Bandung & Modern Art: The Artists Behind It

  • Mar 22, 2024

Widely acknowledged as a hub of contemporary art in Indonesia, Bandung is  boasting a varied and vibrant art heritage, attracting artists in search of inspiration and acclaim in the art scene. The city wields significant influence and drives the advancement of modern art in Indonesia. 

What is the foundation for Bandung's emergence as the focal point of modern art in Indonesia? Let's delve deeper into this topic in the following article!

Art School in Bandung

Bandung, historically, has been a hub for the development and convergence of various artistic schools. From romanticism to expressionism, Bandung embodies a fusion of diverse cultural and social influences that have given rise to a distinctive art movement. The city's vibrant intellectual environment, particularly fostered by the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and the Fine Arts College (STSR), has served as a breeding ground for innovative artistic ideas.

Apart from receiving formal education at ITB and STSR, the development of modern art in Bandung was also influenced by the Bandung Lima Group. Five Indonesian masters, namely Affandi, Barli Sasmitawinata, Wahdi Sumanta, Sudarso, and Hendra Gunawan, gathered in the city of Bandung in the 1930s and later formed this art group. They were dedicated to enhancing artistic skills, particularly in painting, and revitalizing the presence of art within the diverse arts scene in Indonesia.

Ries Mulder's Influence in Modern Art

Ries Mulder, a Dutch artist residing in Bandung, has played a pivotal role in shaping modern art in the city. Through his unique and experimental approach, Mulder has encouraged numerous artists to push the boundaries of art and embark on daring explorations. Among the notable Indonesian painters he has mentored are A.D. Pirous, Ahmad Sadali, But Muchtar, Popo Iskandar, Mochtar Apin, and Srihadi Soedarsono.

 

Figures like Sunaryo, Mochtar Apin, Srihadi Soedarsono, and AD Pirous exemplify artists who have influenced the artistic landscape in Bandung. Through their varied styles and profound explorations across different mediums, they have inspired a new generation of artists to carry forward the artistic legacy of Bandung.

Srihadi Soedarsono

With over five decades of experience in the art world, Srihadi Soedarsono is considered one of the greatest Indonesian painters. As a Javanese, he was educated based on the principles of Central Javanese ethics. His life experiences, including his time at university, have helped him discover his true self as an artist. He began his journey in Solo, where he learned about aristocratic Javanese society. Later, while studying at ITB in Bandung, he was exposed to the western-oriented in education system. His experiences studying in America also helped shape his strong character and broad outlook as an artist. 

His art often features scenes of beaches, mountains, rice fields, and the sky. Mastering the use of color to convey the emotion or tone of a subject, particularly evident in the dancer series, through a simple yet effective color palette. In our current auction, we’re having one of his precious works titled "Bedoyo Ketawang-Beauty of The Soul" that portrays the unique beauty of the dance from the Surakarta Palace, which is exclusively performed during special occasions within the palace premises. The three dancers are adorned from head to toe, resembling a princess bride from the palace. They wear a golden bun with a white base adorned with white jasmine flowers cascading down to the waist, accompanied by an exquisite copper-colored necklace.

Global Auction 23rd March 2024 Sale 

Lot 013 | SRIHADI SOEDARSONO| Bedoyo Ketawang-Beauty of The Soul, 2010 | Oil on canvas: 150 x 140 cm

Est. SGD 85,000 - 116,000

 

This dance exudes energy, elegance, and authority, skillfully captured and depicted by Srihadi through his brushstrokes and color transitions. The attire of the dancers, with colors set against a backdrop of skin tone and white scarves, directs our focus towards the grace and beauty of the performers. To enhance the illusion of movement, Srihadi describes the dancers' attire with strokes that seamlessly blend into the black background, particularly noticeable in the lower part of their clothing.

Mochtar Apin

Born in Padang Panjang, West Sumatra in 1923, Mochtar Apin was a painter, illustrator, and writer. He graduated from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) in 1951 and furthered his studies in art and handicrafts in Amsterdam. In addition to painting, he also produced graphic works that have been showcased in numerous countries.

He was an artist who played a crucial role in the advancement of modern art in Indonesia, highly esteemed throughout his life and served as a primary source of information for modern thought, which was often hard to understand. The journey of Apin's artistic evolution was constantly surprising and frequently sparked controversy. For instance, in the early 1990s, Apin transitioned from his abstract style, super-graphic sculptures, and geometric patterned paintings to nude paintings. That's why he was considered the one who dared to experiment with colors and strokes, even though at that time few people dared to do so in Indonesia. As one of Ries Mulder's senior students, he was also one of the most daring in experimenting with art.

