Srihadi Soedarsono (1931-2022)


Srihadi Soedarsono stands as a luminary figure within the realm of Indonesian art, his brushstrokes weaving narratives that capture the essence of his homeland with remarkable depth and sensitivity.

Born in Solo, Central Java, in 1931, Soedarsono’s journey as an artist mirrors the evolution of modern Indonesian art itself, spanning decades of cultural and political transformation.

Srihadi Soedarsono with his materpiece Bedoyo Ketawang painted in 2015

Rooted in his upbringing amidst Java’s rich artistic heritage, Soedarsono’s early years were steeped in tradition and creativity. His fascination with painting burgeoned during his formative years, leading him to pursue formal art education at the Indonesian Academy of Fine Arts (ASRI) in Yogyakarta. Under the mentorship of illustrious Indonesian painters such as Hendra Gunawan and Affandi, Soedarsono honed his craft and forged his distinctive artistic identity.

In 1952 he began to enter art education at the Painters Education Center, Faculty of Engineering at the University of Indonesia Bandung (now the Faculty of Fine Arts, Bandung Institute of Technology), with the Dutch cubist painter Ries Mulder as his teacher. In 1955, he created the Fine Arts Student Family (KMSR) logo for the Faculty. The logo is in the form of a palette with the words “ART RUPA BANDUNG” with the symbol of the University of Indonesia.

He graduated as a fine arts graduate and graduated on Saturday, 28 February 1959, just two days before the Bandung Institute of Technology was inaugurated (Monday, 2 March 1959). In 1960 Srihadi received a scholarship from ICA to study in the US to continue his studies at Ohio State University until he received his master of art degree in 1962. Despite all his international travels, Srihadi painted often traditional Javanese cultural topics, including dancer and the Borobudur temple, as well as landscapes.Evenso,hepaintedabstract,herepresents traditional, rather than the Westernized painting styles of several of his colleagues.

Throughout his prolific career, Soedarsono’s oeuvre traversed a myriad of styles and themes, reflecting the complex tapestry of Indonesian society. His early works exude a palpable sense of romanticism, with lush landscapes and vibrant colors imbuing his canvases with a sense of vitality and warmth. Influenced by the Indonesian realist tradition, Soedarsono’s paintings evoke a sense of nostalgia, offering glimpses into the rural idylls and cultural traditions of his homeland.

However, it was Soedarsono’s profound engagement with the socio-political landscape of Indonesia that truly distinguished him as an artist of profound significance. Living through tumultuous periods of Indonesian history, including the struggle for independence and the authoritarian regime of President Suharto, Soedarsono’s art became a powerful vehicle for social commentary and cultural expression. His works often grapple with themes of identity, memory, and the human condition, offering poignant reflections on the complexities of Indonesian society.

The residence of the late artist in Kemang, Jakarta

One of Soedarsono’s most iconic series, “Garis Waktu” (The Line of Time), epitomizes his thematic preoccupations and artistic mastery. Comprising a series of evocative paintings that depict scenes from Indonesia’s past and present, “Garis Waktu” serves as a visual chronicle of the nation’s history, juxtaposing moments of triumph and tragedy with profound lyricism.

Through his meticulous attention to detail and emotive brushwork, Soedarsono invites viewers to contemplate the passage of time and the enduring spirit of the Indonesian people.

Beyond his artistic endeavors, Soedarsono’s contributions to the cultural landscape of Indonesia are manifold. As a teacher, mentor, and advocate for the arts, he played a pivotal role in nurturing the talents of future generations of Indonesian artists, instilling in them a sense of artistic integrity and social responsibility. His influence extends far beyond the confines of the canvas, shaping the trajectory of Indonesian art and fostering a deeper appreciation for its cultural heritage.

Today, Srihadi Soedarsono’s legacy endures as a testament to the transformative power of art in society. His paintings continue to captivate audiences around the world, transcending geographical boundaries to forge connections and foster understanding. As Indonesia marches forward into the 21st century, Soedarsono’s indelible imprint on its artistic landscape serves as a reminder of the enduring power of creativity to illuminate, inspire, and unite.

Srihadi Soedarsono, Bedaya Ketawang-Beauty of Soul, 2015, Oil on canvas, 150 x 150cm

His artistic style

Srihadi Soedarsono’s artistic style evolved significantly throughout his illustrious career, reflecting a dynamic interplay between tradition and innovation, introspection and engagement with the world around him. From his early explorations of romantic realism to his later embrace of abstraction, Soedarsono’s oeuvre is characterized by a remarkable versatility and a steadfast commitment to artistic experimentation.

In his formative years as an artist, Soedarsono was deeply influenced by the rich artistic traditions of his native Java. Drawing inspiration from the landscapes, cultural heritage, and everyday life of Indonesia, his early works exhibit a distinctive blend of romanticism and realism. Lush, verdant landscapes, bustling market scenes, and intimate portraits of ordinary people populate his canvases, suffused with a sense of nostalgia and reverence for the beauty of his homeland.

One of the hallmarks of Soedarsono’s early style is his masterful use of color and light to evoke mood and atmosphere. Vibrant hues and bold brushstrokes infuse his paintings with a sense of vitality and warmth, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of rural Indonesia. Whether capturing the ethereal glow of a sunrise over a rice field or the bustling energy of a Javanese marketplace, Soedarsono’s paintings pulse with life and emotion.

Oleg Tambulilingan – The Energy of Love and Care, 2012 Oil on canvas 143 x 104 cm

As Soedarsono’s artistic journey progressed, his style underwent a gradual evolution, marked by an increasing experimentation with form, composition, and abstraction.

