Indonesian (1907 - 1990)

Strongly resistant to idealistic portrayals of the Mooi Indies, Affandi (1907 – 1990) is renowned for his commitment to honest expression. Rather than advocating a particular social ideology, he constantly challenged himself to depict the candid, everyday life of Indonesian people. This dedication was in line with his co-founding of Sanggar Pelukis Rakyat (People’s Painter Studio) in 1947, which encouraged members to pursue their ideas of authenticity in artmaking. With his unguarded style and bold subject matter, the Cirebon-born artist was one of Indonesia’s leading expressionist painters in the mid-20th century.

A manifestation of energetic lines and loose brushwork, Affandi’s artistic manner is recognised for its expressive tension. With techniques such as applying paint directly from the tube, his spontaneous and curvilinear markings culminated in a fiercely dynamic sense of movement. The artist painted with immediacy and often completed an entire work in one sitting. Utilising a non-naturalistic colour palette, he illustrated a variety of Indonesian subjects such as fishing boats, dogs, markets, Balinese dancers and more.

Affandi travelled significantly throughout his artistic career. Having received a grant from the Indian government, he went to India and painted there from 1949 to 1951. Thereafter, he journeyed to Europe and exhibited his work at major cities such as Paris, London, Rome and Brussels. Many organisations also acknowledged his influence in the art world. Apart from being appointed as an Honorary Professor in Painting by Ohio State University in Columbus, he also received an honorary doctorate from the National University of Singapore in 1974 and the International Peace Award from the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation in 1977.

A portrait of Affandi


1907 Born in Cirebon, West Java, Indonesia
1943 Serves as chairman of the Cultural Section in Poetera (The People’s Power Centre), an organisation formed by the Japanese government consisting of Indonesian’s intellects
1945 Paints propaganda posters against the Dutch occupation, alongside Soedjojono, Dullah, Trubus and Chairil Anwar
1947 Moves to Yogyakarta
Co-finds the Sanggar Pelukis Rakyat (People’s Painter Studio) together with Hendra Gunawan
1948 Receives a scholarship from the government of India to study art at Academy Tagore, Shantiniketan, West Bengal, India
Travels extensively in India and exhibits at Shantiniketan, Alahabat, New Delhi, Bombay, and Madras
1952 Travels around Europe
1957 Receives scholarship from the government of the United States of America (USA) to study art in the USA
1962 Appointed as a visiting professor in the Art Department of Ohio State University
Moves to Yogyakarta
1969 Receives the Anugerah Seni (Art Award) and Gold Medal Merit Award by the Ministry of Culture and Education in Indonesia
Receives Honorary Life Membership of the Jakarta Academy
Serves as chairman of IAPA (International Association of Plastic Arts) for Indonesia
1973 Represents Indonesia at the Biennial Exhibition in Sydney, Australia
1974 Receives Honorary Doctorate degree from the University of Singapore
1977 Receives the International Peace Award from the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation
Becomes a member of the Human Rights Academy from the Central Academy of Peace, Pax Mundi, in Florence, Italy
Makes the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca, at the invitation from the King
1978 Receives the Bintang Jasa Utama (Star of Service) from President Soeharto for his outstanding contributions to the nation
1990 Passes away on 23 May

1999 Modern Artist Affandi, The Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka Japan
1987 Retrospective Exhibition, Gedung Pameran Seni Rupa, Jakarta
1986 Solo Exhibition, Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM), Jakarta
1984 Solo Exhibition, Indonesian Arts and Handicrafts Festival, Houston, Texas, United States
1943 First Solo Exhibition, Gedoeng Peotera, Jakarta
1957 Solo Exhibition, World House Galleries, New York Press Club, USA

2018 Mooi Indie to Indonesian Modern Art, Art 1: New Museum, Jakarta, Indonesia
Re-collect: The Making of Our Art Collection, National Gallery Singapore, Singapore
2017 Postwar Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945–1965, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany
2015 Indonesian Art in the Twentieth and Early Twenty-First Century, Art 1: New Museum, Jakarta, Indonesia
2000 Southeast Asian Paintings: Visions and Enchantment, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
1998 Collection Exhibition Series Imaging Selves, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
1997 The Birth of Modern Art in Southeast Asia: Artists and Movements in Japan, Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan
1995 Asian Modernism, travelling exhibition organised by The Japan Foundation, Japan
1993 Asia-Pacific Triennial, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
1990 Joint Exhibition, organised by Kebudayaan Indonesia di Amerika Serikat (KIAS, Indonesian Culture in the United States), USA
Affandi in America, Indonesian Festival, Washington DC, USA
1990 Joint Exhibition, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC, USA
Joint exhibition of Affandi and Vincent Van Gogh, Museum Affandi, Yogyakarta, Taman Budaya Semarang and Braga Art Gallery, Bandung, Indonesia
1986 Group Exhibition, Pasar Seni Jaya Ancol Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia
1985 Group Exhibition, Pasar Seni Jaya Ancol Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia
1970 Group Exhibition, Expo 1970, Osaka, Japan
1963 Group Exhibition, Press Club, New York City, USA
1954 Represents Indonesia at Venice Biennale, Italy
1953 Represents Indonesia at Saõ Paolo Biennale, Brazil