collection of drawings outside of the Center’s collection.
Abang Rahina 1956 - 1983 Embroidery on fabric 100 x 77 cm Collection of Abang Rahino *Designed by S. Sudjojono, embroidered by Mia Bustam
Abang Rahina by
Seng Yu Jin
Few artworks embody the complexity of emotions arising from human relationships. Abang Rahina is one such production borne out of the relationship between Mia Bustam and S. Sudjojono celebrating the birth of their eighth child, who was later named Abang Rahina, and known as Abang Rahino. 1 This is a collaborative work and the only one involving the two of them, who were husband and wife until 1959 when they were divorced. Abang Rahina was designed by Sudjojono; Mia Bustam worked on embroidering his design (Fig. 1).
This is a collaborative work and the only one involving the two of them, who were husband and wife until 1959 when they were divorced The life of Abang Rahina began even before Abang Rahino was born. Sudjojonoâ€™s design of this work depicts all of their eight children with the imagined Abang Rahino at the centre as a boy who appears as if he is over four years old, seated with his back facing the viewer. When Sudjojono completed the design in 1956, Mia Bustam started to work on embroidering it, but completed it only in 1984. The life of Abang Rahina took a tumultuous turn when Sudjojono had to leave for Jakarta due to his work as a party representative of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), leaving little time for his family and Mia Bustam in Yogyakarta. He found life as a politician challenging; a new romance was also starting up with Rosalina (Rose) Wilhelmina Poppeck in Jakarta. It was amidst these intersecting currents in his life entailing that of a politician and a budding romance with Rose that in turn gave rise to a rift with Mia Bustam, that Abang Rahina was designed. The aspirations and hope of Sudjojono rested on his youngest son, Abang Rahino, who was expected to carry on his ideological vision for a â€˜red dawnâ€™ in Indonesia. The figure on the right with a walking stick is his father, Sindudarmo, who was a founding member of the Communist Party of Indonesia, which was established on 23rd May 1920.2 The red clouds above the mountains and more specifically above
Sindudarmo suggest the artist’s desire for Abang Rahino to follow his footsteps, fulfilling the aspirations of Sindudarmo for a communist Indonesia; hence a new red dawn.3 The mountains or gunung symbolise the nation in accordance with Javanese beliefs wherein the mountain is the cosmological centre in which the spirits dwell. The dove on the left symbolizes the coming peace after Indonesia has become a communist country.
The aspirations and hope of Sudjojono rested on his youngest son, Abang Rahino, who was expected to carry on his ideological vision for a ‘red dawn’ in Indonesia.
The life of Abang Rahina mirrors the life of Sudjojono in the prime of his career as a politician and intellectual leader of Indonesian artists who had dedicated their art to the nation-building efforts after independence in 1949. The influence of the Indonesian communists was formidable; by 1956 Sukarno, the President, veered increasingly towards the Left. The red dawn appears as a dream that was materializing in Indonesia and Mia Bustam, who was a member of Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat (LEKRA), the cultural organization of the communists, would have shared Sudjojono’s aspirations for their new born son. Abang Rahina can be considered as a tapestry, a form of fabric art prized for its portability by aristocrats in Europe for decorative purposes, and also for symbolising authority; as the coat of arms of a family was frequently woven as tapestry. The decision to make such a tapestry for Abang Rahino demonstrated the closeness of the family as a potent force for bringing about political and social changes in Indonesia. Abang Rahino, located at the centre of this picture, appears larger than the rest of his siblings, suggesting the high hopes that the couple had for their newly born son (Fig. 2). The disproportionately large size of Abang Rahino contrasts with that of Tedjabayu, the eldest son, who is perched on top of a tortoise that the family kept as a pet. He is depicted urinating on the tortoise as he was a mischievous child.4
The decision to make such a tapestry for Abang Rahino demonstrated the closeness of the family as a potent force for bringing about political and social changes in Indonesia. Abang Rahina was not completed as its life took an untoward turn when Sudjojono and Mia Bustam divorced in 1959. The psychological trauma of the separation was
further exacerbated by Mia Bustam’s imprisonment, from 1965 to 1977, for being a member of Lembaga Kebudajaan Rakjat (LEKRA, meaning ‘people’s culture’). This was a difficult period for the children of Mia Bustam who virtually lost their mother who was incarcerated. They moved from Yogyakarta in order to live with Sudjojono and Rose Pandanwangi’s family at Pasar Minggu in the south of Jakarta. Upon her release from prison, Mia Bustam completed Abang Rahina around 1984, two years before Sudjojono died. Sudjojono never lived to see this collaborative work, which had a poem by Khalil Gibran, a Lebanese poet and writer, embroidered on it.5 The inclusion of Gibran’s poem titled, On Children represents a twist to the life of Abang Rahina because it was not in the original design by Sudjojono.6 Mia Bustam included this poem as she completed the work, intending it as a message to her eight children, to say that they belonged to God, and not to their parents, and that parents are the bow from which children, like arrows, spring from. The years in prison meant that Mia Bustam was absent during the growing years of her children, who were estranged from their father, for most of their lives. This work may be seen as exemplifying parental bonds; children envisioned as arrows seeking their own respective directions and objectives in life.
