S Sudjojono, Art and Politic

May 24, 2011

S Sudjojono,  Art And Politic


Known as father of modern Indonesian painting art, S Sudjojono was also a fighter for Indonesian independence through arts way. For Sudjojono art is not values free. Art is not for art itself, but art is for people. Through art Sudjojono was involved in the struggle for Indonesian independence.

Sudjojono was born in Kisaran, North Sumatra, December 14, 1913. When in elementary school his good talent in painting attracted special attention from his teacher.  Then, his teacher, Yudhokusumo, adopted him as his son and brought him to Jakarta. Sudjojono learned painting autodidactic. His formal education was the School for Teacher in Lembang, West Java.  After finishing his study he worked as a teacher at this school.

Nevertheles, his talent in painting called him to be an artist. As an artist Sudjojono was also a thinker and a good organizer.  In 1937 along with Affandi and Hendra Gunawan, he built an association for Indonesian artists Persagi (Persatuan Ahli Gambar Indonesia). He was also involved in many kind of youth organizations and in the struggle for Indonesian independence. Together with some artists he made posters and paintings protesting to colonialism.  Because of his activities in politic he was closed to some political figures such as Soekarno who then became first President of Indonesia.

After independence, Sudjojono had been a member of parliament from Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), but not for a long time. He resigned from the party and parliament and backed to be an artist. This save him from repressive policy of New Order regime after 1965 political crises.

Stand Guard for Our Motherland by Sudjojono, 1940

Although ever tried in expressionism Sudjojono was consistent with his social realism in his works. Most of his paintings are about ordinary people in their daily activities. But as a nationalist he noted much moments about Indonesian struggle fighting to colonialism in his works. One of his paintings which so famous is Pertempuran Sultan Agung dengan JP Coen (The battle between The King of Mataram, Sultan Agung, and Dutch colonial general JP Coen). For making this painting Sudjojono needs seven months to research the historical event which happened in 1628-1629. The painting he made in 1973 has been a collection of Museum of History in Jakarta.

As a thinker of culture, Sudjojono wrote a lot of articles especially on art with his new ideas. His ideas really have influences to development of art in Indonesia, so he was appreciated as a father of modern Indonesian art. Collection of  his writings has been made a book, Seni Lukis, Kesenian dan Seniman (Paintings, Art, and Artits), published in 1946 and 2000.

Sudjojono was dead in 1986, but his works is still hunted by collectors in Indonesia and foreign.

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