Tag Archives: Raden Saleh

Celebrating Indonesian Modern Art: the Painting Collection of the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Indonesia – Senandang Ibu Pertiwi

headpic_orig                         The National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta

The 2016 inaugural presentation of the Painting Collection of the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Indonesia, 17/71, Goresan Juang Kemerdekaan (The Brushstrokes of the Independence Struggle),  2-30 August at the National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, highlighted the relevance of art and culture to the nation. Officially opened on 17th August by the current Indonesian President Joko Widodo, on the 71st anniversary of the proclamation of independence, the exhibition featured 28 paintings from the collection of over 3000 works assembled by Indonesia’s founding father President Sukarno.

It  featured scenes of the independence struggle by Indonesian maestros such as Affandi, Sudjojono and Raden Saleh alongside pictures of iconic Indonesia by painters such as Srihadi, Rudolf Bonnet and Walter Spies. The painting collection hangs in all six of the Presidential Palaces in Java and Bali.

20170811_135559          Nyi Roro Kidul (Queen of the South Seas) 1950 – Basoeki Abdullah

20170811_140437                         Lelang Ikan (Fish Auction) – Itji Tarmizi

Following on from last year’s historic event which attracted over 30,000 visitors to the National Gallery, the second edition: Senandang Ibu Pertiwi (Songs of the Mother Land) open 2 -30 August as part of the 72nd anniversary celebrations of Indonesian independence. It showcased 48 works by 44  artists from the 19th and 20th centuries with a variety of themes including landscapes, tradition, mythology and religion.

The son of an aristocratic Javanese schoolteacher and his high caste Balinese wife Sukarno was born in Surabaya, East Java, in 1901. From 1921-26 he studied at the Institute of Technology in Bandung,  West Java, graduating as an engineer, focusing on architecture. As the founding father and first President of the Republic of Indonesia, a position retained for almost 21 years, Sukarno was responsible for transforming the physical landscape of the capital city of Jakarta with public art.

1_2_orig“Pribite Nevesti” a painting that depicts a traditional Russian wedding by Russian artist Egorovick Makowsky.

Sukarno was an art lover and a great supporter of Indonesian modern art and Balinese traditional art amassing huge collections. While he enjoyed close relationships with many  artists he was also a talented painter. During his presidencey art was seen as a tool to help build the spirit and character of the nation.

Pribite Nevesti is the first painting that greets visitors upon entry into the foyer of the National Gallery. Painted by Russian artist Egorovick Makowsky (1839-1915) it is believed to be more than 125 years old, and depicts traditional Russian wedding. The painting was given to Sukarno as a gift during his visit to Russia by the leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev. It was exhibited at the Kremlin in Moscow before being brought to the Bogor State Palace in West Java and put on display.

A01_DSCN4907 CRW_9464_Basoeki Abdullah_Pemandangan Flores        Pantai Flores (On the Shores of Flores Island) 1942 – Basoeki Abdullah

20170811_140513              Keluarga Nelayan (Fisherman’s Family) 1950 – Renato Cristiano

Entering the display room the first theme is Nature’s Diversity and features a  variety of  landscape paintings, twelve in number, that immortalize the dramtic and beautiful scenary of Indonesia.  One of the highlights is Pantai Flores (On the Shores of Flores Island) 1942, by Basoeki Abdullah, the painting was originally a watercolor on paper by Sukarno, that was replicated into an oil on canvas work on request by Sukarno. The scene of the beautiful Flores landscape was captured  while he was exiled on the remote Ende Island between 1934 – 38 , sentenced by the Dutch East Indies Colonial Government.

Another highlight was Harimau Minum (Drinking Tiger) 1863 by the father of Javanese modernism Raden Saleh (1811-1880) who after living in Europe for 20 years studying with various european artist, became a portrait painter for the aristracy. The painting portrays a mystical atmosphere that is rich in symbolism and depicts a tiger drinking from a river.

20170909_100327                 Harimau Minum (Drinking Tiger) 1863 – Raden Saleh

20170811_110652                 Works dispalyed within the theme of Nature’s Diversity

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The collection of works themed Mythology and Religion offer insights into the historic and cultural influences that have evolved throughout the country over the centuries helping to define Indonesia.

According Senandang Ibu Pertiwi  curators Asikin Hasan, Amir Sidharta, Mikke Susanto and Sally Texania, the exhibtion catalogue: “The archipelago is not only a region that has numerous myths containing mystical and anthropological values, but also a locus that has created elements appropriated by almost all of the major religions in the world. The major kingdoms that prospered in Java, Sumatra, and other large islands are a melting pot for teachings whose artefacts we can still find today.”

Arguably the most iconic painting  within the mythology theme is Nyi Roro Kidul (Queen of the South Seas) 1950 by Basoeki Abdullah, a story that is often described in paintings. In Yogyakarta, there is a widely known story about Nyi Roro Kidul, who is depicted as a beautiful woman and ruler of the South Coast and seas. The myth describes that Kidul is found of the colour green, so the local people and careful not to wear this colour when they venture out into the southern ocean for fear of being taken by the Queen of the South Seas.

20170811_135321                       Offering to the Gods – Gusti Ketut Kobot

20170811_140233                                         Theo Meier

20170811_135453                                   Ida Bagus Made Poleng

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Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

National Gallery Singapore Presenting and Archiving Indonesian Art

Farah Wardani. Image courtesy of NGSAssistant Director of the National Gallery Singapore Resource Center Indonesian Art Historian Farah Wardani. Image Courtesy NGS

A meeting point for major civilizations, religions and colonial powers, Southeast Asian art has experienced a turbulent social and political history defined by a complex relationship between local traditions and influences from the West. Open from November 2015, the National Gallery Singapore (NGS) oversees the world’s largest public collection of modern Southeast Asian art.