Mia Bustam included this poem as she completed the work, intending it as a message to her eight children, to say that they belonged to God, and not to their parents, and that parents are the bow from which children, like arrows, spring from.
1 ‘Rahina’ is a Javanese word pronounced as ‘Rahino’; however as a name it was officially registered as ‘Abang Rahina’, due to an error during registration. The eighth son of Sudjojono and Mia Bustam has since used ‘Abang Rahino’ as a change to a given name would be administratively difficult in Indonesia. Interview with Abang Rahino, 3 December 2013, Yogyakarta. 2 Interview with Abang Rahino on 3 December 2013, Yogyakarta. He revealed that Tedjabayu, his eldest brother revealed this information about Sindudarmo to him. 3 Interview with Abang Rahino, 3rd December 2013, Yogyakarta. 4 Ibid. 5 Please refer to a translation of Khalil Gibran’s poem in English from the website: http://www.katsandogz.com/onchildren.html. 6 On Children is taken from Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet published in 1923 in English and translated into Bahasa Indonesia as it is inscribed in ‘Abang Rahina’ by Mia Bustam.
Photograph of Mia Bustam taken before she was incarcerated in 1965 for her involvement with Lambaga Kebudayaan Rakyat (LEKRA), a Left leaning cultural wing in Indonesia.
Figure 2 This photograph was taken at the Seniman Indonesia Muda (SIM) at 40 Jalan Pakuningratan in Yogyakarta in 1951. The figures from left to right are: Nasti, Wikidjan, Suromo, Sudjojono and Oesman Effendi. Images courtesy of the S. Sudjojono Center
On Children kahlil gibran
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Lifeâ€™s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archerâ€™s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
A young Sudjojono smoking a cigarette. Image courtesy of the S. Sudjojono Center
Artist’s Timeline by
lee qiu ling
The Making of An Artist 1913
Sindudarsono Sudjojono was born in Kisaran, North Sumatra. His parents, Sindudarmo and Marijem, were Javanese contract workers employed by the Deli plantation in Tebing Tinggi.
Sudjojono was sent to apprentice with the family of Marsudi Yudhokusumo at a young age. In 1925/26, Sudjojono moved to Batavia (now known as Jakarta) with the Yudhokusumo family. Between 1926 and 1928, Sudjojono studied at the Arjuna School, where he was given a 3-month sponsorship under the tutelage of Mas Pirngadie, a renowned Indonesian landscape painter.
1928 — 1931
Sudjojono wanted to study medicine upon graduating from the Arjuna School, but his family could not afford his education. With the help of Yudhokusumo, Sudjojono was given a scholarship by the Theosophical Society to study at the Gunung Sari Teachers’ College in Lembang, near Bandung, West Java. Here, Sudjojono was registered with the student identification number of SS 101, which later was inscribed as a trademark in his artworks and writings.
1935 — 1937
Sudjojono went on a 3-month painting expedition to Batavia with a Japanese painter Chiyoji Yazaki. Sudjojono set out for Paris to fulfil his dream as an artist. During his journey, he stopped by Singapore and took on a job at the Ceylon Art Studio when his money ran out. His experience working in the studio made him realise that he did not have to go to Paris to be an artist. He returned to Indonesia. Sudjojono submitted his work Kinderen met Kat (Children with Cat) for a competition organised by the Bataviasche Kunstkring (Art Circle of Batavia). It was awarded the first prize, affirming his talent as a painter. The recognition reinforced his determination to establish an art association to promote an Indonesian way of painting.
