Painting : Tjap Go Meh (Sindu Sudjojono - 1940)

Title : "Tjap Go Meh"

Artist : Sindu Sudjojono

Year : 1940

Oil on canvas

Dimension 73 x 51 cms

In the painting " "Di Depan Kelamboe Terboeka" ( In Front of the Open Curtain ), Sudjojono's expression is seen quiet but gloomy. In his painting "Tjap Go Meh", in 1940, he expressed his overflowing emotion. In the painting of the carnival of the Chinese religious celebration, besides expressing the crowded situation, it also expresses the ironic nuance. The irony many just be present in the carnival with the various overflowing but absurd emotion, yet it may be more than that, that is presenting the comment on the social defect. It reminds us about the social setting in the time when he made the painting. It was the time of the economic depression, the strong pressure of the colonial government on the nasionalists, and the euphoria before the Japanese arrival.

In the foreground, a woman dancing, is pulled by a man wearing a mask, and is between an ambtenar wearing a tie and a musician wearing a crocodille mask. On the right there is a dwarfish man standing erect and upset. In the background, there is a wave of mass people marching and dancing happily. Eventhough this painting is small, Sudjojono was really able to present  the credo "jiwo ketok" ( the visible soul ) in his painting. In the painting ""Tjap Go Meh", the spontanity is higly overflowing. The deformation of the mass people marching with the strong colours, supports the absurd expression.

During the period of Persagi and the Japan Occupation, Sudjojono attempted to realize the new Indonesian art of painting, he also stated it strongly through his writings and art works. He tried to reject the aesthetics of the art painting of Mooi Indie, that only expressed the beauty, charm, and exocitism. Through his national spirit, Sudjojono wanted the art of the Indonesian painting to remind us to be aware of the social reality faced by the people during the occupations. Besides, he wanted to introduce the new way to create the art of painting in the honest way and deep emphaty on the reality of life through the expressionism. The two problems he fought for, placed Sudjojono as the rebel to the aesthetic of "Mooi Indie" that was settled in the culture of the feudal colonial. The paintings of Sudjojono "Di Depan Kelamboe Terboeka" ( In Front of the Open Curtain ) and "Tjap Go Meh" implement his aesthetic fight containing the ethic moral of the contexttualism and nationalism. With his conscious capacity and art works he fought for, many observers placed Sudjojono as Bapak Seni Lukis Indonesia ( The Father of the Art of Painting in Indonesia )