It took two hundred years after he was born, that he gets his first (posthumous) exhibition in his own country—also the world’s first monographic exhibition of his work. Raden Saleh Syarif Bustaman, whose life and work I traced in a National Geographic Indonesia article   last month, is Indonesia’s first modern painter. Born in Semarang, Central Java in 1811, educated and lived in Europe since 1829, he came back to his homeland Java in 1852. Five years later he painted his most important canvas: The Arrest of Prince Dipanagara, the leader of the Java War 1825–1830. He gave the painting to the King of Holland. The painting was returned to Indonesia 121 years later in 1978, and it has since been very rarely seen by the public, as it was always kept in the Presidential Palaces. It is now put on view for the Indonesian public, along with some 40 other original works by the Raden Saleh: paintings and drawings, also lithographs. Very rare opportunity indeed.
During the two-week long exhibition, there will be a talk show discussing Raden Saleh’s not-much-known life and work. I will be a speaker in the talk show, together with Dr. Werner Kraus, a German scholar who is the prime historian of Raden Saleh, and the curator of this exhibition. He will give more insights to Raden Saleh’s life, while as a photographer/writer for National Geographic Indonesia, I will share my experience in tracing Raden Saleh’s footsteps on assignment for the magazine. The talk show will be held at the exhibition venue, Galeri Nasional Indonesia, Jalan Medan Merdeka Timur, Jakarta, just right across Gambir train station. If you are around, come join us on 16 June at 15.00. The event is free of charge, but the space may be limited.
Here is a leak: I will show some unpublished photos and talk a little bit about the structure of working on an assignment for National Geographic Indonesia. Curator Werner Kraus will also give a guided exhibition tour.
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