The Strokes of Independence 17|71: “Goresan Juang Kemerdekaan” at Galeri Nasional

by Beata Primana
11th August 2016
Throughout the month of August, Galeri Nasional exhibits the never-before-seen archival collection of 28 paintings from Indonesia's presidential palaces.

For the first time ever, presidential palaces of the Republic of Indonesia (namely Istana Merdeka, Istana Bogor, Istana Cipanas and Istana Yogyakarta) exhibit their never-before-seen archival collection of paintings and photographs, providing the chance for the public to immerse themselves within the histories and mysteries of 28 artworks that have sat majestically behind closed doors for 71 years.

The exhibition entitled 17|71: “Goresan Juang Kemerdekaan”, opened and initiated by President Joko Widodo, showcases both art and nationalism as translated by prominent painters – Affandi, Basoeki Abdullah, Raden Saleh, S. Sudjojono, and Walter Spies just to name a few – in their artworks. To commemorate the near date of our country’s Independence Day, the exhibition is being held as a means of rekindling long forgotten sentiments of pride and nationalism, of the freedom and independence the nation rightfully deserves. These masterpieces bear rather intrinsic messages and values of the true heroes of our nation – those that bore the deep scars of war – to remind us of our skin-deep identity of red and white.

The artworks, most of which are Indonesia’s first President Soekarno’s collections, are divided into three groups. As you enter the main gallery, you will be greeted by the first group: the familiar portraits of national figures such as R.A. Kartini, Diponegoro and General Sudirman, depicting their prominence during the times of struggle for independence. The second group of artworks features the theme of social conditions during the revolutionary era from 1940 to 1950, which depicts the somber, destructive and satirical nature of the era against the canvas. 

Meanwhile, the last group offers a glimpse of the country’s natural beauty – scenery, local culture and people – seen through the eyes of painters over the span of 1930 to 1970. One of the highlights includes the Mexican painter’s Diego Rivera depiction of a woman, a painting called “Gadis Melayu dengan Bunga” (Malay Woman with Flowers) which is owned by Soekarno himself.

In addition to the 28 paintings displayed, this exhibition also showcases exclusive photos of Indonesia’s ex-presidents as well as books that document all the paintings in the exhibition. Scroll down to view the photos of the exhibition.


This exhibition runs throughout the month of August. For more information on the exhibition, visit