Global Auction 23rd March 2024 Sale 

Lot 032 | MOCHTAR APIN | Balinese Dancer, 1968 | Acrylic on canvas: 80 x 98 cm

Est. SGD 8,900 - 11,000

 

In our collection, we have the “Balinese Dancer'' painting that was first purchased by Joan Sommers, a renowned American artist known for her blend of abstract expressionism and eastern aesthetic principles. Sommers bought two of Apin's works while he was showcasing his art at the Trio Gallery in Bangkok in 1968. In the “Balinese Dancer” painting, Apin depicts Legong dancers and combines elements of abstract and realistic art. The colors and shapes in the painting are reminiscent of Apin's other abstract works. This painting combines sensitivity to color and form that is related to the geometric abstraction that Apin was practicing at that time, also marked the beginning of Apin's exploration into nude paintings in the 1970s and 80s.

 

Sunaryo

Sunaryo consistently holds a profound commitment to infusing his abstract and semi-abstract artworks with contemplations on ethics, morality, and aesthetics. This commitment could be seen by Selasar Sunaryo Art Space, a place he built in 1998 to showcase his artwork, and also support the emerging artist especially in Bandung, a place where he currently resides.

 

He pursued advanced studies in Carrara, Italy, immersing himself in the mastery of marble sculpting techniques. He showcased his works in various solo and group exhibitions both in Indonesia and on the international stage. His artistic creations fetched considerable prices at auctions, achieving record-breaking figures almost every year.

Global Auction 23rd March 2024 Sale 

Lot 011 | SUNARYO | Barong, 2000 | Mixed media on canvas: 150 x 150 cm

Est. SGD 25,000 - 31,000

In his painting titled “Barong Ket,” Sunaryo depicts a character in dance and drama that portrays a mythological creature resembling a lion or tiger with his distinctive art style. Barong is usually adorned with striking decorations and ornaments. Barong is revered as a symbol of good force (dharma) and defense against malice or symbol of evil force (adharma). Barong performances serve not only as entertainment but also hold profound spiritual and cultural significance for the Balinese community. They hold the belief that Barong bestows blessings of luck, protection, and prosperity.

Global Auction 23rd March 2024 Sale 

Lot 012 | SUNARYO | Backstage Dance Preparation (Persiapan Menari di Belakang Panggung), 2013  | Mixed media on canvas: 120 x 120 cm

Est. SGD 34,000 - 40,000

 

Known for his brilliance in portraying dancers behind the stage, Sunaryo depicted dancers who were about to perform in “Persiapan Menari di Belakang Panggung.” In this piece, the main focus is on the white and black background with a striking red contrast. Three dancers are portrayed preparing for their performance, capturing various moments and interactions. Sunaryo pays meticulous attention to the clothing, postures, and facial expressions of the dancers. Sunaryo enhances his painting by incorporating sticky sand to add texture, along with a gold/yellow crown symbolizing the dancer.

Abdul Djalil AD Pirous

Global Auction 23rd March 2024 Sale 

Lot 090 | ABDUL DJALIL “A.D.” PIROUS | Dzikrul Jalalah, 2005  | Mixed media on canvas: 46 x 46 cm

Est. SGD 1,200 - 1,600

AD Pirous, an ITB professor, is a master of graphic arts techniques and has created numerous paintings and graphic arts. He was born in Meulaboh, Aceh, on March 11, 1932, inheriting his artistic talent from his mother, who was skilled in making Acehnese embroidered clothes. In 1950, he moved to Medan to pursue his formal education, and in 1955, he continued his studies at ITB Bandung. Pirous furthered his education by enhancing his artistic skills in graphic design at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the United States in 1969.

Pirous was influenced by the Ries Mulder group, making him master the art of developing his unique style, particularly in portraying natural landscapes, flora, fauna, and abstract forms. During his studies in the United States, Pirous also refined his skills in graphic design and printmaking.

Global Auction 23rd March 2024 Sale 

Lot 091 | ABDUL DJALIL “A.D.” PIROUS | Basmallah, 1987  | Mixed media on canvas: 60 x 50 cm

Est. SGD 1,200 - 1,600

Choosing to pursue a career as a graphic artist led Pirous to innovate a new genre called Islamic calligraphy. He emerged as a prominent figure in the sector of calligraphy painting, establishing himself as a contemporary artist with an Islamic heritage. Pirous' expertise has led him to solo and group exhibitions, both domestically and internationally, showcasing his work and his name in cities and countries like Jakarta, London, Brazil, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Tokyo, Australia, and Taiwan.

Global Auction 23rd March 2024 Sale 

Lot 089 | ABDUL DJALIL “A.D.” PIROUS | Tjili Bali, 1968  | Oil on canvas: 60x 32 cm

Est. SGD 4,300 - 6,300

You can get the chance to preview these valuable pieces by visiting our art preview from March 4th to 23rd. We also have other valuable paintings for those who want to enjoy or collect Southeast Asian & Chinese Modern, and Contemporary Artwork. Our art previews and auctions always feature a variety of paintings in different styles, such as expressionism, impressionism, and many more.

Mark your calendar for Saturday, March 23rd, 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 updates!

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