Indonesian (1926 - 1977)

Known for his ground-breaking sense of lyricism, West Sumatran born artist Zaini (1926-1977) created landscape paintings with non-naturalistic colours that were both subtle and inventive. Deeply embedded in the Jakarta and Yogyakarta artistic networks, he was appointed to lead the Institut Kesenian Jakarta (Jakarta Art Institute) in the 1970s, alongside his contemporaries Oesman Effendi and Nashar.

In the 1930s, Zaini spent his formative years under leading figures such as Wakidi, S. Sudjojono and Basoeki Abdullah. He later moved to Yogyakarta and joined the sanggar (studio), Pelukis Rakyat (People’s Painter) founded by Affandi and Hendra Gunawan. The group espoused the idea of art for the people, which strongly influenced Zaini’s expressionist paintings made in the 1950s to 1970s.

Despite the dominance of social realism during the early years of Indonesia’s independence, Zaini resisted against the prevailing conventions. Instead, he developed a unique style that focused on the relationship between colours, and imbued his landscapes with personal and cultural significance. Boats, mountains, and bodies of water are recurring motifs that allude to essential elements of Indonesian heritage and philosophy.
A portrait of Indonesian artist, Zaini


1926 Born in Pariaman, West Sumatra
1961 Studies at The Art Department, Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB)
1942 Studies under S. Sudjojono at Keimin Bunka Shidoso in Jakarta
1943 Studies painting technique from Basoeki Abdullah in Jakarta
1945 Moves to Yogyakarta, stayed at sanggar Seniman Masyarakat (People’s Artist) founded by Affandi
1946 Goes to Madiun and Solo to join the Seniman Indonesia Muda (SIM, Young Indonesian Painter) led by S. Sudjojono
1949 Returns to Jakarta and joins People’s Artist
Becomes committee member of the Pameran Seni Lukis Indonesia (Indonesian Fine Art Exhibition) held by Kementrian Penerangan RI (Ministry of Communication) with Affandi and Mochtar Apin
1953 Co-finds an Indonesian magazine published by Lembaga Kebudayaan Indonesia (Indonesian Cultural Institution) that became Badan Musyawarah Kebudayaan Nasional (BMKN, National Cultural Deliberation Board)
1956 Teaches painting at Balai Budaya Jakarta (Jakarta Cultural Center) and BMKN with Oesman Effendi and Nashar
1960 Co-founds Yayasan Seni and Desain Indonesia (Indonesian Art and Design Foundation) and Galeri Merdeka exhibition space in Jakarta
1966 Starts the historical magazine, Horison with Mochtar Lubis
1969 Becomes member of the Art Committee in Jakarta
1970 Establishes the Indonesian foundation at the 25th anniversary of the United Nations in New York with Trisno Sumardjo, art instructor at Institute Kesenian Jakarta (Art Institute in Jakarta)
1977 Passes away in Jakarta