Arts and Culture, Art and Architecture
Chinese Muslims, Borobudur, important artists, central Java, rapid economic development
Indonesian modern art is an adaptation of modern art in other parts of the world, flavored with Indonesian cultural influences. Modern Indonesian art is often traced to the formation, in 1937, of the Union of Indonesian Artists, or Persagi (Persatuan Ahli Gambar Indonesia), and to important artists of the time such as Sudjojono. Artists were important in the nationalist movement in the 1930s and 1940s.
Indonesian artists clustered around several institutions such as the Taman Ismail Marzuki Art Center in Jakarta, a center of avant-garde art in the 1970s. The painter Djoko Pekik is known for his hard-edged expressionist paintings of the problems of daily life in Indonesia, particularly for the poor. The New Art Movement (Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru) in the 1970s and 1980s emphasized making art relevant to society by examining socioeconomic problems. Practitioners of this art included Hardi, Nanik Mirna, Jim Supangket, Dedi Eri Supria, Gendut Riyanto, Haris Purnama, and Bonyong Munni Ardhi. Contemporary artists such as Heri Dono, Agus Suwage, Tisna Sanjaya, and Arahmaiani create daring depictions of Indonesia’s social issues. Basuki Resobowo paints somber scenes from contemporary Indonesia, often based on themes of struggle and resistance. The more liberal environment in Indonesia since May 1998 has brought a surge of contemporary paintings dealing with these topics, which were forbidden during the Suharto era. Many of Indonesia’s contemporary artists, such as Basuki Resobowo, spent long periods in exile during Suharto’s rule.
Indonesia has a long and grand architectural tradition. Indian influence is evident in the large Buddhist monument of Borobudur and the Hindu temple of Prambanan, both in central Java. Borobudur is Indonesia’s most famous tourist attraction. Built in the 9th century, it is a representation of the Buddhist vision of the cosmos. Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple complex in Java, was built during the 8th and 10th centuries. Arabic and Chinese Muslims have influenced the architectural style of mosques throughout Java.
The government, with international aid, has worked to preserve much of its architectural heritage, including Borobudur. Some sites, however, are threatened by rapid economic development. Meanwhile, many of the new structures in Jakarta, particularly in the city’s business center, show the modernist and postmodernist influences of contemporary architecture. Indonesian architect Soejoedi Wirjoatmodjo has played a prominent role in modern designs.
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