Hendra Gunawan Artist Biography

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Hendra Gunawan (1918-1983), artist, poet, sculptor and guerilla fighter, was born in Bandung, the capital of West Java, in 1918. During his youth he joined the student troops and was an active member of Poetera (Center of Popular Power) and organization led by Sukarno and others. He was also active in Persagi (The Association of Indonesian Painters, an organization founded by S. Soedjojono and Agus Djaya in 1938.

Gunawan was committed in his political views, and dedicated his life to the fight against poverty, injustice and colonialism. He was incarcerated in Kebon Waru for his involvement in the Institute of Popular Culture (Lekra), a cultural organization affiliated with the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). Gunawan's incarceration began in the 1960's and he was not released until 1978. During this time, his artwork was rarely seen or written about.

One of the relics of the artist's time in prison is a group of sketches left to his second wife Nuraini. Made in pencil or ink on small pieces of paper, the drawings record Gunawan's state of mind during the time he spent at Kebon Waru penitentiary. According to the Jakarta Post, the images include:

"...the busy activities of fishermen on the coast, fishes, water buffaloes, women (making up, wearing a sarong, nude, dancing with faces masked), men and women in intimate love relationships, masked men, guerrillas and abstract forms better exploring his innermost feelings."

Many of Gunawan's works have been lost, but museums, and private collectors have located and catalogued over 120 of his paintings and sketches, along with eleven sculptures.

The gallery has just acquired new works by this artist, to view images and for adidtional information, please inquire with us by clicking here.

To watch a new video about the artist's work, click the thumbnail below

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