Artist : Abas Alibasyah
Year : 1969
Oil on canvas.
Dimension : 100 x 66 cms.
In 1960’s Abbas Alibasyah was among those painters engaged in a renewal with the abstractions in his paintings. Such a perspective towards objects was motivated by the sociocultural changes that was becoming prevalent in Indonesia at the time. Modernisation was the spirit of the era and became the new myth in late 1960’s until early 1970’s, and the Yogyakarta art habitat, still dominated by various forms of ‘populist aesthetic’ paradigm, was no exception. The response to modernisation in art – aside from promoting change towards simplification, conceptualisation, and abstraction – also represented a struggle of defending the value of Indonesia-ness from incursions of the Western culture. Alibasyah did both. Along with several other Yogya pioneers, Alibasyah absorbed the spirit of modernisation and applied the basic geometric patterns in the abstraction of objects. In addition to that, he continued to explore new visual vocabulary of tradition in the objects of his paintings.
In the painting entitled “Garuda” (1969), he applied the basic geometric patterns to abstract the very dominant bird form. It became unique because the deformation of the Garuda shape is taken to such extent that expressing the various visual elements became more important than the object itself. Red with a gradation to violet and orange become a strong expressive background. The bird shape appeared through a construction of a plane fragment of yellow and green, tied with a rough texture and strokes to give it primitive air. This painting, like other works of Alibasyah at the time, was also influenced by visual sources from the various ethnic sculptures of Nusantara (The Archipelago). His aesthetic stance is a clear manifestation of the struggle to maintain indigenous values against the onslaught of Western culture wrapped within the modernist euphoria of the time.