Recently the Indonesian art world was awoken by issues of fake paintings displayed in OHD Museum 3 in Magelang owned by renowned collector, Oei Hong Djien (OHD). To clarify this matter, a discussion titled “Fine Art Round Table Discussion: Indonesian Modern Paintings, a discussion with dr. Oei Hong Djien” initiated by Sarasvati Art Management was held at the National Gallery in Jakarta, on May 24 2012.1
Participated by over 150 persons, the event brings together 12 figures as speakers and panelists, they are Goenawan Mohamad (humanist), dr. Oei Hong Djien (collector, curator, and OHD Museum owner), Jim Supangkat (critic and curator), Dr. Werner Kraus (Director of the Centre for Southeast Asian Art), Eddy Soetriyono (curator and critic), Enin Supriyanto (curator and critic), Hendro Wiyanto (curator and critic), Suwarno Wisetrotomo (curator, critic, and ISI Yogyakarta lecturer), Dr. Edi Sunaryo (painter and ISI Yogyakarta lecturer), Hermanu (Bentara Budaya Yogyakarta head), Sri Malela Mahargasarie (Vice Director and Head of Corporate Design for Tempo), and Lin Che Wei, CFA (financial analyst and founder of Sarasvati).
To continue the discussion, Sarasvati Art Research will publish a series of in depth reports regarding the authenticity of paintings by Indonesian maestros. In this first report, the discussion will be focused upon the authenticity of paintings by Soedibio in the OHD Museum 3 collection, which includes statements made by Aminudin TH Siregar (Ucok), a researcher and Indonesian art history lecturer from the Bandung Institute of Technology. He expressed his doubt in the dicussion forum. However there are several factors that refute Ucok’s points.
• CANVAS SIZE
Aminudin TH. Siregar stated that the 200×300 cm paintings by Soedibio at the OHD Museum that used one piece of canvas with no extensions (“The Journey to the Sky”, 1946–Red) is very odd. The reason was that at that time, artists were very poor and canvases were hard to get, so instead painters would use pieces of fabric that were sown together.
Fact: There are no Soedibio paintings at the OHD Museum which each sides measure more than 150 cm and use extended pieces of canvas. This is in line with the fact that the width (height) of the fabric at the time did not exceed 150 cm.
• COMPARISON WITH A PAINTING BY HENDRA GUNAWAN
In the painting by Hendra Gunawan titled “Aloen-aloen Kidoel” (1946) with measurements of 225x290cm was painted on 2 pieces of canvas that was stitched together. An additional 150x75cm piece of canvas was attached to the original. This strengthens the fact that there are no oddities with Soedibio’s paintings that have a canvas width of more than 150cm.
• PAINTING STYLE
Edi Sunaryo (painter & lecturer of ISI Jogjakarta) states that in verifying the authenticity of Soedibio’s painting cannot be based on what is seen from his painting style. In Bung Karno’s collection, Soedibio’s paintings are mostly decorative in style, unlike the dark and scary themes seen in the OHD Museum. However, the fact lies upon Soedibio’s painting titled “To You, People of Jogja” with themes of the struggle for independence whis is verified as authentic. Also, there are a collection of drawings by Soedibio from the early years of him being an artist that often portrays scenes of intense struggle. The works currently belong to a reknowned painter from Yogyakarta and is in line with the themes of the Soedibio paintings found in the OHD Museum from 1947 – 1955. After the 60’s there has been a shift in the themes in Soedibio’s paintings, which often appear in auction houses. Meanwhile, Soedibio paintings from the early period of his career are very rare.