Sudjojono, Sindudarsono (1913–1986) By Cox, Matt
Sindudarsono Sudjojono was seminal in developing a discourse of modernity in early 20th-century Indonesia. Though a painter, he was most influential as a critic and activist. Through his critical writings, the formation of numerous painters’ associations, his political activism, and his ties to President Sukarno, Sudjojono married his political aspirations for social equality with his career as a modernist painter. His commitment to social issues and to revealing the “visible soul” in painting fueled his instruction of what many have described as an honest approach to painting. Sudjojono’s paintings exhibit a modern self-reflexivity and an emotive quality made explicit through a somber palette and expressive brushwork. His paintings evoking the gritty reality of daily life demonstrate little regard for the illusionistic or academic qualities of earlier Indonesian painters and distinguish him as a pioneer of social realism in Indonesian art. His early life, and his career tied to Indonesian independence, has been valorized within post-colonial narratives and continues to be a great source of interest for art historians. After his resignation from the Indonesian Communist Party and the Lembaga Kebudayan Rakyat [Peoples’ Cultural League] in 1958, his work largely focused on landscape, still lifes, and family portraits. This period of introspection and contemplation has not attracted the same kind of attention as his earlier life and work.