The sweeping narrative titled Landscape is a classic piece from the artist’s oeuvre. The work contains within it all the hallmarks of Hendra’s artistic vocabulary establishing him as one of the key figures in Indonesia’s history of modern art. As one of the artists from the Sanggar period (1945-1949) who focused on the country’s political turmoil and economical shifts in power, Hendra’s early paintings were largely subversive, incorporating sociological themes into narratives understood by the rural public. The present work was created 30 some years after the Sanggar period, however staying true with the artist’s revolutionary spirit Landscape remains faithful to Hendra’s belief that the natural environment is what makes up a nation.
Within the present work the artist has rendered Bandung’s topography in rich hues that succinctly convey the allure of the physical landscape. Landscape is a very special work from Hendra’s career, for the inspiration for the piece came from the artist’s friendship with the highly revered art collector Ali Sadikin. The artist was staying in Mr. Sadikin’s guest room, and upon opening the window to gaze down upon the lush gardens was inspired to create a painting that shared the same serenity and beauty of the flora and fauna that captivated his attention. The colors chosen are reminiscent of Sundanese color tones and Parahyangan landscapes. Mr. Sadikin and the artist were both Sudanese, and this detail enhanced their friendship even more.
Elements in the narrative further communicate Hendra’s socio-political ideas, notably the exchange between human beings and Mother Nature. Hendra often featured volcanoes and mountains in his landscape paintings, their presence creating a sense of stability in the compositions. The water buffalos walking up the mountain path, together with the villagers and their children, also create a certain feeling of balance and harmony in the painting. The actions of all these figures are interconnected and part of a greater picture. One cannot exist without the other, and this reciprocity is essential for the growth of a country and its people. As a historical analysis of Indonesia’s independence, and as a visual celebration of the country’s topography, Landscape is a very special piece from the artist’s oeuvre.
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