With love and all my friendship
To my fellow fighters who took up arms
And stood up for the freedom and protection
of the Republic of Indonesia
Dengan rasa cinta dan setiakawan
Kepada kawan-kawan seperjuangan
Dalam mendirikan dan membela Republik Indonesia
A.M Hanafi (frontispiece of Menteng 31: Membangun Jembatan Dua Angkatan)
Ngaso (Resting) and Pertemuan di Tjikampek yang Bersedjarah (Historical Meeting in Tjikampek) are two historically significant works by S. Sudjojono from the personal collection of A.M Hanafi, the former Indonesian Ambassador to Cuba. They represent Sudjojono's period of realist painting at its finest zenith; reflecting his active engagement with politics and fervent revolutionary spirit.
A.M Hanafi and Sudjojono first met as revolutionary compatriots in the anti-Dutch movement. Hanafi was part of Asrama Angkatan Baru Indonesia (Asrama of the New Generation of Indonesia) which gathered at Menteng 31, a location in residential Jakarta. Menteng 31 was originally conceived as a training ground to overthrow the colonial forces, with sponsorship from the Japanese. Adam Malik, Sudjojono's close friend and artistic patron, was a political mentor to his younger colleagues. Among the nationalists invited to teach at Menteng 31 were Sukarno, Hatta, Yamin, Sunarjo, and Amir Sjarifuddin.
Despite the Japanese involvement coming to an end in 1943, Menteng 31 continued to be a meeting place for young activists to gather and discuss politics. It was within this intellectual hotbed that Hanafi, Malik, and Sudjojono forged the bonds of friendship and aesthetic exchange.
Ngaso (Resting) is a wistful recollection of their life together as revolutionary brethren. This work is highly reminiscent of another monumental picture from the Japanese years, Persiapan Gerilya. [see illustration] which depicts the same scene of an afternoon lull, a rest break, between the relentless activities of Indonesian independence. Ngaso reflects the finest qualities of Sudjojono's revolutionary realist works with firmly executed brushwork and an intrepid balance between the light and finely honed dark shades. Unlike Sudjojono's other more militaristic works, this portrayal shows the young guerillas as vulnerable, human, yet movingly united in their endeavour.
Pertemuan di Tjikampek yang Bersejarah (Historic Meeting in Tjikampek) was executed during a key interlude in the revolutionary movement when the guerrilla leaders Chaerul Saleh (a relative of Hatta), Wikana and A.M Hanafi held a landmark meeting at the API Headquarters in Tjikampek in November 1945, as they were travelling to Yogyakarta to attend the Youth Congress. The API headquarters were based in a former rice mill which was destroyed in a bombing by a NICA dragonfly aircraft during the trio's visit. The moment was captured in a sketch by Sudjojono who witnessed the meeting, following the destruction of the rice mill. The sketch was published in the political journal, Pepolit, and eventually repainted by Sudjojono in 1964 as a gift to Hanafi who was departing for Havana as the ambassador to Cuba. Around the same time, Adam Malik was also made ambassador to the Soviet Union and Poland. It is unlikely that S. Sudjojono and A.M Hanafi ever met again in their lifetimes.
These two works have been in the European personal collection of A.M Hanafi following his term of ambassadorship until this present auction. Pertemuan di Tjikampek yang Bersejarah was illustrated in A.M Hanafi's memoirs of the Menteng 31 period published in 1996.