Srihadi Soedarsono

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Srihadi Soedarsono’s (1931–2022) long, prolific career in the artistic world has been recognised with numerous awards, including Arts Award from the Republic of Indonesia in 1971, a Cultural Award from the Government of Australia in 1973, a Fulbright Grant from the United States Government in 1980 and the silver prize at the Seoul International Art Competition in 1985. In February 2016, his work was on display at the National Gallery of Indonesia in Jakarta. Entitled 70 Tahun Rentang Kembara Roso (70-Year Span of Roso’s Journey), the show was not only Srihadi’s solo exhibition but also a documentation of modern Indonesian art history and the artist’s creativity and versatility that last over seven decades.

Srihadi began to work on the idea of the horizon after his return from his studies in America in the early 1960’s, developing his now familiar compositional template for horizon paintings – which is to say the division of the canvas into two distinct planes, each representing respectively, the earth and the sky. These images remind us of Srihadi’s sensitivity and skill with compositional, tonal and textural subtleties. These are lyrical, meditative pieces, invoking imageries of natural expanse and constancy.

In Srihadi’s aesthetics, the horizon instigates contrast as a formal and compositional motif, through which the principals of harmony are established. The concept of duality carries significance in Javanese culture – it is significant that duality to the Javanese mind is not a concept of antithesis and opposition; rather, it reflects the symbiosis of polaric natures. In Srihadi’s horizon paintings, duality is played out on a number of levels: in the balance of corporeal states between the elements of the earth and the sky, which the horizon divides into key distinct elements of distinction in nature; and on the symbolic level, in the representation of the principals of order in the metaphysical macro-cosmos, through the balance struck in the representation of the micro-cosmos of physical nature.

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