Inspired by his encounters with international art movements and his own quest for artistic innovation, he began to explore new techniques and modes of expression, pushing the boundaries of Indonesian art in bold new directions.

One of the most significant developments in Soedarsono’s artistic style came in the 1970s, when he embarked on a series of paintings that would come to be known as “Garis- Garis” (Lines). Departing from the representational realism of his earlier works, these paintings embraced abstraction as a means of exploring the fundamental elements of form and color.

Stripping away the trappings of narrative and figuration, Soedarsono distilled his artistic vision to its essence, creating compositions characterized by bold, geometric shapes and dynamic interplays of light and shadow.

In the “Garis-Garis” series, Soedarsono’s brushwork became more gestural and expressive, imbuing his canvases with a sense of energy and movement. Swaths of vibrant color intersect and overlap, creating dynamic visual rhythms that captivate the eye and stimulate the imagination.

Yet, amid the apparent chaos of his compositions, there remains a sense of order and harmony, a testament to Soedarsono’s innate sense of balance and proportion.

In sum, Srihadi Soedarsono’s artistic style is characterized by its versatility, its willingness to embrace change and experimentation, and its deep roots in the cultural heritage of Indonesia. Across decades of creative exploration, he remained true to his vision as an artist, constantly seeking new ways to translate the beauty and complexity of his homeland into paint on canvas.

Figurative Excellence

Soedarsono’s Landscape Series, a testament to his artistic brilliance, captures the essence of nature with a unique perspective. These masterpieces, sought after by art enthusiasts worldwide, have found their place in prestigious auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s, where they command attention and admiration.

His figurative style infuses landscapes with life, evoking emotions and narratives through intricate details and vibrant colors. Each stroke of his brush breathes vitality into his compositions, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the splendor of nature. From serene meadows to majestic mountainscapes, his artworks resonate with a sense of tranquility and awe, reflecting the artist’s profound connection with the natural world.

The Landscape Series by Srihardi Soedarsono encompasses a diverse range of paintings, each bearing the artist’s distinctive touch and vision. While some pieces exude a sense of serenity and stillness, others pulsate with dynamic energy, capturing the ever-changing moods of nature. This versatility adds depth and richness to Soedarsono’s composition, ensuring that there’s something for every connoisseur of fine art.

At auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s, Soedarsono’s Landscape Series commands attention from discerning collectors and art enthusiasts alike. The exquisite beauty and timeless appeal of his artworks make them highly coveted pieces in the world of contemporary art. Prices for Soedarsono’s paintings in the Landscape Series vary depending on factors such as size, complexity, and market demand. However, they typically range from several thousand to several hundred thousand dollars, reflecting both the artist’s stature in the art world and the inherent value of his creations.

Srihadi Soedarsono’s “Bedaya Ketawang” artworks captivate audiences with their profound blend of tradition and modernity. Born in Indonesia, Soedarsono is celebrated for his mastery in merging Javanese cultural motifs with contemporary artistic expressions.

Green Landscape, 1974 Oil on canvas 93 x 143 cm RM 200,000 – 350,000

”Bedaya Ketawang” represents a pinnacle of Soedarsono’s artistic journey, inspired by the classical Javanese dance- drama, Bedhaya Ketawang. In his works, he intricately weaves elements of this traditional dance form with vibrant colors and abstract compositions, creating visually stunning pieces that resonate deeply with viewers.

Through his art, Soedarsono communicates the rich cultural heritage of Indonesia while also addressing universal themes of spirituality and human connection. Each brushstroke seems to carry the weight of centuries of tradition, yet also bursts forth with a sense of innovation and vitality.

Soedarsono’s “Bedaya Ketawang” series serves as a testament to the enduring power of art to transcend boundaries and communicate across cultures.

Horizon, 1980
Oil on canvas
82 x 58 cm
RM 85,000 – 150,000

It invites viewers to immerse themselves in the beauty of Indonesia’s cultural tapestry while also reflecting on the ever-evolving nature of artistic expression in the modern world.

With each artwork, Soedarsono invites us on a journey of discovery, inviting us to explore the intersections of tradition and innovation, history and contemporary life, in a mesmerizing dance of colors and forms.

Srihadi Soedarsono’s “Green Landscape,” a captivating 1974 oil on canvas, emerges as a masterpiece in the realm of Indonesian art.

Evoking serene vistas, lush foliage, and ethereal light, it transports viewers to the heart of nature’s embrace. With a harmonious blend of vibrant greens and subtle earth tones, Soedarsono captures the essence of the Indonesian landscape.

As it graces the auction stage, its value transcends monetary worth, embodying the artist’s profound connection to his homeland and offering collectors an opportunity to possess a timeless symbol of beauty and cultural heritage.

Estimated at RM 200,000 – 350,000, it beckons connoisseurs to bid for a piece of artistic excellence.

The other piece which will be on auction, ranging from RM85,000 to RM150,000 called “Horizon,” a mesmerizing 1980 oil on canvas, invites viewers into a world of boundless possibilities.

With sweeping brushstrokes and a mastery of color, Soedarsono captures the essence of vast expanses and endless skies. “Horizon” embodies a sense of serenity and contemplation, as if gazing into the infinite expanse of the universe.

Its harmonious composition and subtle play of light evoke a profound sense of peace and wonder. Through this artwork, Soedarsono invites us to pause, reflect, and embrace the beauty of the world around us.

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