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Talking about culture can be said to be endless. How not, the scope of culture is not only wide but also continues to develop. Indonesia’s art and painting culture is no exception.

The appearance of painting and drawing in human life until now, since humans know the name of painting or drawing, of course, has been countless. I can’t imagine what would happen if there was no such thing as a painting or drawing in this life.

The important role of a painting or picture is as a means of assisting in conveying a message in visual form. With this facility, it can be said that the message can be more easily conveyed. We can see how much of our social media contains so many images and videos.

Therefore, it is interesting if we then discuss specifically how the actual journey and also the development of image culture and painting culture in Indonesia in particular. Here’s the full review.

Development of Indonesian Drawing and Painting Culture

The following is a brief description of the development of the image and painting culture in Indonesia. By knowing this cultural journey, we can more or less see how the process of developing a culture in general in a certain region.

Indonesian Painting Culture before the 19th century

We begin the journey of Indonesian drawing and painting culture since the pre-19th century. At this time most of the drawings and paintings were still limited to decorative arts. Which for the people at that time was considered as part of religious and spiritual activities. This is comparable to pre-1400 European art depictions.

Painting as a medium for perpetuating objects. Source: unsplash.com
Painting as a medium for perpetuating objects. Source: unsplash.com

As for the use of the names of artists at that time still using anonymous. This is due to the assumption that human creators are still far more important than their creations. In addition to honoring the gods or spirits at that time.

One example of art and drawing in the period before the 19th century is the decorative art of kenyah. This decorative art is based on endemic natural motifs such as ferns, hornbills and so on which are commonly found on the walls of longhouses at that time for aesthetic purposes.

In addition, there are other well-known traditional arts such as the geometric Toraja wood carving. Balinese paintings which were originally still narrative images to illustrate scenes from Balinese legends and Hindu religious scripts, and much more.

Indonesian Painting under Dutch Colonial Influence

Continuing in the period when Indonesia was still in the Dutch colonial era. At that time, painting could be said to have begun to tend towards Western-style painting. Precisely around the 19th century. In the Netherlands itself, the use of the term “Indonesian Painting” is applied to various paintings made by the Dutch or foreign artists who lived and worked in the former Dutch East Indies.

One of the original 19th century Indonesian painters who was quite popular at that time was Raden Saleh, who was born in 1807 AD and died in 1877. This native artist with Arab mixed blood was one of the first to study in Europe. So do not be surprised if later a number of his works were strongly influenced by romanticism.

In addition, in 1920, an artist named Walter Spies came and settled in Bali. Along with its development, Western culture began to shift to Balinese culture and arts. This is one of the reasons why Bali today has one of the richest painting traditions in Indonesia.

Indonesian Painting 1920 to 1940

It continued from 1920 to 1940. During this period, painting was quite influenced by the growth of nationalism in Indonesia. At this time, many artists began to see art from the point of view of the natural world as the inspiration for their artwork. It was then that the works of Bali Ida Bagus Made and the realist Basuki Abdullah emerged which were quite popular and become one of the most sought after antiques by collectors.

Basuki Abdullah's abstract painting. Source: google.com
Basuki Abdullah’s abstract painting. Source: google.com

In addition, the Association of Indonesian Painters (Association of Indonesian Drawing Experts or PERSAGI) emerged in 1938–1942). This association was formed and subsequently established a number of contemporary art philosophies that view artwork as a reflection of an artist’s individual view of a particular object as well as an expression of national cultural thought.

Indonesian Painting since 1940

Stepping into the 1940’s. Since then, artists have begun to make efforts to combine various Western techniques with the image and culture of Southeast Asia. Indonesia is no exception. Furthermore, many painters began to appear who were members of the revolutionary movement of the World War and the post-World War period. Among them are Sudjojono, Affandi, and Hendra.

During this period of the 1960s, more and more new elements were added when abstract expressionism and Islamic art began to be widely absorbed by a number of art communities at that time.

the influence of Islam on the arts. Source: unsplash.com
the influence of Islam on the arts. Source: unsplash.com

During this period, many painter groups began to care more about the realities of Indonesian society. They take a lot of inspiration from various social problems in the community such as the division between the rich and the poor, environmental problems such as deforestation and many others.

Following the development of painting in this era, a number of art academies emerged in Indonesia as part of the development of painting and drawing culture. The three most popular are the Bandung Institute of Technology, which was founded in 1947, the Indonesian Academy of Fine Arts (ASI) or ASRI which is now ISI Yogyakarta, and the Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ) which was opened in 1970.

Thus, a brief review related to the description of the journey and also the development of the art of drawing and painting in Indonesia. Hopefully this short review can be useful and add your insight about Indonesian art and culture. Don’t forget to share and check out other interesting reviews That’s all and thank you.