Postcards by Adi Winata

These colorful postcards were issued by the Travelers Official Information Bureau of Netherland India in 1935. The images were painted by Adi Winata, a talented Indonesian artist in the first half of the twentieth century, who was specialized in watercolor painting. Winata’s work belongs to the so-called Beautiful Indies style, which is characterized by romantic depictions of the Dutch East Indies; mostly natural scenes of mountains, rice paddies and villages, with scenes of natives.

Winata was born in Bandung (circa 1898/1899) and grew up in an artistic environment. His younger brothers Soewardja and Basar were also artist painter by profession. Initially he worked as a furniture painter in his father’s company and went door-to-door selling his brothers’ paintings. Because the stock of paintings regularly ran out when his brothers were away, he started to draw himself. Unlike his brothers who mainly painted landscapes, Winata specialized also in drawing people. Javanese and Balinese dancers in particular were his favorite subject. He was also good at painting twilight landscapes, urban and rural scenes and interiors.

Indies Jelita
The soft colors in his watercolors are characteristics of the Beautiful Indies style (Indies Molek or Indies Jelita). The term became famous in 1939 after prominent painter Sindoesoedarsono Soedjojono used it to mock painters that merely depicted the romantic, naturalistic landscapes of the Dutch East Indies. According to Soedjojono and other critics, this romantic image of a beautiful and peaceful life contrasted sharply with the real life of colonized people. The paintings were therefore mainly bought by wealthy Dutchmen and Indo-Europeans. Today, there is again a lot of interest in paintings from this period. Beautiful Indies paintings by well-known painters often fetch high prices at auctions in Europe and Asia.

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