Cave paintings, for the most
part, of hand stencils but also of human and animal figures, assumed to be
some 5,000 years old, are found in South Sulawesi and Irian Jaya. The inner
walls of some megalithic graves in the Pasemah highlands, southern Sumatra,
contain colored paintings dating from about 100 AD. In the 14th century
mention was made of painted scrolls of fine white bark-cloth used in wayang
beber, one of the oldest forms of wayang performances.
The art of decorating cloth in
the batik technique is a form of painting, for the molten wax is applied on
the cloth with a canting, a pen-like instrument, though the colors are
provided by dyeing. Early Javanese literature even refers to batikers as
The people of Central Sulawesi
painted intricate symbolic motifs in bright colors on bark-cloth vestments by
using vegetable dyes and bamboo brushes.
Temple hangings, streamers,
curtains and traditional astrological calendars in Bali are made of painted
cloth or wood.
Balinese painting is
characterized by its style of filling all space, its themes which are taken
mainly from Hindu religious life, mythology and legend, and the absence of
time, space and perspective. The founding of "Pita Maha" in the
1930s by Cokorde Sukawati from Ubud (Central Bali) together with Dutch artist
Rudolf Bonnet and German painter Walter Spies, brought a dramatic revolution
in Balinese painting.
Influenced by these and other
Western artists, Balinese painters came to use oils and to apply the concept
of colors, perspective and the third dimension, and their subjects were no
longer drawn exclusively from the traditional repertory, but scenes from
everyday life began to emerge.
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A brilliant exponent of
"Pita Maha" was Gusti Nyoman Lempad, noted for his cremation towers
and ink drawings. He died in 1978 at the age of 121. Works of art from Ubud,
the center of local and foreign artists, were bright and vivid in contrast to
those of the "Community of Artists" in which dark and sombre colors
The "Community of
Artists" was formed in 1969 by Dewa Nyoman Batuan at the village of
Pengosekan (Central Bali), the home many artists who draw their subjects from
nature and Balinese daily life.
Foreign artists apart from
Walter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet, who have lived and painted or are still living
and painting in Bali, include Hans Snel and Arie Smit from Holland, Spainís
Antonio Blanco and Theo Meier from Switzerland. The present "Le Mayeur
Museum" at Sanur, South Bali, was formerly the home of the late Belgian
impressionist Le Mayeur and his Balinese wife Ni Polok, once a famous Legong
Indonesian painters came to be
known late in the nineteenth century after Raden Saleh earned world fame on
account of his naturalistic technique in paintings of animals and landscapes
and his portraits in oils. Later, other naturalist painters followed, such as
Abdullah Surio Subroto and his son Basuki Abdullah, a renowned portrait
painter, Pringadie, Hendra, Trubus, Omar Basalamah, Sukardji, Wahdi and
In 1937 Sudjojono and the
brothers Otto and Agus Djaja founded PERSAGI (Indonesian Painters Association)
whose members sought a synthesis of traditional and modern painting while
developing a style of their own which was characteristically Indonesian. Other
art groups came into being as "Seniman Indonesia Muda" (Young
Indonesian Artists) and "Pelukis Rakyat" (Painters of the People).
The leading man of the latter was category Affandi and artists of this group
include Trubus, Nashar, Hendra Gunawan, and Sjafei Sumardja. Him-self an
expressionist, Affandi was said to have opened "a new way of
expressionism". He was one of the few Indonesian artists to have
participated in famous international exhibitions such as those of Venice and
During the Japanese occupation,
Indonesian artists were recruited to make posters for propaganda. They did
accept the orders and thus had the opportunity to develop their artistic
abilities, and during the Revolution did not stop painting.
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Since many artists had joined
the guerilla warfare, their paintings consequently bear witness of those
turbulent days of the revolution, like Sudjojono's "Flight" and
In 1947 a college for art
teachers was set up in Bandung which in 1951 was incorporated into the Faculty
of Fine Arts of the Bandung Institute of Technology. Other steps towards
promoting fine arts in Indonesia were the founding of the Academy of Fine Arts
in Yogyakarta (ASRI) in 1950 and the Jakarta Institute of Art Education (LPKJ)
obstructionism, expressionism and impressionism have all been displayed in
Indonesian paintings, and Indonesian artists today are developing new forms
and styles by using feathers, bronze, velvet, glass, banana-tree barks,
cloves, etc. Recently "batik paintings" by which oils and canvas are
replaced by the ancient wax-and-dye technique, have become popular.
Contemporary batik artists are Amir Sapto Hudoyo, who has a gallery of his
own, Kuswadji, Bambang Oetoro and the Sumatran Amri Yahya all of them
domiciled in Yogyakarta.
For the development and
appreciation of the fine arts, Balai Budaya (Hall of Culture) and Taman Ismail
Marzuki (Jakarta Art Center) have been founded. Named after the late
poet-composer Ismail Marzuki, the Art Center has four theaters, a dance
studio, an exhibition hall, a number of small studios for contemporary artists
and residential units for members of the administration.
Present-day painters are
Mochtar Apin, But Muchtar, Srihadi Sudarsono, Popo Iskandar, Abdul Djalil
Pirous (calligrapher), Abas Alibasjah, Tom Harry, Cak Kandar and Jim Supangkat.
Woman painters include Emiria Sunasa, the oldest of the group; Kartika,
Affandi's daughter, Umi Dachlan, Sriyana Hudionoto, Agnes Julinawati, Nunung
W.S. and Sisca Damayanti Soebyakto.
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Information provided by the Directorate
of Foreign Information Services, Department of Information, Republic of