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An inimitable figure in the development of Indonesian abstract painting, Fadjar Sidik presented a new aesthetic proposition in the age of urbanisation and industrialisation. The Surabaya-born artist is best known for simple compositions that evoke the vibrant pulse and movement of changing nature.

Titled after his ground-breaking body of work ‘Space Dynamics’ (Dinamika Keruangan), the exhibition presents 15 paintings that trace Sidik's mature period from the 1970s to the early 2000s.

“In the 1950s, what shook my feelings was the national revolution and humanism. So I fought vigorously and emotionally to portray people’s lives, and sought Indonesian forms. But in the last 30 years, there has been a new, more powerful dynamic that moved me, it is the melancholy that originates from industrialisation...”
- Fadjar Sidik

Fadjar Sidik Space Dynamic in Yellow 1978
Fadjar Sidik
Space Dynamic in Yellow, 1978
oil on canvas
95 x 65 cm

'Pameran Seni Lukis Modern Indonesia di Belanda' (Indonesian Modern Painting Exhibition in the Netherlands), Gedung Pameran Seni Rupa Depdikbud (Ministry of Education and Culture Exhibition Building), Jakarta, 1993

Synthesising the universal language of geometric shapes and traditional Indonesian aesthetics, Sidik's abstract canvases feature irregular patterns found in hand-drawn batik, script-like marks that recall Islamic calligraphy, as well as interlocking grids that resemble tikar weavings. While colour and form may vary across the series, negative space is a critical element in his paintings, with tension being maintained among floating shapes and formations.


Fadjar Sidik Komposisi Bentuk 1970s
Fadjar Sidik
Komposisi Bentuk, 1970s
oil on canvas
65 x 65 cm

What looks like drawn outlines in his composition are in fact colours from the underpainting peeking through. More than simply adapting the repetitive patterns in batik, Sidik's technique of building layers mimics the effect of wax-resist method used to create the textile.

As inventive explorations of space, these works emphasise a sense of rhythmic dynamism, a bedrock throughout the artist’s stylistic evolution. For him, the serial reconfiguration of basic shapes was a gesture towards the pursuit of harmony, at a time when modernisation was sweeping through the newly independent Indonesia.  


Fadjar Sidik Metropole and Sangkala 1991
Fadjar Sidik
Metropole and Sangkala, 1991
oil on canvas
90 x 70 cm

After more than two decades of working in an abstract mode, Sidik began remixing the forms and motifs from earlier paintings. This work from 1991 features the interlocking grids in his 'Metropole' paintings and the starburst forms in his 'Sangkala' series. The shapes are arranged in a manner which suggests a landscape, possibly of terrace plantations and rice paddies.


Fadjar Sidik Dinamika Banteng and Burung Dynamics with Bull and Bird 1990
Fadjar Sidik
Dinamika Banteng & Burung
(Dynamics with Bull and Bird)
, 1990

oil on canvas
95 x 65 cm

Sidik was notably reticent when it came to offering an interpretation for his images, claiming that they are derived from his subconscious. In 'Dinamika Banteng & Burung', the central lattice form is crowned with a pair of horns. Is this a picture of a bull or an abstract composition? The painting evokes seminal works by Theo van Doesburg and Pablo Picasso that use the animal as a motif to explore radical reduction in form.

Within the narrative of Indonesian modern art, Sidik was an anomaly that contradicted the Yogyakarta-Bandung polemic. Unlike his Yogyakarta peers who pursued in realism and nationalist subjects, Sidik defied expectations and shifted from expressive representation to a purely abstract idiom in the early 1960s. In response to the changing social environment, he turned inwards to create works that reflected his emotional impulses and inner thoughts. This unique process also sets Sidik apart from Bandung school contemporaries, who were predominantly driven by formalist questions and Western theory at that time.


Fadjar Sidik, Evening Sangkala, 1990s
Fadjar Sidik
Evening Sangkala, 1990s

oil on canvas
62 x 62 cm

Aming Prayitno, Fadjar Sidik and S.M. Subroto at Sidik’s house at Kauman, Yogyakarta, 1969. Image courtesy of S.M. Subroto.
Evening Sangkala is an evolution of an earlier work photographed with Aming Prayitno, Fadjar Sidik and S.M. Subroto at Sidik’s house at Kauman, Yogyakarta, 1969.
Image courtesy of S.M. Subroto.


Fadjar Sidik, Sangkala, 1990s
Fadjar Sidik
Sangkala, 1990s
oil on canvas
90 x 70 cm

As a forty year-long exploration, 'Space Dynamics' evidence Sidik's commitment to developing a unique visual language. For him, abstraction is not simply a reduction of observed reality, but rather a critical device to weave profound connections between non-objective painting, textile art, Islamic geometry and design principles. There is a universal quality in the graphic simplicity of his paintings, which share an affinity with avant-garde artists of the early 20th century. Through a sensitive infusion of Indonesian aesthetics and spirituality, Sidik made his intervention into this history.

Fadjar Sidik: Expressive Design, published by Art Agenda, S.E.A. and Asia Art Center, 2020

ISBN: 978-981-14-4603-0
(paper back, 255 pages)
NTD 3,000  |  SGD 135  | IDR 1,380,000
Learn more about  Fadjar Sidik
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