Clockwise: Di Depan Kelambu Terbuka (Before the Opened Mosquito Net), a painting by Sudjojono in the 1941 exhibition at the Kunstkring 1943 Members of PERSAGI (1940) Members of PERSAGI
Left to Right: A young Sudjojono standing next to his self-portrait. This photograph was featured in the magazine Djawa Baroe 1 May 1943 Edition. Opening of the Keimin Bunka Shidoso (Cultural Centre)
An ink painting of the SIM studio by Sudjojono
Mural for the Hall of the Kemayoran Airport, Jakarta
Images courtesy of the S. Sudjojono Center
The Birth of Indonesian Art 1937/38
Together with Yudhokusumo and Agus Djayasuminta, Sudjojono cofounded Persatuan Ahli Gambar Indonesia (PERSAGI or Union of Indonesian Painters), the first Indonesian artist association established to challenge the Mooi Indië (“Beautiful Indies”) style. Rejecting art which gave in to the demands of the commercial market, PERSAGI strove to create art which depicted truth and beauty and represented stories of the Indonesian nation.
Sudjojono met his first wife, Sasmiya “Mia” Sasmojo, later known as Mia Bustam. The couple was married for 15 years and had eight children. In the same year, the Japanese established the Keimin Bunka Shidhosho, a centre for the arts. Agus Djayasuminta became the chairman of the centre, with Sudjojono helming the position of deputy chairman.
Foray into Politics 1946
Together with Trisno Sumardjo, Sunindyo, Soedibio and Sedyono, Sudjojono founded Seniman Indonesia Muda (SIM or Young Indonesian Artists). Previously, Affandi had established Seniman Masyarakat (People’s Artists) which subsequently merged with SIM. Sudjojono published Seni Loekis, Kesenian, dan Seniman (Paintings, The Arts and The Artist), containing his writings on art, philosophy and politics. It is regarded as an important text in Indonesian art history. Affandi and Hendra Gunawan broke away from SIM and formed the Pelukis Rakyat (People’s Painters). ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ Sudjojono joined the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and became one of the leaders of the Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat (LEKRA or League of People’s Culture), a cultural arm under the Indonesian Communist Party. He was subsequently elected into Parliament in 1955. In the sanggar (studio) of SIM, Sudjojono’s works turned towards the aesthetics of social realism, reflecting the tumultuous political climate and social realities of everyday life.
Together with Henk Ngantung, Hendra Gunawan, Sudharnoto, M.S. Ashar and Hadi, Sudjojono attended the Youth and International Students Festival in Berlin. Here, he met Rosalina Wilhelmina Poppeck for the first time.
SIM was commissioned to create a mural for the Hall of Kemayoran Airport in Jakarta. 36 artists and artisans, including Sudjojono, were involved in the creation of the mural, which portrayed Indonesia’s cultural heritage.
Clockwise: Sudjojono with his daughter Maya, who loved to sit for his portraits. The couple had three children: Alexandra Pandanwangi, Germania Menangdjuang, and Mariano Dara Putih (Maya). Sudjojono and Rose married in 1959. Sudjojono in Studio Pandanwangi, Jakarta.
Ciputra, a businessman and leading collector of Indonesian art organised an exhibition titled, Pameran Besar Tiga Warna Seni Lukis on Sudjojono, Basoeki Abdullah and Affandi in 1985.
This photograph was taken in November 1972 Images courtesy of the S. Sudjojono Center
Retreat from Politics and Second Marriage 1958
Sudjojono was expelled from the Communist Party for his involvement with Rosalina Wilhelmina Poppeck, later known as Rose Pandanwangi. The couple met in 1951, during Sudjojono’s trip to Europe.
Sudjojono and Rose married in accordance with Christian rites. His marriage to Rose marked a significant transition in his life and artistic career. He withdrew from politics and focused on painting portraits, landscapes, still-lifes and everyday life. ￼￼￼ Sudjojono was commissioned to produce The Battle of Sultan Agung and Jan Pieterszoon Coen for the inauguration of the Jakarta History Museum. To prepare for this work, he researched extensively, creating approximately 40 sketches. The work was executed on a 3 x 10 metre canvas and marks one of his most important works.
