Rereading Realism of Sudjojono

October 7, 2013

By Winarto


“Makan Nasi”, painting, wroked by S Sudjojono

A modest man seems to enjoy his foods on a pincuk (a plate made from banana tree leaf). His mouth is full of foods while his eyes are closed expressing the delicacy tasted by his tongue. This image of modesty is very real presented by Sudjojono on his painting with title “Makan Nasi” (Eating Rice).

“Makan Nasi” is one of Sudjojono’s paintings displayed at National Gallery,Jakarta. From September 21 untilOctober 6, 2013his teens  paintings and tens works of other artists exhibited here as a part of  tribute to 100 years Sudjojono. The exhibition entitled “Jiwa Ketok dan Kebangsaan:S Sudjojono, Persagi dan Kita’ (“The Real Spirit and Nationality:S Sudjojono, Persagi (Indonesian Artists Organisation) and We”)

“Makan Nasi” is a good example of Sudjojono’s work which is a representation of  the art expression choice of  Sudjojono that is realism. Other painting here that shows the spirit of realism is “Ada Orkes” (There is A People Music Orchestra). This painting made in 1970 presents the people’s fiesta merry in a village because of a music orchestra.  The sign of populace is so real in this painting and so does  in his other work “Cap Gomeh” (A traditional festive of Chinese ethnic).

Sudjojono was known as a Indonesian painter with the theme of common people life and nationalism issues. Realism on the people and nationality was his respond to challenges at the time before and early Independence of Indonesia.  Indonesia was freedom from colonialism was in 1945. His realism was also a respond to many Indonesian artists during the time that tend to paint something beautiful of Indonesiabe the people and the nature or scenery. He called the kind of paintings was mooi indie (Beautiful Indonesia). This painter was born in Kisaran, North Sumatra, 1913, said that mooi indie did not declare socio-political situation and the people in Indonesia which was still in the struggle for Independence and to solve various socio-economical problems.

“When an artist makes an art work, it is really that the work is his/her apparent spirit. Art is the real spirit,” said Sudjojono in his some articles he wrote.

The people and nationality

The realism on the people and nationality of Sudjojono has colored Indonesian visual arts journey for several decades. Even he has been installed as the Father of Indonesian Modern Visual Art. Besides a painter, Sudjojono used to write articles and active in organization. In 1937 he found an association for Indonesian painter Persagi (Persatuan Ahli GambarIndonesia).

“Legiun Veteran”,painting, worked by Agung Mangu Putra

After Independence of Indonesia he has never stop to work and loyal to his realism. He was dead in 1986. Now, 27 years after his death his realism on the people and nationality is tried to reread and rebuilt through this exhibition here.

Besides his paintings, it was also displayed Persagi painters’s works such as Otto Djaja, Agus Djaja and and Emiria Soenassa’s ones.

Teens Indonesian contemporary artists also participated to this event. They were for instance Agung Mangu Putra, Asmudjo J Irianto, Entang Wiharso, Isa Perkasa, Ivan Sagita, Nasirun, Nyoman Erawan, and Seruni Bodjawati.

They tried to interpret Sudjojono’s thinking and ideas about realism and nationality. Not all give the best result. The work of Agung Mangu Putra, “Legiun Veteran” was the best one that able to show Sudjojono’s idea about realism, nationality and populace. “Legiun Veteran” images face of  an Indonesian war veteran. The old face is looked so hard with some ex-wounded scratches on his forehead. His eyes look   ahead although are blurred by cataract. “Legiun Veteran” represents the real spirit of Sudjojono that never give up to face the challenges of all era.

Other artists reinterpret Sudjojono’ painting and thinking in parody. Young contemporary artist Nasirun with his work “Di Dalam Kelambu Tertutup” (In A Closed Mosquito Net) has made parody from “Di Depan Kelambu Terbuka” In Front of Open Mosquito Net) worked by Sudjojono in 1939. A painting worked by Sigit Snatosa, “Aku Tidak Tahu Kemana Seni Akan Kamu Bawa” (I Don’t Know Where You Want to Bring The Art) will make us smiling because this remain Sudjojono statement: “We know where to bring the Indonesian visual art!” This famous statement was a respond to western observers who underestimated Indonesian artists works at the time.

Leave a Reply