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S. Sudjojono (1913-1986) ‘Pagi di Bawah Beringin Tua’

By 29 augustus 2014No Comments

One of the starlots in our next Indonesian auction is a painting by
S. Sudjojono (1913-1986): ‘Pagi di Bawah Beringin Tua’
(Morning Beneath The Old Banyan Tree). 

S. Sudjojono (1913-1986), oil on canvas, 90 x 70 cm.

Born in Kisaran, Sumatra, S. Sudjojono (1913-1986) is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in the history of modern Indonesian art. One of Sudjojono’s biggest contributions to Indonesian Art is unarguably his view that art of Indonesia should reflect the character of the land and its people. When Mooi Indië (Beautiful Indies) – a style which depicted the idealized representation of Indonesia with beautiful landscapes and sceneries – was the dominating art style during the early 20th century, S. Sudjojono strongly rejected the style and coined the term Mooi Indië as a sinister remark to that particular style of paintings. He continued working in the style of works which represent Indonesia at that time, portraying Indonesian people in their everyday life activities.

Sudjojono’s point of view in art was also further disseminated in his involvement in the
establishments of several significant art associations during the colonial period. Amongst others, he was one of the founders of PERSAGI (Association of Indonesia Drawing Specialists, 1938). His involvement in these associations was done together with many other leading artists at that time, including Affandi, Agus Djaya, Henk Ngantung and Hendra Gunawan. These associations undoubtedly played an important role in the formation and development of modern Indonesian Art.

Sudjojono was a prolific artist and writer. His artistic oeuvre covers a wide spectrum, from
paintings, sketches, drawings, public art and reliefs as well as ceramic works.


In the current lot, everyday life on a beautiful Balinese morning is depicted.
A few people carrying fruits and vegetables walk the street, along a little warong.
Behind them, a temple complex serves as an impressive backdrop. The monumental Banyan or Waringin tree takes up most of the composition in the painting, emphasizing its gigantic size. The word Banyan is actually derived from the Indian word banya, meaning ‘grocer’ or ‘merchant’, referring to the merchants that we see conducting their business under this tree. Apart from that, a Banyan tree is considered sacred. It is even part of the coat of arms of Indonesia, symbolizing this sacred power, and the unity of Indonesia.

Sudjojono, as an expressionist and proud Indonesian citizen, must have considered these symbols when painting Pagi di Bawah Beringin Tua. One could think it is another visualization of Mooi Indië, but obviously it is the opposite; it does not romanticize or idealize. It merely shows, like Sudjojono intended, the daily chores of the Indonesian people within the (factual!) magnificent beauty of his beloved country.

Provenance ot this painting: Mr. J.F Drijfhout van Hooff (1912-1993), head of the ‘Loodswezen’ (Dutch maritime pilot organisation). In the early 70’s he lived with his wife in Jakarta and was advisor for the buoyage in the Indonesian waters. After 1973 they returned to Indonesia many times, for work and as a tourist. In these later years they bought this painting and kept contact with the artist and his familiy. See also the next lot. 

Estimate: € 30.000-40.000

S. Sudjojono (1913-1986)

Back of the painting
More information about our next auction of Indonesian paintings:

René de Visser

Zeeuws Veilinghuis
Herengracht 74
4331 PX  Middelburg
The Netherlands
0031 (0)118-650680