In celebration of the 71st Independence Day of the Republic of Indonesia the Galleri Nasional is hosting an Exhibition of paintings from the Presidential Palace, collected by Soekarno the first President of Indonesia. Including many famous paintings by Indonesian artists such as Affandi, Basoeki Abdullah, Hendra Gunawan and the enormous painting by the artist Raden Saleh showing the treacherous arrest of Prince Diponegoro by General de Kock in 1830, and marking the end of the five-year Java War. Which in a huge touch of irony Raden Saleh gifted to the King of Holland and it was subsequently transferred back to Indonesia in 1978. If, like me, you are not expecting to be invited to the Presidential Palace, then this exhibition is a ‘must see’.
During his lifetime Soekarno collected 2800 paintings of which only 28 are on display at the exhibition, many of which are related to the Indonesian struggle for independence against the Dutch. The painting on view here is by Kartono, one of the Young Indonesian Artists of the period and depicts a battle in the village of Pengok near Yogyakarta.
I knew that Soekarno was an architect and a great patron of the arts but what I did not know is that he was himself a painter and he started painting after his arrest and exile to Ende in Flores. The exhibition includes a painting he made, from a sketch by his artist friend Dullah, of a women entitled Rini with no details of her relationship to Soekarno or Dullah. Here the curator of the exhibition Mikke Susanto explains about the painting of Rini by President Soekarno and apparently her identity is still something of a mystery.