Widayat, Haji (1919–2002) By Clark, Christine
A prolific and influential Javanese artist, Haji Widayat is recognized for his “dekora-magis” (magical-decorative) contribution to Indonesian art. Throughout his five-decade artistic career he experimented widely, working in an array of themes, styles, and media. Greatly admired for his extraordinary versatility and imagination, Widayat freely appropriated and adapted imagery from various cultural sources creating his own distinctive modern expression. He is best known for paintings of enchanted, fantastical worlds inspired by nature, myths, and folklore, religious literatures, and primordial states; his work featured Javanese legends, Judeo-Christian narratives of genesis and creation, and Papuan statues. Widayat often portrayed dense forests, deep-sea fish, birds in trees, primitive objects, and events around him rendered through a rhythmic repetition of flat meticulous motifs that densely filled the entire field. Alongside these stylistic investigations, he regularly explored abstraction and other modernist tropes. Although he predominantly produced oil and acrylic on canvas and watercolor on paper, he practiced etching and dry-point printing and painting on ceramics, and at times sculpture. Widayat was also an inspirational art educator: he lectured for over 30 years at the Akademi Seni Rupa Indonesia (ASRI – Indonesian Academy of Fine Arts) in Yogjakarta.