The place of art in Indonesian culture - Azimuth Adventure Travel Ltd
The place of art in Indonesian culture

The place of art in Indonesian culture

Mar 15 2024

Indonesia is a country with a rich and immense culture. An archipelago of varied ethnic groups, beliefs and customs, it is full of things to see and discover. The image of traditional dances celebrating Java's Hindu-Buddhist historical past, gamelan shows or even the refined architecture of Balinese temples suddenly comes to mind. The result of numerous influences, particularly due to its central place in international trade, Indonesian culture remains a delicate blend of Chinese, Indian, Arab and European inspirations.


Indonesian art, the fruit of a rich historical past


  The place of art in Indonesian culture  


From a historical point of view, several artistic forms have succeeded one another in Indonesia over the centuries. Let us refer in particular to the rock art found in prehistoric caves in Sulawesi. The temples of Borobudur and Prambanan in Java are also grandiose testimonies to the influence of ancient Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms. The Islamic art of Aceh, for its part, pays homage to the Muslim culture which has governed Indonesian society for several centuries.


Indonesian craftsmanship therefore remains rich, refined and of very high quality. Textiles, including the famous batiks and ikats, wood sculptures, pottery, masks and puppets are some examples of the breadth of knowledge and talent of the archipelago's artisans.


Gastronomy, architecture, painting, artistic performances and even literature, Indonesian artists brilliantly cover many fields. The international influence of Indonesian art is therefore immense. Java is, for example, recognized for its traditional crafts, its dance, theater and music shows. How can we not think of Yogyakarta, the cultural and artistic capital of the island?


For its part, Bali displays an artistic status of the same magnitude and becomes a showcase of Indonesian culture during the 20th century. Thus, Balinese paintings remain a strong symbol of the influence of the Island of the Gods on the rest of the archipelago. Formerly, these were restricted to the Kamasan and Wayang styles inspired by the great Indian epics and other Javanese legends.


Like Tahiti for Paul Gauguin, Bali gradually became an artistic refuge for many foreign personalities. It therefore welcomes many renowned artists, such as the Australian Donald Friend, the German Walter Spied and the Dutch Audolf Bonnet. Influenced by Balinese exoticism, the painters find their inspiration in the baroque style and tropical and colorful themes. Also, the cities of Ubud and Butuan are gaining considerable importance on the island. The first remains the artistic capital of Bali.


The place of Indonesian art today


  The place of art in Indonesian culture  


Today, contemporary Indonesian artists continue to exhibit their works in national galleries and also abroad. However, current Indonesian contemporary art is the result of a fierce struggle by artists to have their talent and work recognized. Indeed, in the 1970s, a rebellion against artistic institutions emerged. Led by artists from Yogyakarta and Bandung, this revolt opposed the refined and traditional art promoted by the dogmas of the time. Also, artists had little choice in terms of artistic expression and therefore had to turn to decorative arts, painting or sculpture.


Under the Indonesian New Art Movement, many people began to openly criticize the art system. They thus accused him of perpetuating an elitist and highly Westernized form of art. This movement therefore wanted to establish a more accessible and democratic discipline. A precursor of contemporary art in Indonesia, artists claiming to be New Art then began to exhibit their works in new forms: photography, installations, realistic paintings, exhibition of objects, etc.


Some are very famous in Indonesia today, such as Dede Eri Supria or Hardi. Contemporary art has therefore gradually become more popular in the rest of Indonesia. Events have been created to allow new artists to share their world and their works. This is the case, for example, of the Art Jog festival taking place every year in Yogyakarta. It thus brings together the work of Indonesian and international artists.


Street artists also expose their talent for all to see, notably by developing street art in certain Indonesian regions. To also help spread Indonesian artistic culture, many museums are open to the public. We also recommend that you take a trip to those in Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Ubud.


Contemporary or traditional art, there is ultimately something for everyone!


Some art museums in Indonesia


To learn more about Indonesian art and its evolution, here are some museums worth a visit:


  • Museum Sana Budaya, Yogyakarta
  • Museum Bentara Budaya, Jakarta
  • Bali Museum, Denpasar
  • Museum Puri Lukisan, Neka Art Museum, Musuem Rudana and Agung Rai Museum of Art, in Ubud.


Now that you have more information about Indonesian art, it's time to go and discover it all for yourself!


I am Alice from "Azimuth Adventure Travel Ltd". Send us your request, and we will answer you within 48 hours.
Call us at
+62 (0)812.269.06.59 (WhatsApp)