Seminar: Political Art in Southeast Asia: The Role of LEKRA in Indonesia



About the Seminar

Curator Jim Supangkat and other participants in the Southeast Asian art world have argued that writers, particularly Western art theorists and historians, have over-emphasised politics in the analysis of Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art. This paper explores the importance of the political dimension of contemporary Southeast Asian art, and asks whether it is over-stated, or whether the political, broadly defined, should be seen as the basis of what artists do. I will examine this question by exploring the role and historiography of LEKRA, the People’s Art Movement in Indonesia in the 1950s and 1960s. I will look at questions of Soviet and European influence on art, and the roles of social realism and socialism in delimiting the content of art. I will also explore the legacy of LEKRA in the depiction of social issues in Indonesian art of the late twentieth- and early twenty-first centuries.

About the Speaker

Professor Adrian Vickers holds a personal chair in Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Sydney, where he is director of Asian Studies. His publications include Bali: A Paradise Created (1989, latest edition 2013, previously translated into German, Dutch, Japanese and Indonesia); A History of Modern Indonesia (2004, new edition 2012, translated into Chinese, Indonesian and Turkish); Balinese Art: Paintings and Drawing of Bali (2012), and, with Julia Martìnez, The Pearl Frontier: Labor Mobility across the Australian-Indonesian Maritime Zone (2015). The Pearl Frontier was 2016 winner of the Northern Territory Chief Minister’s History Book Award, winner of the Queensland Literary Awards 2016 USQ History Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2016 Ernest Scott History Prize of the Australian Historical Association. He has been a Visiting Fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge and the Cambridge University Joint Centre for History and Economics; Senior Visiting Fellow at the Asia Research Centre at the National University of Singapore; and a Visiting Fellow at the Royal Institute for Linguistics and Anthropology, Leiden.

To register, please fill in this form and email to <> by Tuesday, 25 October 2016.


Oct 26 2016


3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2