Indonesia Arts and Architecture

Indo-Buddhist art

Culture since the first centuries after ChristIndiana radiated towards the Indonesia, but the earliest monumental remains documenting this close relationship date back to the 7th century. From this era until the prevailing Islamic religion (15th century), the Indonesian archipelago (with the exception of Bali), together with the artistic manifestations of ethnological interest, produces a profoundly Indianized art as a religious spirit, building typology, iconographic symbolism, but at the same time typically autonomous in the sobriety and harmony of the proportions, in the inventive richness and in the love for natural representations. It is a gradual evolution that can be divided into two periods: that of Central Java or Indo-Javanese (7-10th century) and that of Eastern Java (10th-18th century), in which they move both the artistic production of Sumatra and that of Bali. For Indonesia 2012, please check

In Bali, Hindu art, continued until today, allows an examination of the wooden religious buildings ( meru ), paintings and other artifacts in perishable material that have disappeared elsewhere. It is the Śailendra dynasty (7th-9th century AD), Buddhists, to give a great impetus to religious constructions in the central Java area, even if there is no lack of Hindu temples at this time (Dieng plateau). Square plan that sometimes, due to the forepart in the middle of the sides, can become a Greek cross, raised to overlapping degrading floors, arches and models of the same building used for decorative purposes distinguish the sanctuaries (candi) erected in this era (candi Pawon, Mendut, Kalasan, Barabuḍur, Sewu) and largely inspired by the Indian ones of Mahabalipuram. Often the stūpas, in the bell-shaped dome surmounted by a slender terminal element and placed on a cylindrical drum, recall those of Ceylon. Moldings and cornices accentuate the horizontal scans, the sculptural ornamentation has a strong sense of compositional balance and luministic contrast. To the phytomorphic and zoomorphic decoration of the Indian type (garlands, foliage, kāla, makara) are added elements derived from Indonesian flora and fauna. The human figures, despite the softness of the pose taken from Indian styles (by Amarāvati, Gupta, post-Gupta and then Pāla and Sena), have something idealized, with a keen sense of harmony of proportions (Bimgin’s Lokeśvara, Jakarta museum; statues found in Borneo and Sumatra; bas-reliefs from Barabuḍur).

The monuments built in the eastern region of Java after the abandonment of the central one (Eastern Java period) retain the previous style, albeit with many innovations. Hindu cultic buildings prevail, often funerary (candi Kidal, candi Jago, candi Singhasāri); fired brick is used and there is a development in height and a smaller projection of the horizontal scans (complex of Panataram, candi Saventar, candi Jabung in Java; complex of Muara Jambi, Muara Takus, of Padang Lawas in Sumatra). The sacred pools have a new relief (royal pools of Jalatunda, of Belahan, of the candi Tikus); new types of openings appear: the ‘cut’ doors and those covered by a canopy also present in the later production of Bali (temples of Sangsit, Bangli, Batur, Kesiman). In the sculptures some Indian ornamental elements disappear (makara) and local elements prevail. A greater animation of attitudes appears (dancing Herukā of Bahal II, base of the sanctuary of Pulo, Sumatra), a sometimes terrifying hardness in the faces ( Rākṣasa near the entrance of the temples; Bhairava of the Leiden museum) and greater prominence is given to the landscape, perhaps also due to Chinese influence.

Islamic art

Islam, which spread from the 15th century, rigidly aniconic, makes the decoration with human figures disappear, but retains Indo-Buddhist types of ornamentation and architectural elements (Kudus minaret, Sendang Duwur mosque). The mosques and royal palaces (kraton), made of wood, maintain the local typologies (kraton of Diokjakarta and Surakarta) that are found in the contemporary Hindu architecture of Bali. Minor arts flourish: sculptures and wooden bas-reliefs, metal objects and weapons (kris), fabrics (ikat, batik), shadow theater puppets (wayang kulit), which, together with the phytomorphic types and decorative motifs and the typically indigenous stylization, show the presence of ancient Indo-Buddhist motifs (lotus flower, Garuḍa) and Chinese (phoenix, cloud profiles), with a survival of the decorations already used in prehistoric times (Dong-son spirals).

The European influence

Although since the beginning of the 17th century. the Dutch have set their bases in Java and built a city, Batavia (Jakarta), on the European model, initially the European artistic influences are not relevant (baroque elements in some wooden sculptures of Java, ikat decoration from Sumba, kris handles from Madura). In the sec. 19 ° and 20 ° we are witnessing a revival, under the Western influence, of the art of Indonesia, especially of painting, which has been able to combine, in happy synthesis, the local sensitivity to volume, color, harmony of the composition with the western contribution. In the 19th century. the painter R. Saleh (Sjarif Bustaman), following the teachings of the Dutch Payen, was inspired by romanticism; subsequently Abdullah and Wakidi played the typical, in a minor tonelandscape of Indonesia. With S. Sudjojono, founder (1937) of the first Indonesian artistic association (“Persagi”), true creative autonomy is achieved. K. Affandi, Rusli, O. Affandi are painters known for having uniquely combined modern Western ways with ancient local tradition.

In architecture, in which the most modern international trends have established themselves (urban reorganization of Jakarta and Bandung), we have tried to preserve, especially in the interiors, the interest in detail, in structural harmony, in consonance with the traditional Indonesian taste.

Indonesia Arts

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