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Sukarno The Patron of Art: Begin Your Collection with His Favorite Painters

  • Jan 24, 2024

If you're interested in starting a collection of Indonesian art but not sure where to begin, you can take inspiration from one of the earliest, biggest, and most famous Indonesian collectors, Sukarno, who is also known as the first president of Indonesia. In this article, we can learn from the influential art enthusiast Sukarno, who had an extensive art collection. Let's dive some valuable insights about Sukarno and his favourite painters.

Sukarno, the first President of Indonesia, was renowned not only for his charismatic and visionary leadership but also for his profound passion for painting. His interest in fine art began in his youth and grew into a deep love for paintings, reflecting his personality as a painting collector. He did not perceive art solely as a form of entertainment or decoration, but as a medium for conveying messages and cultural values.

For Sukarno, painting was more than just an art object; it held deep value and philosophical meaning. He viewed each work of art as an expression of the soul that enriched human life. Sukarno considered the paintings in his collection to be valuable items with their own unique charm. As a patron of Indonesian art, Sukarno not only elevated Indonesia onto the international stage but also left behind a valuable legacy in the form of an art collection that has become an integral part of Indonesia's artistic and cultural history. This is how he valued the artists, viewing them as talented people, and this also led him to form close connections with artists in order to gain a deeper understanding of art.

He is a key figure in Indonesian art, being the only president of Indonesia to introduce Indonesian artists and their artwork to other world leaders during their visits to Indonesia or vice versa. Sukarno is also known for his impeccable taste in art that propels the development of modern art in Indonesia. To discover more about his favourite painters, you can learn more from the book "Sukarno's Favorite Painter". Below are the names of several of his favorite painters:

  • Adrian Le Mayeur De Mepres
  • Affandi
  • Antonio Blanco
  • Arie Smit
  • Basoeki Abdullah
  • Dullah
  • Ernest Dezentje
  • Gerard Pieter Adolf
  • Hendra Gunawan
  • Henk Ngantung
  • Lee Man-Fong
  • Raden Saleh
  • Rudolf Bonnet
  • Rusli
  • S. Sudjojono


Sukarno’s Favourite Painters in Our Collection

Talking about Sukarno and paintings, Global Auction, as a reputable auction house, is honoured to have several collections from Sukarno's favorite artists. Below are some of the artists and their artworks:

Hendra Gunawan

Global Auction 27th January 2024 Sale 
Lot 003 | HENDRA GUNAWAN | Tiga Wanita dan Bunga, 1975 | Oil on canvas: 90 x 145 cm
Est. SGD 125,000 - 143,000

Hendra's typical portrayal of women is of indistinguishable individuals, depicted as nurturing, motherly beauties with voluptuous and undulating bodies wrapped in brightly colored cloth. He employs exaggerated profiles, featuring long necks, protruding noses, and large eyes, reminiscent of the stylization of human form found in wayang. 

Natural elements such as the beach serve as the backdrop to his main subjects, as seen in this present work. Hendra's stylistic figures and landscapes may be influenced by his deep understanding of the rich signs and symbols of Javanese culture. The monumental landscapes of Java, depicted in a decorative approach to color, are also connected to the deeper level of traditional artistic expression in Indonesia.

Antonio Blanco

Global Auction 27th January 2024 Sale
Lot 012 | ANTONIO BLANCO | Ni Bawang II | Oil on canvas: 71 x 45 cm
Est. SGD 85,000 - 107,000

Ni Bawang II is depicted in oil on a 71 x 45 cm canvas, making it a rare artwork by Blanco. Since the early 1980s, Blanco has primarily focused on painting on paper, making his canvas works hard to find. This piece is one of the larger works by Blanco, and there are only 2 known records of him using oil on canvas to depict Ni Bawang.

Ni Bawang originates from the folklore known as “The Cinderella of Bali”. As per the museum note: The tale began with a girl named Ni Bawang, who resided with her stepmother and three of her unattractive and self-centred stepsisters. They despised Ni Bawang and subjected her to daily harassment. One day, Ni Bawang ran away from the house and found herself in the mountains. There, she befriended a magical bird that bestowed upon her abundant riches in the form of gold, diamonds, and love. Subsequently, a handsome prince arrived and wedded Ni Bawang, and they lived happily ever after.

This "Ni Bawang II" painting has been exhibited at the Blanco Museum. Every painting showcased at the museum has undergone curation and holds significant value in the artist's legacy. Therefore, having this "Ni Bawang II" painting means owning a rare masterpiece of "Museum quality" that is rarely seen in the market.


Global Auction 27th January 2024 Sale
Lot 004 | S. SUDJOJONO | Untitled (“Local Wisdom”), 1981 | Oil on canvas: 90 x 70 cm
Est. SGD 22,000 - 31,000

In the painting "Untitled (Local Wisdom)", two men are depicted: a local man and a soldier. They appear to be interacting while facing the same direction. Despite their different occupation, they converse until dawn (or from the break of dawn), as indicated by the background. The sky suggests that the scene is set at dawn, transitioning from a darker shade of blue to a brighter hue at the horizon. The local civilian is depicted to be guiding the soldier, pointing to a direction that they are both facing, and the soldier listening in closely.

Mahyuddin S.

Global Auction 27th January 2024 Sale
Lot 126 | Mahyuddin S. | Membajak Sawah | Oil on canvas: 80 x 120 cm
Est. SGD 3,100 - 4,000

Interested in collecting Indonesian paintings from President Sukarno's favourite artist? Global Auction is pleased to offer a selection of other valuable paintings for those who want to enjoy or collect Indonesian paintings. Our art previews and auctions always feature a variety of paintings of different styles such as expressionism, impressionism and many more. 

Discover more by visiting our offline auction preview. Mark your date for January 27th 2024 at 4.00 PM (JKT) and join our online live auction. Don’t hesitate to click here for more information and visit our social media for more updates!