About

The development of art over the last decade has largely been driven by a growing market which promotes and favors new and contemporary-style works created by living artists, most of them under 50 years of age, and all still productive. Comparatively, the works of deceased modern-era artists have received less attention because these are difficult to obtain, the highly-sought after ones commanding high prices, resulting in major forgeries. Also, many of these pieces are held by established and well-heeled collectors with no immediate interest in releasing them. As such, the quality works of the “old masters” do not receive strong rotation in the commercial art market, resulting in many of the works of these renowned masters to be neglected, and slip into obscurity. Many artists and collectors entering the market today are oblivious to these notable yet underexposed modern artists, resulting in undervalued market prices of their work, some below even those done by younger artists. The exhibition features the works of five top Indonesian artists: Affandi, S. Sudjojono, Hendra Gunawan, Widayat and Soedibio. Space constraint has unfortunately limited our choices to just these five artists. Affandi, Sudjojono and Hendra Gunawan are three of the most famous names in the art scene of Indonesia. Soedibio was a great artist of his generation whose name and works are less known in today’s art circles. Widayat was also of that generation; he was a student of Affandi and Hendra Gunawan but also developed a new and important style in the history of Indonesian art, known as “dekora-magis”: decorative yet not sweet but magical. The works by Affandi, Sudjojono, Hendra Gunawan and Widayat are strongly represented and make up the bulk of the collection at the OHD Museum, however we get the opportunity to view the old and rare surrealist pieces of Soedibio which have scarcely been seen anywhere else. Soedibio is the Father of Surrealism in Indonesia, worthy of the same honor awarded to the previously-mentioned four artists, and his greatness will be seen in this exhibition. This book also offers an opportunity to follow the journey of these artists in the development of their art. While the Museum cannot show all their works, the exhibition has been carefully selected to represent these masters of Indonesian art. The OHD Museum has strived for a comprehensive presentation of these five “Old Masters”, featuring their works in diverse mediums and themes, from all periods of their art. We hope the exhibition of these five maestros provides a better understanding of Indonesian contemporary art which was built on the foundations laid by these pioneering artists. This exhibition also serves as an introduction to visitors from abroad who would like to learn and discover Indonesia’s modern and contemporary art in a more thorough way, which, until recently, has only been glimpsed and partially revealed. When the Dutch returned to reoccupy Indonesia after its proclamation as an independent republic on August 17, 1945 by Ir. Soekarno and Hatta, the new government was forced to move to Yogyakarta upon the invitation of Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX. The artists heeded the call as well. An era of revolution in Yogyakarta followed after, from 1946 to 1949, with the inevitable war against the Dutch. On December 19, 1948, the Dutch launched an airstrike and occupied Yogyakarta, known as the 2nd Dutch Agression. Soekarno and Hatta were captured and exiled to Bangka, and the government of Indonesia fled to West Sumatra under the leadership of Syafrudin Prawiranegara, an occurrence rarely told in history lessons, perhaps because Syafrudin was later regarded a rebel when he founded the PRRI (Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia) in 1958 in Sumatra where he was Prime Minister. In Yogyakarta, the Indonesian troops went inland and waged a guerilla war against the Dutch under the command of General Sudirman. The revolution era was an important period in the history of modern art, and it is unfortunate that many works were destroyed, damaged or missing as the government did nothing to rescue them, while many of those stored by the government were not well maintained. This task now falls on us, collectors and art lovers alike who love Indonesia. The revolution era was an important focus of inspiration for artists of that generation. Even in the following decades after Indonesia’s independence and into the 1970s, they continued to paint scenes of that era. Artworks from the historic revolution era have barely been exhibited to the public. Ir. Soekarno himself had a collection of paintings that can now be viewed at the Gedung Agung/Palace of Yogyakarta. It is a pity that not many people know about it. Often times I took foreign guests to see this collection and they were very interested because they could not view these works anywhere else. Since the proprietor is interested in the works of that time, the revolution era is represented quite well at the OHD Museum including the works of Hendra Gunawan, S. Sudjojono and Soedibio produced during the period of the struggle for Indonesia’s independence. It is noted that Affandi’s paintings capturing the guerrilla war were not as many as the others and unfortunately is not represented here; perhaps because Affandi tended to paint on-site, which was obviously a challenge in the midst of war. Widayat also is not represented as he himself was fighting in the forests of Sumatra at the time, and yet to begin his career as a professional painter.