(Abdullah Family Series) Soedjono Abdullah - Romanticism in Lanscape Painting

Soedjono Abdullah (1911 - 1993)
Soedjono Abdullah was born in Yogyakarta on August 31, 1911 from a very talented artist family. His father, the famous landscape painter Abdullah Suriosubroto was the first Indonesian who graduated from the Academy of Fine Art in Amsterdam Holland during the Dutch colonial era. His younger brother Basuki Abdullah was also a well known painter with international reputation while Tridjata, his sister devoted her professional actualization in sculpting. It was Soedjono’s father, who gave his son early artistic training, including guidances in Barbizon style panoramic painting.

After finishing school, Soedjono worked as a poster maker for several advertisement agencies besides working on painting commissioned by his admirers. Due to the gifted skill in depicting or even beautifying the panoramic scenery on his canvas, he was often considered as a romanticism artist like his younger brother Basuki Abdullah. As he could perhaps be classified as one of “Mooi Indies (lit. Hindia Molek or beautiful Hindia)” genre painters, most of his painting’s objects were characterized stylishly with the aesthetic favors romantic, naturalistic landscape, hazy morning, given preference for scene of green mountain, shimmering reflection of sky fondling with the golden sunshine shining above green paddy field, etc. That “Mooi Indies” style indeed tended to portray country areas with emphasis on iconographies of three elements: mountain, paddy field, and coconut tree.

The great painter Sudjojono indicated without specifically mentioned the names that those “Mooi Indies” painters would be:
1. Foreign, particularly Dutch colonial painters, who live only 2-3 years in Indonesia
2. Those who were money-oriented artists.
3. Local painters who imitate European second-grade painters who were technically sound but did not know whatever they were doing

But rough description of “Mooi Indies” character might or might not be found in Soedjono Abdullah depends on the angle we capture. Soedjono didn’t stop in traditional themes of those “Mooi Indies” objects; he was also very fond in expressing the people's day to day activities in rural areas, such as busy traditional market under the bright red flowered flamboyant tree, or the farmers harvesting their rice field, or the fishermen and their boat on sea and so on; of course without leaving behind the beauty. That’s why although on several paintings he depicted the circumstances of which in actual conditions they might be perceived as “hard-work”, Soedjono had never accentuated that struggle on to his canvas. All those kinds of sweaty work in which farmer plowing his paddy field, or fishermen going off-shore to catch up fishes, they would’ve never been described by Soedjono in that sense.

But Soedjono did never get bothered with all comments or debates of “Mooi Indies” things attributable to him directly or indirectly. He was consistent with his painting style and nothing changed. In fact, when he left Yogyakarta and moved to Salatiga, he had to also endure the difficult era of Japanese occupation in Parangtritis like others. Soedjono Abdullah evolved to become well known for his genre scenes of Javanese life and culture, and also for his romanticized landscapes.

In his old age Soedjono settled down in Kertosono; a small town in East Java, and retreated himself from the uproarious art stage in new era. He passed away there peacefully in July 1993.

Painter : S. Abdullah
Subject/ Title : Mountain Landscape
Dimension : 71 X 139 cm
Media : oil on canvas
Signature & remarks : undated, signed lower left: “S. Abdullah”.
History/ provenance
of painting : authentic with no COA or provenance shall be provided. The present owner acquired the painting from a prominent auction house.
Condition : Good & well preserved, it’s ready to hang in good shape.