Boasting over 8,000 works including paintings, sculptures, printmaking, photography and video from the 19th and 20th centuries, housed in two immaculately restored and transformed national monuments – the former Singapore Supreme Court and City Hall – the NGS works together with international museums to jointly present Southeast Asian art in the global context.

bosch-brand-forest-fire-raden-saleh-1849-ngs-uob-souteast-asia-gallery-image-richard-horstman               “Bosch Brand” (Forest Fire) 1849  – Radan Saleh, National Gallery Singapore

Two exhibitions currently running at the NGS highlight Indonesian art. “Between Declaration & Dreams: Art of South East Asia Since the 19th Century” features nearly 400 artworks (over 90 by Indonesians) in the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery. The exhibition brings together the defining art movements and styles in the development of Indonesian modern art. From the “grandfather of modernism” Raden Saleh (1811-1880), featuring his 1839 composition “Wounded Lion”, to the “pretty pictures” Mooi Indies landscape genre that prevailed until early in the 20th Century.

Sudjojono (1913-1986) and friends next challenged the paradigm with a new nationalist style while banding together in the collective, PERSAGI (Persatuan Ahli Ahli Gambar Indonesia, 1938). The exhibition continues with the likes of Affandi, Hendra Gunawan, Walter Spies, and A.A Gede Meregeg to the 1970’s avant garde with the iconic work from the Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru movement, “Ken Dedes” by Jim Supangkat (1975 remade in 1996), and the 1993 video documentation by Krisna Murti,”12 Hours in the Life of Agung Rai the Dancer.”

ken-dedes-jim-supangkat-1975-remade-1996-image-richard-horstman                         “Ken Dedes” 1975 – Jim Supangkat, National Gallery Singapore

In the Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery “Reframing Modernism”, open from 31 March- 17 July, was the NGS’s first international collaboration, with the Center Pompidou of Paris. The history of modernism is a story of influence: that artistic movements developed in Europe and America and then spread to the rest of the world. The landmark exhibition focuses on the practices of individual artists in the West and Southeast Asia and how they can be connected to one another.

Drawing on over 200 iconic works exhibiting side-by-side are Kandinsky, Matisse, Picasso and Chagall, to name a few, along with Indonesian masters including Lempad, Sobrat, Sudjojono, Affandi and Hendra Gunawan. Labeled as ambitious exposition by some foreign critics, this is a unique opportunity to engage with some of the master works of modern art, complimented by the presence of Indonesians, and is an essential insight into modern art development. Emphasis was given to the architect-cum-artist icon Lempad (1862-1975), whose line sketches revolutionized Balinese art, and the mysterious, pioneering female modernist Emiria Sunassa (b.1894 Nth Sulawesi – 1964). Dubbed an artist, nurse, princess, elephant hunter, plantation administrator, businesswoman and social activist, Sunassa began painting at the age of 40.

sculpture-by-edie-sunarso-painting-sudjojono-purusing-a-poster-1956-image-richard-horstman  Sculpture “The Head  of Monument for the Independence of West Irian”  – Edi Sunarso, National Gallery Singapore

While both exhibitions, presenting some of the finest local art with curatorial attention bringing it into greater context, in a world-class institution are a boon for Indonesia, it is the less publicized, archival projects occurring deep within the sanctum of NGS that will garner increasing international interest to Indonesian art, along with added value.

“People tend to see archives as merely a library, knowing its important, yet often taking them for granted,” said Farah Wardani (b.1975 Jakarta), who after 10 years as Director of IVAA (Indonesian Visual Art Archive center) in Yogyakarta was recruited to NGS as Assistant Director of the Resource Center to oversee building the archival inventory. “I am excited to be a part of this enormous NGS project, the first highly focused, professional effort to archive SE Asian and Indonesian art history with international standards. It’s a starting point,” she adds.

dscf5310      “Title Unkown” (Abstract in Orange) 1968 – Ahmad Sadali, National Gallery Singapore

“Setting up the fundamentals of Indonesian art history involves the digitization of information, so we partner up, mostly with artist’s families, then sort through photo albums, diaries, catalogues and interviews, often finding the unimaginable,” Wardani revealed, having recently worked with the Sudjojono Center archiving almost 4000 items by the artist.

“Archiving requires great time and energy, yet the resources can be used in many different ways. Archives are artifacts that bring value by activating life into the artwork adding to the sustainability of the eco-system.”

“Archiving and database resources enable Indonesian art history to come out in the open,” Wardani said, commenting on what the project means for Indonesian art. “How many people actually study the masters of Indonesian art? It is still a niche art, a very unique subject, with a short and intense history. This is a wonderful opportunity for the international community to learn about more Indonesian art.”

dscf5163 “Mereka Yang Terusir Dari Tanahnya” (Those Chased Away From Their Land) 1960 – Amrus Natalsya, National Gallery Singapore

With the increasing engagement of Indonesia art and archival information and hence the relative growth in international appreciation, foreign institutions, curators, collectors and the curious will target the nation’s home grown art, ultimately benefiting the Indonesian art eco system in many ways, including financially.

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

dscf5153                      “Perusing A Poster” 1956 – Sudjojono, National Gallery Singapore

dscf5256                          “Pasar” 1943 – Emiria Sunassa, National Gallery Singapore

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