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.