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Art from Yogyakarta

Oct 18, 2016 by Anneke Verschuren

Photo of Art from Yogyakarta

I felt priviledged this week to be able to visit a group of artists in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (Java). Yogyakarta is the capitol of Java. Much of Indonesian history took place on Java. It was the centre of powerful Hindu-Buddhist empires, the Islamic sultanates, and the core of the colonial Dutch East Indies. Java dominates Indonesia politically, economically and culturally.


Besides the fact that I was completely overwhelmed by the fantastic nature, the temples from lava stones that are build up again and again after each earthquake, and the friendly people, we had a very special encounter with local artists.

We were invited in the studio of Sri Pramono who also invited all the other artists from Yogyakarta that are selling their artworks on arthit.com. They took all the paintings with them that are posted on our site and we spent the day discussing their artworks, eating and drinking local delicacies and exchanging stories about our cultures. I made new friends that day.

While I was listening to the explanation of their art works, I realised again that creating art is a very unique way of expressing yourself.  Where some artists are using their art as a way of communicating their political opinions and concerns, others are processing their experiences in life via the creation of artworks or are making sure their cultural heritage will be captured for next generations.

Artists are able to express their emotions, opinions and experiences in images and knowing the stories behind a painting can make it even more valuable.

I have listened to the story behind each and every one of the paintings. I was touched by the artists that explained to me how they expressed their feeling of being lonely, disappointed or in love and happy. And the artist that created work about the richness of human kind with their diversity of heritages, religions and cultures. 

I listened to some artists who's paintings expressed a loud cry out for human beings to be more social and caring about our environment.

Derau 120 x 120 cm

Harmoni 100 x 120

The artist that seemed to be smiling all the time and had stars in his eyes while explaining about his painting that looks like a parody on ‘The Last Supper’ while he clarified that it expresses life as a continuous cycle of people partying with many links to different religions and historical stories. I couldn’t take my eyes of this canvas because there was so much to explore!

Last Fiesta 150 x 100 cm

Andi Hartana creates huge paintings in an abstract style with many details and special techniques, which makes his paintings read like a book.

Desember Yang Gagal 200 x 150 cm

"It was in December and I was waiting for someone (a woman) who did not come. I felt sad, but I believe from something bad will come something good"

And I was impressed by the paintings and philosophy of Yuli Kodo who creates amazingly realistic paintings about the people from his culture. The white masks in many of his paintings are traditional but also represent that we are losing our sense of true self at an ever-younger age. The expressions on their faces are so realistic that you feel like they could start talking to you any minute.

There are too many pictures to show and stories to share for only one blog post. We will do an effort in the next weeks to capture all the stories behind the paintings on our site. Just filter on the country Indonesia and browse through the paintings with their stories if you like to see more!

On my last day in Yogyakarta I promised to visit a friend of a friend who is managing a house for people with a mental disorder. I listened to his stories about some of the individuals with autism, Down syndrome or Alzheimer. He explained how these people were found living on the street or abandoned since birth. One of them, an old man who is diagnosed with schizophrenia and was found living on the streets, is a smoker. And since he had no money, he created his own money by drawing it. With these self-made Rupiah’s, he bought his daily cigarettes. So, I ended my visit with leaving my cigarettes behind in exchange for these one-of-a-kind Rupiahs.

I hope that you will enjoy the richness of all the different stories and expressions of artists on this site.

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