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Case Study In Challenging Circumstances

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The South East Asian people were once considered by the world to be lacking inventiveness, long from the prehistoric times, and they were receptive instead of just being creative in their contacts with people from foreign civilizations. From there to the 1990s, the Asian art forms shifted to an explosion of biennials and triennials, showing a shift to the pluralist world. The Asian megacities of Taipei, Fukuoka, Yokohama, and Singapore were key in introducing Asian audiences to foreign art and that motivated them into pushing their own regions’ figures to the international forefront (Bruun & Kalland, 2014).

In the history of modern art in Indonesia, Affandi has been referred as being a towering figure. His paintings have often been seen displaying his different emotional responses towards the lives of the people who struggle moving out of poverty towards dignity. He was a self-taught artist, and his early works majorly included representations of animals, people, sun and even several self-portraits. He was often quoted as stating that the motif he knows and likes the best is that of his own face, even if it's ugly and reminds of the dwarf Sukrasana. He became affiliated with the artist group of Lima Bandung. He was working with the likes of Hendra Gunawan, Barli, Sudarso, and Wahdi. The group later went on to become hugely significant in the development of Indonesian modern art. After independence, he became completely involved in making different types of posters that were key in evoking the struggle of the Indonesian people in opposition to the Dutch colonialism (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2017). In his early 1950s, his works saw a breakthrough and he started squeezing paint directly from the tube. The resultant paintings showed affinity with the works of Van Gogh and were noticeably expressionistic and expressively resonant. His spontaneous squeezing paint method very soon became an essential part of his signature style. He never learned the use of brushes and palettes, instead of smearing paint around the canvas. He spent weeks studying a subject, but the real painting hardly takes any time more than one and a half hour. He has mentioned that after an hour of working on any painting he feels his emotions declining and he stops then (, 2017). Affandi’s art changed radically, abandonment of strong linear brush strokes with a high level of realism and a higher level of individual expression. This mastering of the technique by Affandi was seen in his works “Self-portrait” (1944), which used watercolor having traces of impressionist style, like the oil painting “Learning Anatomy” (1948). In this specific painting, he poured all his emotions with the objects he painted. He was not just merely showing his mastery in the visual impression of the object, but the aesthetic and emotional mastery started to be reflected in his works (, 2017).

As per him, the history of art depends solely on the painter himself, on what he actually wants. It is hard to know the actual motivations for him, but he believes all depends on the people. In today’s modern world, Indonesian artists do now wish to be included and they make no failure or want to miss out on the expanding of their artistic ideals. There are many arguments, rivalry, wars, suffering and people who are in need of the most basic things in life. Affandi was doing the art not because he was attempting to be rich but because he had to. His artworks show that his paintings are like a photographic realist, which implies that his paintings are mostly like a picture taken by a camera. Because he uses pastel paint mediums, the signs of psychological factors do not get revealed clearly. An example of his artwork in pastel medium is “Kartika” (1939) (Herbiga et al., 2017).


Another famous South East Asian artist, Ronald Ventura is noted majorly for his paintings that feature complicated layering, combined images, and styles that range from hyperrealism to cartoons and graffiti, even for a large body of sculptural work. He takes the layering procedure in his artwork like a metaphor for the multi-layered national identity of Philippines, his home country. Across the centuries, the huge influence of different occupying powers like Japan, Spain, and the United States, besides the primary indigenous culture, have been able to generate a complicated and sometimes uncomfortable sense of identity (Tan, 2013). Ventura is famous for exploring this psychic and historical phenomenon via a dialogue of pictures that evoke East and West, old and young, high and low, evident in allusions to Old Master paintings or American and Japanese cartoons. He is successful in drawing the consideration to the “second skin” of cultural signifiers which is carried by every individual, however unsuspectingly. Ventura sees skin as a kind of expressive surface, that can be written on with a tattoo, or explode outwards for revealing an inner world of fantasy and conflict or even a hidden under layers of imagery. His oeuvre contains a broad and complicated diverse range of forms, styles, and imagery, seen majorly in forms like graffiti, cartoons, hyperrealism, surrealism, pop art. One such example of an artwork can be his “The Strong and the Beautiful” (2009) (, 2017).

In his layers of meaning concept, first of all, he is representing the particular situation of the Asian Filipino culture that is a specific fusion of the native culture and the regional landscapes and heritage, and on the other hand the huge influence of the occupying culture of Japan, Spain, and the United States. This kind of cross-cultural complex relationships bring about a particular unease and Ventura is seeking to expose all the phenomenon with the help of dialogue of imagery from the East and West. Therefore, it is evident that he is completely interested in the notions of borders, transgression, fusions, and struggles. Ventura is more interested in the concept of second skin as that is an expressive surface for different cultural signifiers, whether that is revealed, concealed or written over with tattoos (, 2017). He even makes attempts at broadening the range of his motivations, making use of the universal possibilities of traveling and internet. Ventura’s paintings are mostly a regular fusion of experienced cultures, across his direct will or control. The Filipino artist even manages for archiving these aesthetic qualities in different sculptures he makes, amalgamating vivid and pale, high and low, beautiful and ugly, and joy and sorrow. This kind of technique can be seen in his work “Forest” (2015) (, 2017).


Discussing both the styles and thinking of Affandi and Robert Ventura, it can be seen that South East Asian art has truly moved ahead a lot. The shift to the pluralist world has shown the rapid growth of the South East Asian art. Southeast Asian contemporary art has managed to draw ample amount of attention on the world stage by holding the hands of Affandi and now Robert Ventura. On one hand, Affandi took a realistic approach to art, using his hands and fingers to express his emotions. Ventura makes use of graffiti and layers of art to express his. Both of them have significantly contributed to the global art culture.


References (2017). Affandi’s Paintings » Museum Affandi. Retrieved 19 November 2017, from (2017). Ronald Ventura | artnet. Retrieved 19 November 2017, from (2017). Ronald Ventura - 25 Artworks, Bio & Shows on Artsy. Retrieved 19 November 2017, from (2017). ASIA CONTEMPORARY ART | Ronald Ventura. Retrieved 19 November 2017, from

Bruun, O., & Kalland, A. (2014). Asian perceptions of nature: a critical approach. Routledge.

Encyclopedia Britannica. (2017). Affandi | Javanese artist. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 19 November 2017, from

Herbiga, U., Styhler-Ayd?n, G., Grandits, D., Stampfer, L., Pontb, U., & Mayer, I. (2017). Digital Workflows For Restoration And Management Of The Museum Affandi-A Case Study In Challenging Circumstances. International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing & Spatial Information Sciences, 42. (2017). Affandi and His Portrayal of Life. Retrieved 19 November 2017, from

Tan, B. H. (2013). Three trends in contemporary art from Southeast Asia. Artlink, 33(1), 37.


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