A quick study of Indonesia Paintings

A quick study of Indonesia Paintings

Indonesia, just like India, is a land where several religions, faiths, cultures and traditions flourished in the past. Though it’s the largest Islamic country in the world, its art, architecture and paintings have been influenced by Hinduism, Buddhism and more recently, Islam. Therefore, the confluence of various world religions gave rise to unique forms of Indonesian Paintings; the influence of some local cultures offered more variety in styles.

Indonesian paintings, initially, were a result of Hindu–Buddhist influence, and later were impacted by India from the 1st century CE onward. Buddhism grew under the Sailendra dynasty of the Sri Vijaya Empire (8th – 13th century AD), and so did the Buddhist art. Between the 8th and 10th centuries AD, several relief sculptures or free-standing statues were brought into temples in Java and Bali cities of Indonesia. They are marked by their detailing and still expression.

Indonesian paintings was kind of restrictive before the 19th century as only decorative arts was allowed, mostly regarded as a religious and spiritual activity. On the long houses of the Kenyah people of Borneo, one can find mural paintings with natural motifs like hornbills and ferns that are rife.

There is a tradition in Balinese painting that makes use of narrative imagery to show scenes from Balinese legends, folklores and religious scripts. You can find these paintings mostly on the ceilings of Balinese temples and in palm-leaf manuscripts. The impact of the Dutch colonial power during the 19th century is such that it gave rise to Western-style painting. Raden Saleh (1807–1877) was a famous indigenous Indonesian painter of the 19th century who was educated in Europe and strongly influenced by the Romanticism.

Though this article covers only a brief study of the Indonesian paintings, we will follow it up with a detailed history of the Indonesian Arts in a separate post.