An influential figure in the course of Indonesian abstraction, Umi Dachlan
(1942-2009) is known for her distinct iconography of organic colour blocks lined with maroon and gold accents. The Bandung-trained artist drew inspiration from Islamic philosophy, the natural landscape and music. The influence of Ahmad Sadali (1924-1987), her teacher at Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), demonstrated itself in the two’s affinity for depicting the divine on canvas. While her earlier works were more spontaneous, Umi Dachlan gradually saw artmaking as a slow, contemplative process.
Reflecting the worldview of the Islamic faith, Umi Dachlan also saw the natural environment as God’s creations. This view compelled her unique technique of faint scratching and layering of oils, which culminated in immaculate surface textures mimicking the earth and rocks. Her varied tones of terracotta, violet and maroon imitated the colours of the earth, while her trademark use of gold seamlessly linked experiences of both the natural and divine. With these unique approaches, her works undoubtedly command a sense of timelessness.
Umi Dachlan’s works have been displayed in an impressive number of group exhibitions across countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. This exposure existed despite the artist being one of the few female Indonesian abstract painters at the time, as demonstrated by her being ITB’s third female graduate in 1968 and first female lecturer in 1969. Indeed, the artist had a place amongst the new generation of modern Indonesian artists, alongside Popo Iskandar
, Fadjar Sidik