Sudarso Biography


Sudarso was born in 1914 during the times of Dutch Colonial Rule. Under the Dutch, Indonesian children were denied basic education, not to mention specialized training like traditional art techniques and methods. Priority was only given to aristocrats and intellectuals or civil servants. Generally, children from lower classes would be destined to serve as laborers or delivery boys.

Sudarso was no different. Fortunately, one of his deliveries was milk and eggs to his future teacher Affandi. Sudarso would sit for hours watching Affandi paint.

One day Affandi looked at him slightly irritated and asked, “Why do you like to watch me paint for hours and hours?” Sudarso informed him that he wanted Affandi to instruct him in drawing and painting. Affandi started giving him lessons and half used tubes of paint thus, beginning a lifelong friendship.

Perhaps it was luck that led Sudarso to dedicate his entire life to painting. Still, there was much for him to overcome. At the time the only successful Indonesian painters were those who completely detached themself from being Indonesian. Sudarso chose a very different route and experienced a very hard life, but through art Sudarso was able to float through all realms of Indonesian Society.

The period was very discouraging for aspiring painters, as the door was shut on any Indonesians that might posses undiscovered or creative talent.
The Dutch press along with the Dutch artists living in Indonesia until the Japanese occupation, all belittled and degraded the potential of the indigenous people.

It was impossible for Indonesian painters to get showings because the Dutch could not fathom an Indonesian painter having talent unless he spoke Dutch, dressed Dutch, and was formally educated by a Dutch painter.

When the Germans invaded Holland and the Japanese moved into Indonesia they were astonished to find such brilliant work in painters giving exhibitions for the first time.

As the Indonesian art scene began to flourish he moved to Yogya and began teaching at Akademi Seni Rupa Indonesia, which was the most prestigious art school of its day. He was also head of the legendary “Pelukis Rakyat”.

Sudarso choose happy and simple, beautiful young women and girls as his subjects. He found such amazing beauty and intensity in women but was most noted for his rendition of hands and feet. Everything about the hands and feet is realistic down to the smallest details.

Besides fathering the painting revolution, Sudarso and his wife Hj. Asiyah had 8 children. All five of the boys became painters. The youngest of these sons has established himself as a father figure to another generation of Indonesian painters. Gono, is a magnificent abstract painter with a color and texture sense unparalled in all of art. His paintings sell all around the world for thousands of dollars.

Sudarso’s paintings are extremely rare at this point in time. He has been collected around the world and is in many museums. His most notable collector, and close personal friend, is President Soekarno. First President of the Republic of Indonesia.

To truly biography Sudarso, who passed away in 2006, would be a much larger task. He was monumental in the transformation of art into a political tool for Indonesians. The real Sudarso experience is too vast for a single post. Check back for future postings.

Sudarso Gallery

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