Kusama Affandi

1907 - 1990

About the artist

Affandi was an Indonesian artist from Cirebon, West Java. While his dad wanted him to become a doctor, Affandi's interest and love for drawing became increasingly more important to him, which led him to give up his studies and pursue an artistic career.

He teached himself how to paint around 1934, using the paint that was left over from his job as a housepainter and a billboard artist. Affandi did not get in touch with his Western contemporaries such as Kandinsky and Picasso until the late 1930s at a large exhibition in Jakarta. He was attracted to the works of the Impressionists, masters such as Goya and of the old masters such as Hieronymus Bosch and Breughel. In the 1950s, Affandi began to work in an expressionist manner, which he called 'squeezing the tube', referring to the direct application of paint from the tube. Affandi stated that the direct application of paint made it easier to express his feelings in his paintings and that the objects depicted became more lively. His paintings are often seen as expressive and not so much as aesthetically pleasing, depicting beggars and suffering people.

Affandi spent a few years in India before he went on to Europe to show his paintings, visiting Rome, London, Paris and other large European cities. From there on, he went to the United States, teaching at Ohio State University as an Honorary Professor in Painting. He has travelled through Asia as well after participating in the São Paulo Biennale.

Most of his works, around 250 paintings, currently reside in Yogyakarta, where he designed his own house and museum, inspired by the shape of a banana leaf. When Affandi died in 1990, he was buried in the museum, fulfilling his final wish to be eternally surrounded by his family and works.