S. Soedjojono

b. 1913, Sumatra, Indonesia
d. 1986, Jakarta, Indonesia

Sindoesoedarsono Soedjojono is viewed as the Father of Indonesian Modern Art. At the time when his country was portrayed in paintings as a heaven full of beautiful landscapes and women in elaborate clothing, the artist refused to support the lie. Instead, in his work, he boldly decided to portray only the truth through social realism. His point of view on art was further disseminated by his involvement in establishing several significant art associations during the colonial period. Among the important national movements he founded are the Association of Indonesia Drawing Specialists (PERSAGI) in 1938 and the Young Indonesian Artists (SIM) in 1947.

S. Soedjojono was the first to introduce the idea of a visible soul, or a ‘ketok’ soul as the identity of the country’s art. In 1946 he founded Young Indonesian Artists (Seniman Indonesia Moeda) in Madiun. Aside from being an artist, Soedjojono was also the first Indonesian art critic and was described as one with a nationalist spirit. In his early works, realism prevailed. He preferred rough movements and strokes that gave the impression that the paint was poured directly onto the canvas. He depicted his subjects truthfully as they were without any embellishments. In 1937, he participated in a group exhibition with European painters in Batavia. Later in his career, he slowly abandoned social realism. He became inspired by legends, myths, allegories, and Biblical stories.

In 1931 the artist opened a new school in Rogojampi, Banyuwangi, and worked as a teacher at Taman Siswa. Today his work is still widely popular and often exhibited. In 2022 some of his paintings were on view at a group exhibition, ‘Revolusi!’ at Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, and in 2021 ‘Meanders in the Tropics: Narrative of Indonesian Modern and Contemporary Art’ at Tsinghua University Art Museum in Beijing, China.


Country: Indonesia