Sadali, Ahmad (1924–1987) By Rath, Amanda Katherine
Ahmad Sadali was an iconic figure of the Bandung School and remains a key influence as a pioneer in modern abstract painting in Indonesia. Sadali, along with But Mochtar, Mochtar Apin, and Srihadi Soedarsono, was among the first generation of Indonesian students in the Bandung School. His early work of the 1950s demonstrates the direct influence of his teacher, Dutch painter Ries Mulder (1909–1973), whose own work was influenced by the Cubist work of Jacques Villon (1875–1963). Immediately upon graduation in 1953, Sadali became one of the first Indonesian lecturers of the Academy. Sadali was a key figure in the development of a modern Islamic art and its discourse in Indonesia, for which the principles of abstraction in modern painting were well suited. A devout Muslim and the son of a founder of the Garut chapter of Muhammadiyah, Sadali perceived painting as a spiritual act, as a way of seeking God’s blessing, and as imbued with tasawuf (inner mystical quality). He referred to his paintings as visual meditations, and the act of painting as a form of zikir (repetitive acts leading to a mindfulness of God).