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S. SUDJOJONO (Indonesia 1914-1986)
S. SUDJOJONO (Indonesia 1914-1986)

Gunung Gede dan Pangrango (Mount Gede and Pangrango)

Details
S. SUDJOJONO (Indonesia 1914-1986)
Gunung Gede dan Pangrango (Mount Gede and Pangrango)
signed with initials, dated, titled and inscribed "SS 101, Djak, 1970/Gunung Gede dan Pangrango/Ini the Savus, Oom Endi" (upper left)
oil on canvas laid down on board
18.5 x 31 in. (47 x 78 cm.)

Lot Essay

Sudjojono's landscape work should not be viewed merely as a lyrical representation of the nature. In the context of his leading role in expounding the Modernist movement and his vehement attack on the Mooie Indie school (Beautiful Indonesia) which he felt was hindering the progressive tendencies in the development of Indonesian Art as artists, indigenous or foreign, continued to emphasized only the beautiful landscape or women, clearly demonstrating a 'hierarchy of aesthetics' in the choice of subject-matters. To him, the practice of painting only pretty landscape and other 'acceptable' themes is an insincere idealisation of reality.

To be truthful to oneself as an artist and to the subject is the only solution to Sudjojono as he states "Every artist must take as his starting-point his own nature. An artist must be courageous in all things, especially when it comes to offering his ideas to the world, even if he does not receive any public recognition at all . Each and every artist must embody these two qualities, truth and beauty. Not beauty in the sense recognised by the public at large, but from the point of view of aesthetics as understood by the artist himself" (Astri Wright, Soul, Spirit, and Mountain: Preoccupations of Contemporary Indonesian Painters, Oxford University Press, Kuala Lumpur, 1994, p. 157).

Truth to Sudjojono is not a mere objective conclusion of an individual but in the post-colonial context of the young republic, it is a truth that needs to be transcended with a sense of solidarity or comradeship with the community at large:

"Who will show the world: 'Look, this is how we are' A generation who will dare to say: 'This is how we are', which means this is our condition of life now, and these our new desires.The new artist would then no longer paint only the peaceful hut, blue mountains, romantic or picturesque and sweetish subjects, but also sugar factories and the emaciated peasant, the motor cars of the rich and the pants of the poor youth; the sandals, trousers and jacket of the man on the street. This is our reality. And the living artist who does not seek beauty in antiquity or in the mental world of the tourist, will himself live as long as the world exists. Because high art is work based on our daily life transmuted by the artist himself who is immersed in it, and then creates." (Ibid., p. 157-158)

The view of the depicted volcanoes Mt. Gede and Pangrango are the twin volcanoes of West Java. In the write-ups of the area, the area has been described as "one of the first national parks in Indonesia. It covers a total forested area of 15,000 hectares. This area has a special place in the history of both conservation and botanical research in Indonesia. It includes the Cibodas Nature Reserve which has been the scene of numerous botanical and other studies for a period of well over a hundred years by a number of scientists and naturalists, including such eminent figures like Reinwardt, Junghunn and Wallace". (www.geocities.com/RainForest/4466/gede2.htm).

Gunung Gede dan Pangrango contains all the quintessential elements of a work by Sudjojono who is an expressionist at heart. Colours are used subjectively to suggest a landscape of familiarity and character as perceived by the artist. The grandeur of the volcanoes is down played, almost lingering on the composition as a background, the artist highlights the foreground with interesting details and delightful colours. The palm tree that stands tall on the right edge of the canvas suggests a sense of immediacy with the broken branch and dangling foliage - a less than perfect image indeed but nevertheless undeniably realistic. Looking closely, one finds the scattered tropical faunas, the house and the lamp post that are boringly common but beautifully identified with the palette of the artist. Indeed the artist is telling the world with his works "This is how we are" and that "This is our reality".

It is not known if the present lot is painted as an intended accompanying piece with Lot 70 Oom Endi dan Ria di Cipayung (Unlce Endi and Ria at Cipayung). However the artist's inscription of Oom Endi on the present lot and the fact that Cipayung is a village on the way to Puncak and that it overlooks Gede and Pangrango to the South and Mount Salak to the West is a very telling sign of the artist's affinity to both Uncle Endi and the vicinity of the depicted areas.
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