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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Basuki Abdullah

Diponegoro led the Battle, Basuki Abdullah
Although it seems as if I've written about artists from virtually every country on earth, from time to time I come to the realization I've missed a few. So far as I can recall, I've never written about an artist from Lichtenstein (other than Roy), Bolivia, Morocco, Algeria, Botswana, or Indonesia, to name just a few. Today, I came upon an artist named Basuki Abdullah (there are two or three different spellings of that name, by the way). Mr. Abdullah was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. He was born Islamic in 1915 but converted to Catholicism as a young man. His image of a desert fighter (above) with a crucifix firmly lodged behind his belt is symbolic of this dual cultural and religious heritage.

Basuki Abdullah
Abdullah received formal art training in Europe at The Hague during the 1930s. In returning home amid the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, Abdullah found work as an art teacher. Following the war, he became known internationally, after winning an art competition on the occasion of the accession of Queen Juliana to the throne of the Netherlands.

Abdullah's official portrait of the first President of Indonesia,
Dr. Ir. Soekarno (above, right)--one of many.
Back to Nature,
Basuki Abdullah
Basuki Abdullah
Basuki Abdullah's status as the most famous Indonesian artist of his time provided him an oppor-tunity to paint the official portrait (above, lower-right) of President Ir. Soekarno (Suharto). However, quite apart from his presidential portraits, Abdullah is probably best known for his lovely female por-traits. His artistic talent comes from his father, Abdullah Suryo Subrata, who was also a painter and dan-cer. The artist's grandfather was prominent in the national revival movement in Indonesia in the early 1900's. Since the age of four years Basuki Abdullah was fond of paint-ing. At an early age, his portraits of well-known figures included Mahat-ma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Jesus Christ and Krishnamurti. Lat-er in life he added such luminaries as Mother Theresa, his country's first president and various visiting dignitaries.

Abdullah was also noted for his striking naturalism
of his wildlife paintings.
Mother Theresa, Basuki Abdullah
As is the case in most small countries such as Indonesia, a successful artist must be versatile. Abdullah's wildlife paintings (above) and his many mildly erotic female nudes (below) bear witness to an artist who, though specializing in portraits, is similarly adept in many other genres. His landscape, Coast of Flores (bottom) adds yet another indication of the depth and breadth of Abdullah's painting talent. Basuki Abdullah met a tragic death in November, 1993 when he was beaten to death by thieves who broke into his Jakarta studio. Today, a broad selection of Abdullah's work including statues, masks, puppets, and weapons can be found in the Basuki Abdullah Museum located in South Jakarta, Indonesia.

Nudity, Basuki Abdullah
Coast of Flores, Basuki Abdullah

Bad Boy, Basuki Abdullah


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