26 February 2020 (closed)
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With the 72nd anniversary of the Republic of Indonesia approaching (on 17 August 2017), those who love art have a chance to enjoy the collection of paintings owned by the Indonesian state that normally decorates the walls within the Presidential Palace. In the National Gallery of Indonesia (located in Central Jakarta) a total of 48 paintings - created by famous Indonesian and foreign painters including Raden Saleh, Dullah, Walter Spies, Rudolf Bonnet, Trubus Soedarsono and Lee Man Fong - are displayed to the general public throughout the month of August.
The art exhibition, which was opened by Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla on 1 August, also features the "Traditional Russian Wedding" (in Russian: Pribite Nevesti), a beautiful piece painted by Russian painter Konstantin Yegorovich Makovsky (1839-1915). However, due to the size of the painting (295x454 cm) the curators - Asikin Hasan, Amir Sidharta, Mikke Susanto, and Sally Texania - decided to show it through a LED projector at the art gallery.
The "Traditional Russian Wedding" was finished in 1881. Due to its old age and Indonesia's tropical climate it required restoration (painting conservation) in 2004. In recent years the Indonesian government has become more aware of the importance to preserve its art collection. In the five Presidential Palaces of Indonesia there are some 2,600 paintings (most of these paintings were collected by Soekarno who was moved out of his position around 1967). However, the governments after Soekarno seemingly did not care too much about the paintings and therefore many of them started to "fall apart" (for example one of Soekarno's favorite paintings "Memanah", painted by Henk Ngantung in 1943).
Another Makovsky painting that is owned by the Indonesian state is Vakchanalia (273x398 cm, 1891). For the conservation of both Russian paintings the government flew in experts and paint from Russia. When the paintings were assessed in 2011 they were valued at an average of IDR 18 billion each (approx. USD $1.4 million). Both Russian paintings were a gift from Russian president Nikita Khrushchev to Soekarno.
According to art critic Agus Dermawan the paintings are actually worth much more than IDR 18 billion, each, as he puts the quality of the paintings at the same level as Rembrandt van Rijn's "The Night Watch".