Theory — 30 Jun 2018

€ 50 (incl. museum entrance, lunch and a course reader)
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Studio A
30 Jun 2018, 11 am until 4 pm
Main language

“We are the legitimate heirs to world culture, and we are furthering this culture in our own ways.” With this sentence a group of Indonesian writers, led by Asrul Sani, announced a Statement of Beliefs (Surat Kepercayaan) in the Cultural Section (titled Gelanggang, “Forum”) of the popular magazine Siatat (Strategy) on 18 February 1950. The Statement of Faith describes the confidence with which Indonesian writers and artists see their important role in developing a ‘world culture’ shortly after the United Nation’s recognition of the Republic of the United States of Indonesia (Republik Indonesia Serikat, RIS) in December 1949. This recognition marked the end of the Indonesian National Revolution (or Indonesian War of Independence) that was fought against the Dutch colonizers: from the Declaration of Independence on 17 August 1945 until 27 December 1949, when the Netherlands officially transferred sovereignty to the Republic of Indonesia.


The 1950 Surat Kepercayaan (Statement of Beliefs) will serve as a guideline during this one-day summer school on Culture, History and Historiographies in Indonesian Art. The course will provide an introduction to Indonesian art, leading from the founding of the Union of Indonesian Painters (or, rather ‘Indonesian Drawers’) – PERSAGI (Persatuan Ahli-Ahli Gambar Indonesia), founded 1938 by Sindudarsono Sudjojono and Agus Djaya – up to the Indonesian New Art Movement (Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru Indonesia), starting in the mid-1970s. The course will not be limited to a particular history of Indonesian modern art, but will rather be built across a set of histories, methodologies and foremost, historiographies. These will help us introduce discourses and practices of Indonesian art in relation to world art and world culture, as well as drawing specific attention to an Indonesian art history and historiography of Indonesian Art.

One aspect that will be highlighted is the relationship between art, culture and belief (faith). Modern art and the field of modern art history have a tendency to focus on the social and political history of art in relation to culture. Thus, we speak of modern Indonesian art in relation to the modern Indonesian nation-state and the founding of the Republic of Indonesia. From the mid-19th century Javanese painter Raden Saleh (1811-1881) who left Java to study painting in Europe, to the painter Sindudarsono Sudjojono (1913-1986) critiquing the colonial art system and advocating an Indonesian modern art for Indonesia in the 20th century – Indonesian art is inextricably tied to the Indonesian nation.

Agoes Djaya, New Year greeting from Agoes and Otto Djaya to Sandberg from Paris, 1947. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

This summer school aims to provide some deeper context to our knowledge and understanding of Indonesian art, by introducing a reader, set of presentations and discussions on the theme of “Culture, History and Historiography in Indonesian Art”. We look forward to welcoming you and invite you to join our search for a deeper understanding of Indonesian art.


Aminudin TH Siregar is a Lecturer in Indonesian Art History and Art Critic at the Faculty of Art and Design, Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB), Indonesia. Siregar completed his BA in Graphic Art and his MA with a thesis entitled Discursive Analysis of Modern Indonesian Art (2006) at ITB. Since 1999 he works as a curator and critic. His first book Blup Art!, published in 1999, was followed by New Art- After Non-Representational Painting in Bandung (2004) and Sang Ahli Gambar: Sketsa, Gambar & Pemikiran S. Sudjojono (2010). He edited Modern Oblique: Mysticism, Shamanism in Indonesian Contemporary Art (2005) and Indonesian Modern Art: An Essay Compilation (2006). Siregar received the Asian Cultural Council’s grant in New York (2002) and conducted research on Indonesian Art during Japanese Occupation (Keimin Bunka Shidosho) at Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (FAAM, 2008), Japan. Siregar is a Ph.D. Candidate in Area Studies at Leiden University, The Netherlands.

Thomas J. Berghuis is an independent curator and art historian, currently working as a part-time lecturer with the University of Amsterdam. Berghuis has an MA in Chinese Studies at Leiden University (1999); an Advanced Masters Diploma from the (former) CNWS, Research School of Asia, African and Amerindian Studies, Leiden (2001); and a PhD in Asian Art History at the University of Sydney (2006). Prior to his work in the Netherlands, Berghuis was a Lecturer in Asian Art History at the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia (2008-2013); The Robert H. N. Ho Curator of Chinese Art at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, USA (2013-2015); and Founding Director of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Museum MACAN) in Jakarta, Indonesia (2015-2016). Berghuis’ research focuses on art in China and Indonesia. Berghuis’ writing has been published in leading academic journals including positions east asia cultures critique; Third Text; The Journal of Visual Art Practice; and Theory, Culture & Society. Berghuis is a Principal Fellow (Honorary) with the University of Melbourne, Australia.