POST C: Incorporation of Culture in Indonesian Art Forms

Like the nation itself, Indonesia’s art and design can be considered diverse and culturally rich, with culture being the main element of Indonesian Art. In order to develop a more profound understanding of how culture is incorporated into Indonesian art forms, I had the pleasure of interviewing Liana Hardiyanto, a 34-year-old woman who was born and raised in an Indonesian community where art is respected and deemed as an important medium to illustrate Indonesian culture.

When conducting the interview with Liana, one thing she constantly delved upon was the importance of culture, in not only her life, but also of those apart of the Indonesian community living in Indonesia, as well as other foreign countries. In saying this, she aspires to pass on all the cultural knowledge and practices which she has learnt growing up, to not only “her children, but also to the following generations” (2015, pers. comm, 26 April). As “rich” as Indonesia is [like Liana says], its culture is “defined by arts, religious beliefs as well as customs passed from one generation to another” (Unknown, 2001, pp.134).

The uniqueness of Indonesia’s art and design originates in “the harmonies, blend of intelligent life, wisdom and freshness” of the artwork (Unknown, 2008). With Indonesian art and handicrafts, like batik and ikat, becoming more prominent, “culture itself has become art” (Jones, 2013, pp.10), allowing artists to use local materials such as wood, metal, clay and stone.

Through the continuation of the interview, Liana (2015, pers. comm, 26 April) emphasizes Batik as one of Indonesia’s culturally rich and decorative art forms, which has begun to be recognized in western cultures. Batik, is a method of creating intricate patterns by dying cloth. To resist the dye, hot wax is applied to the cloth using a canting. Once dyed and the wax is removed, those areas remain as its original colour, in turn creating vibrant yet decorative art which often depicts visuals of Indonesian culture and environment.

In 2000, Liana moved to Melbourne from Jakarta in hopes of further pursuing her studies. During the 5 years of studying Food Science at RMIT University, Liana found that “Australian art forms were very different to those she grew up learning and observing in Jakarta”(2015, pers. comm, 26 April). As technical and abstract as Australian art may be, it very much “lacks a traditional element, which is very prominent in Indonesian art”(2015, pers. comm, 26 April). She further observed that “where Australian art focuses on aesthetics and technique, Indonesian art focuses on precision and vibrant colours” (2015, pers. comm, 26 April).

A local Surabaya woman precisely and carefully painting at Indonesia’s largest Art Market (Photo courtesy of Djoko Kristiono)

This interview gave an extended insight into the importance of culture within Indonesia’s rich art forms, in turn becoming one of Indonesia’s true national riches.


2015, pers. comm, 26 April (Liana Hardiyanto)

Jones, J, 2013, Culture, Power, and Authoritarianism in the Indonesian State: Cultural Policy across the Twentieth Century to the Reform Era, Brill Publication, book, pp.10

Kristiono, D, 2011, Indonesian Art Market Opening in Surabaya, Demotix, viewed 30 April 2015, <;

Primary Society and Environment, 2001, R.I.C Publications, book, pp.134

West Java Cultural Art, 2008, Indonesia Cultural and Art, viewed 30 April 2015, <;

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