Across his series, the works of Fadjar Sidik (1930-2004) were responses to Indonesia’s increasingly modern environment, which was embarking on a new age of industrialisation at the time. This influx of technology was translated onto his canvases as highly graphic, geometric abstractions. Unlike his Yogyakarta peers’ pursuit in realist paintings, the Surabaya-born artist presented a new aesthetic proposition in the age of machinery, which cemented his irreplaceable contribution to the development of modern abstract art in Indonesia.
Equally important, Sidik’s work occupied a nuanced position between the modern and traditional world. He achieved this by allowing elements from traditional art forms to influence his abstract compositions. These elements included batik’s wax-resist method, as well as visual forms reminiscent of tikar weavings and Islamic calligraphy. With such features, his works drew profound connections between universal geometric shapes and his Indonesian identity.
In 1947, Sidik joined the social realist group Sanggar Pelukis Rakyat (The People’s Painters) under the tutelage of Indonesian masters Hendra Gunawan (1918-1983). With their emphasis on making art for the people, the group influenced his vision to create works that would look beautiful alongside everyday objects. Today, his works are collected by key Southeast Asian art institutions, including the National Gallery Indonesia, National Gallery Singapore, Neka Art Museum and the OHD Museum.