On 30 October, Sudjojono, together with artists Basuki Abdullah and Affandi, held a joint exhibition titled Three Colours at Pasar Seni Jaya Ancol Gallery, Jakarta. During this exhibition, the three artists painted a canvas, symbolising the reunification of the art world in Indonesia since the formation of PERSAGI in 1937. The exhibition was regarded as a significant event in the history of Indonesian art as it marked the coming together of three important modern Indonesian artists. It was Sudjojono’s last exhibition. ￼ Sudjojono passed away: he died from lung cancer. In that year, a retrospective exhibition of his works was held at the Duta Fine Arts Gallery. About 109 works were shown to celebrate the life and works of the “Father of Modern Indonesian Painting”, of which 70% were exhibited publicly for the first time. In 2006, the S. Sudjojono Center was set up to support research and education on the artist.
Lee Qiu Ling is a museum educator who works with artists to develop artwork commissions and educational programmes. Her current research interest is in modern Southeast Asian art.
• Agusta, Margaret. “Unique New Gallery Offers Sudjojono Perspective.”The Jakarta Post. 27 September 1986, n.p. • Burhan, Agus. “Sudjojono’s View of Realism and the History of Modern Indonesian Art.” In Strategies Towards the Real: S. Sudjojono and Contemporary Indonesian Art, 24-28. Singapore: NUS Museum, 2008. • Oei, Hong Djien. The Five Maestros of Modern Indonesian Art. Magelang: OHD Museum, 2012.
Exhibited Artworks Nude 1959 Oil on canvas 144 x 100 cm Collection of Wee Woon Gek
Draw & Paint 1969 Album of 19 drawings Watercolour and ink on paper 27 x 36.5 cm each Private Collection, Singapore
Jalan Di Muka Rumahku (The Road In Front Of My House) 1959 Oil on hardboard 86.5 x 82.5 cm Private Collection, Malaysia
Self-Portrait 1970 Oil on canvas 73 x 62 cm Collection of Paul Lau Tsz Pan
Dunia Tanpa Pria (World Without Men) 1964 Oil on canvas 121x 187 cm Private Collection
Taman Djoko Dolok (Djoko Dolok Park) 1972 Oil on canvas 93 x 71.5 cm Collection of Wee Woon Gek
Orang-orang Mengambil Air I (The Waterbearers I) 1965 Pencil on paper 21 x 31 cm Collecton of S. Sudjojono Center
Mevrouw Senang Ketawa (The Lady Likes To Laugh) 1978 Oil on canvas 54 x 41 cm Collection of Wee Woon Gek
05 Abang Rahina 1956-84 Embroidery on fabric 77 x 111 cm Collection of Abang Rahino * Designed by Sudjojono, embroidered by Mia Bustam
Anggrek Di Alam Bebas (Orchids In The Wild) 1985 91 x 71 cm Oil on canvas Private Collection, Singapore
Kebun di Pacet (Garden In Pacet) 1985 Oil on canvas 69 x 89.5 cm Private Collection, Singapore
Garapan Pagi (Morning Labour) 1967 Oil on canvas 80 x 118 cm Private Collection, Singapore
Many individuals, organizations and institutions contributed to the realization of this exhibition and publication. First and foremost, we would like to thank the S. Sudjojono Center for its partnership in this exhibition as part of the centennial year celebration of S. Sudjojono (1913-1986). We are also grateful to the guest writers: Aminudin TH Siregar and Teo Hui Min; Lee Qiu Ling for her role as curatorial assistant, Suhaila Said for video editing. We wish to thank the following organisations and individuals: The National Art Gallery, Singapore, Low Sze Wee and Lisa Horikawa, Christine Fernando, Herra Pahlasari, and Corina Dorine Sabapathy for their generous support. We wish to thank Professor Vibeke Sorensen, Chair of ADM, for her support throughout the project.
Lenders Family of Paul Lau Tsz Pan Family of Mia Bustam Tan Koon Boon The S. Sudjojono Center Wee Woon Gek Private Collectors (Malaysia, Singapore) Photo Credits All images generously provided by the Lenders unless otherwise noted. Fareez Ahmad, pp 12â€“14
A Parellel event of