From Expressionism to Decorative

December 15, 2012

Metamorphosis of I Made Djirna’s Painting

By Winarto

Gajah Genit (The Flirtatious Elephant, 2012) by Made Djirna

Pay close attention to I Made Djirna’s paintings in his solo exhibition at National Gallery, Jakarta, last November, I felt to be brought to the full colorful world.  A half of about twenties  paintings presented here have so big size, the average is about 2×4 meters and more.  This made me remember to the painting of “wayang beber”, Javanese traditional performance art that using large-sized paintings as a tool for telling the stories. Besides the size which are gigantic, this is also caused by the decorative style of his paintings that illustrate a lot of objects with each narration of themselves.

Look at, for instances, his works Rama Shinta, 2011, Bahtera Nuh (Noah’s Ark, 2012), Lubang Emas (The Golden Hole, 2012), Cerita (The Story, 2012), Rimba (The Forest, 2011), and Metamorphosis, 2012.

At The Golden Hole we find figures of human and animals which are trapped in some holes with each their stories themselves. And with The Forest we can build some stories based on various figures of human, animals and plants.


I Made Djirna, was born in 1957 in Ubud, Bali, is known with his paintings that so expressive as the result of his strong spontaneous strokes. He likes to use dark colors such as dark brown and black.

“Metamorphosis” (2012) by I Made Djirna

Jim Supangkat, curator of this exhibition, said that Made Djirna’s works have been influenced by his childhood life in his motherland, Ubud, which were damaged by catastrophe. Mount Agung (Gunung Agung), in eastern Bali, erupted in 1963 brought about large flaw and hunger.

The memory of his childhood life has been for a long time kept in his mind and coloring his works since his early career (during 1980s) up to the early 21st century. In this exhibition we can enjoy his early works such as Mengenang Piramid (Reminisce about Pyramid, 1994) and Kabut Hitam (Black Fog, 1994).


Since the last years of the decade 2000, the style of  Djirna’s paintings change to be decorative. This metamorphosis is, as matter of fact, rather surprising. However, some critics look this is as a sign of the growth of Made Djirna’s mind and perspectives along with his increased ages. Hermanto Soerjanto from GarisArt Space, the organizer of the exhibition, said that the change of Made Djirna’s painting style show how he has grown wiser over the years.

His paintings are in recent years more artistic with various and bright colors. Although using decorative style and more softly, Djirna’s works still contain social criticism strongly. Look at, for instance, his work Gajah Genit (The Flirtatious Elephant, 2012). Here, Made Djirna  wants to show the damage of our environment caused by the power domination.

At his other work, Full of Drinks (2009), Djirna illustrates a big head with teens drinking bottles inside and human figures in various poses like as drunkards. Outside of the large-sized head there are some heads which almost sink in thousands drinking bottles. With this works it looks like that Djirna wants to portrait the reality of our life in recent days. A part of us is often in unconscious condition, feel unhappy, there is no hope, and choose to drink for drunk.


I Made Djirna, graduated from Indonesian Art Institution (ISI) Jogjakarta in 1981, is one of Indonesian artists with high productivities and often participate in a lot of exhibition in Indonesia and abroad such as Singapore, Australia, Canada, Switzerland and USA. His works gets some awards like as Lempad Prize, 1982, and Pratisara Affandi Adhi Karya, 1983.



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