Affandi Artist Biography

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Affandi (1907 – May 23, 1990) was born in Cirebon, West Java, as the son of R. Koesoema, who was a surveyor at a local sugar factory. Affandi finished his upper secondary school in Jakarta, but he forsook his study for the desire to become an artist. Affandi taught himself how to paint since 1934. He married Maryati, a fellow artist, and one of his children, Kartika also became an artist.

In the 1950s, Affandi began to create expressionistic paintings. Carrying the First Grandchild (1953) was the piece that marked his newfound style: “squeezing the tube.” Affandi paints by directly squeezing the paint out of its tube. He came across this technique by accident, when he intended to draw a line one day. As he lost his patience when he sought for the missing pencil, he applied the paint directly from its tube. The resulting effect, as he found out, was that the painting object appeared more alive. He also felt more freedom to express his feelings when he used his own hands, instead of a paint brush. In certain respects, he has acknowledged similarities with Vincent van Gogh.

As a renowned artist, Affandi participated in various exhibitions abroad. Besides India, he has also displayed his works in the biennale in Brazil (1952), Venice (1954), and won an award therein), and Sao Paolo (1956). In 1957, he received a scholarship from the United States government to study the methods of arts education. He was appointed as Honorary Professor in Painting by Ohio State University in Columbus in the United States. In 1974, he received an honorary doctorate from University of Singapore, the Peace Award from the Dag Hammarskjoeld Foundation in 1977, and the title of Grand Maestro in Florence, Italy.

On the bank of the Gajah Wong River on Solo Street in Yogyakarta, Affandi designed and constructed a home for himself, which also functions as a museum to display his paintings. The building is uniquely constructed, with a roof that resembles a banana leaf. The museum has around 250 of Affandi’s paintings. Regrettably, the high air humidity and temperature are causing concerns about the condition of the paintings. The Affandi Foundation, who manages the museum, finds it difficult to manage the museum properly, due to a lack of funds and revenue.

Before passing away, Affandi spent a lot of time sitting around in his own museum, observing his paintings. He said once, “I want to die in simplicity without giving anyone unnecessary trouble, so I could go home to Him in peace.”

After suffering a complication of illnesses, on Wednesday, the May 23, 1990, Affandi died. He is now buried in the museum complex, as he wished to always be surrounded by his family and his works.

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