Painting : World of Cows (Sudiardjo - 1917)

Title : "World of Cows"

Artist : Sudiardjo

Year : 1917

Oil on canvas.

Dimension : 95 x 125 cms.

The painting entitled “Dunia Sapi” depicts a unique landscape with three cows, a chicken and a tree in rather suprising proportions. Smoky mountains in the backrgound with a fantastic sky, and a white moon accentuating the landscape, especially with the white cow in the middle. This painting, done in a naïve Expressionist style, reflects the stillness of Sudiardjo’s spiritual realm, a Persagi painter who was gaining more freedom in exploring his individuality.

In the history of Indonesian modern paintings, the ‘Persatuan Ahli Gambar Indonesia’ (Union of Drawing Masters, Persagi) appeared with the credo of seeking new aesthetics of Indonesian paintings. The credo, which evolved into an aesthetic paradigm, is based on the appreciation of reality originating in nationalism and populist life values. The painters of Persagi school would then embark on their life experience exploration by ridding themselves of all forms of exotic romanticising of beauty as espoused by Mooi Indie era painters before them. It manifested in their depiction of the various episodes and activities of people’s lives. It can be expressed in the depiction of an orang bawah (lower class) figure in an urban or rural milieu, the world of domestic animals, as well as popular performing arts and Indonesian ethnic artifacts.

“Dunia Sapi” reflects Sudiarjo’s appreciation of the domestic realm closest to his own reality. The naïve expression actually reflects the purity and depth of the appreciation of the values of modesty – a reality previously considered worthless in the framework of Romanticist aesthetics of the feudal colonial setting.