Lot 466
  • 466

Sudjana Kerton

1,400,000 - 1,800,000 HKD
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  • Sudjana Kerton
  • Keroncong Moritsku (Ukulele)
  • Signed and dated 89; Titled, inscribed and dated 1989 on the reverse
  • Oil on canvas
  • 110 by 80.5 cm.; 43 1/4 by 31 3/4 in.


Jakarta, Gedung Pameran Seni Rupa, Departemen Pendidikan Dan Kebudayaan (Ministry of Education and Culture), Nationalism and Its Transformations: Reflection on Works of Sudjana Kerton, Jakarta, Indonesia, 22 November- 13 December 1996


Rizki Akhmad Zaelani, Nationalism and Its Transformations: Reflection on Works of Sudjana Kerton, Pendidikan Dan Kebudayaan (Ministry of Education and Culture), Jakarta, Indonesia, 1996, P. 128, Color plate 62 


The work is in good condition overall, as is the canvas, which is clear and taut. Indication of light wear and handling is evident around the edges due to the mounting of the frame, however paint layers are well-preserved. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals soft craquelure predominantly on the four corners and middle surface of the painting (man with guitar's hands, seated man's white shirt and singer's top). Framed.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

“I am a part of every subject I paint; I share the feelings, the happiness, the misery, the thirst, the rain, the heat. This is why I paint from memory, to be able to express my inner feelings more clearly and why the lines in my paintings often appear distorted.” – Sudjana Kerton

Admired for his works' charming and poetic themes, Sudjana Kerton is renowned for his originality as an artist. His formal education and decades of experience separates him from the other artists of his generation. Kerton was born in Bandung in West Java, and grew up with a passion for painting. Although he was under the tutelage of prominent Dutch teachers in the city, it was not until the Japanese Occupation that he studied at the Keimin Bunka Shidoso, a government sponsored art association.

During the Indonesian struggle for independence, Kerton developed his profound sense of nationalism, joined as an illustrator at the newspaper Patriot. Through his sketches and drawings, Kerton documented several important and historical events in Indonesia’s path towards independence. His patriotic spirit and keen interest in human behavior and relationships influenced his choice of subjects in the artworks, and he found comfort in painting the lives of the Indonesian people from his personal memories.1

In 1947 he joined the Pelukis Rakyat Movement that featured other artists such as Affandi and Hendra Gunawan. Later in his career, Kerton was privileged with a scholarship from the Dutch cultural organization and traveled to Europe and America. Whilst living in the West his works were heavily influenced by abstract art, and it was only when he returned to Asia that he began to revisit his heritage.

Upon his return in 1976, Kerton realized how twenty-five years had affected the country, and was suddenly faced with a rapidly changing Indonesia with a culture that was foreign to him. Therefore Kerton continued to fill his canvases with memories of the past, which he cherished and that reminded the people of their roots to Javanese traditions. His dedication and enthusiasm paid off during the 1980s, with this being a significant period in his artistic career. Kerton’s vision of the rakyat kecil was the defining motif during these years of creative expression. Works from this period are infused with a strong sense of communal spirit, sincerity and simplicity. 

Keroncong Moritsku (Ukulele) is a traditional harmonious song played by an orchestra of instruments. In this present painting, Kerton shares a sentimental love for traditional folk, recalling memories of forgotten traditions and pastimes. By purposely applying warm tones, the artist expresses the soulful and lyrical ambiance of the stage. The performers are passionately singing and playing the instruments, depicting the way the rakyat kecil finds happiness. The artist has found a way of bringing people together that is simple, yet profoundly meaningful too. Throughout his oeuvre, Sudjana Kerton expressed this importance of community, and having a sense of humor, no matter what the challenges may be.

1 Rizki Akhmad Zaelani (Edition I), Nationalism and Its Transformation – Reflection on Works of Sudjana Kerton, Bandung, p. 141 -142