7 streams of painting

If a painting can speak, maybe we will be entertained to hear the story of the behavior of people who stand looking at it with a million opinions or pose in front of them to add to the aesthetics of their Instagram feeds. Painting, like other works of art, comes from the most personal part of the creator of the work that once thrown into the public must volunteer to be “stripped naked” by the opinions and perceptions of those who see it. Everyone feels entitled to have an opinion on a painting. There are those who appreciate it with a background of knowledge, but not infrequently it also sounds chirpy “What do you mean by this?”, “Like a painting of a small child”, “Aah, if it’s just like this I can make it,” and other degrading remarks.

Not intending to signal, Cosmo would have been happy to see that the access of art exhibitions had become more open and unlimited in certain circles. Art exhibitions have become a part of today’s lifestyle, especially in big cities. The indicator is an increasingly plural art exhibition and the number of visitors who are busy coming to it. There are those who really want to enjoy art, there are also those who might just appreciate it by taking pictures in front of the work. Whatever the reason, art should indeed be enjoyed by anyone regardless of their background. However, it will certainly feel more pleasant if you at least know the basic knowledge about the flow of painting that you see. Therefore, in order to welcome the launch of Art Jakarta 2018, Cosmo wants to give a kind of crash course about the most common flow of painting. Calculating can be a new knowledge for you before coming to the next art exhibition, enjoy!


Painting in the beginning was a human effort to document what he saw in other mediums, long before the art of photography was known. Realism or often referred to as naturalism is the flow of painting whose main focus is to describe an object as it is, according to reality, without additional artificial elements or artistic exploration. The tendency of this flow is to imitate the shape of the object as closely as possible to the original. From abroad we know names such as Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet, and Isaac Levitan, while in domestic famous realist painters are Raden Saleh and Basuki Abdullah. In its development, the emergence of photorealism flow, namely the flow of paintings that try to look realistic as possible as a photo that later developed into pop art, as well as hyperrealism.


Like punk music, the flow of impressionism was born as a form of resistance to the standard, especially in the academic rules of painting which were obsessed with detail and emphasized contours, volumes, and lines. Instead of painting in a studio, impressionist artists will bring their canvas outdoors and paint in the open (en plein air). For them the most important thing is the impression of one moment and light reflected by the object with emphasis on color, not form. The result is a painting that looks more dynamic, honest, as it is, and feels more personal. The hallmark of Impressionism works was originally paintings depicting beautiful landscapes and daily life in bright colors. Like anything against the grip, this school had been blasphemed and even refused to take part in the prestigious painting exhibition of the time, Salon de Paris, which was still rigid in the standard of painting which had to be as close as possible to its object. As a form of resistance, impressionist painters held their own exhibitions under the name Salon des Refuses, which were endorsed by Emperor Napoleon III so that the public could self-assess these works. With the spirit of resistance, impressionism became the forerunner of other streams of modern painting such as Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism. Some of the most famous impressionist painters include Monet, Auguste Rodin, Renoir, and Zaini.


Hearing the word “surreal” that comes to pass is something that is considered strange, unusual, unique, and like a dream. So even with surrealism-style paintings. An example is “The Persistence of Memory”, an oil painting by Salvador Dali that shows a picture of a few hours that looks melted in a desert. Many surrealist painters argue that their work is a material embodiment of philosophical thinking that came to their minds. The melting clock in Dali’s painting is associated with the theory of time and space that is “liquid”. The flow of surrealism itself originated from a cultural movement in the early 1920s with strange visual characteristics, surprising, and tended to fight reality or combine it with elements of fantasy. For some artists, surrealism that developed in the era of World War I was also a form of resistance affected by politics, social theory, and philosophy. Besides Dali, other well-known surrealist artists are Rene Magritte, Joan Miro, and from within our country we recognize the name Roby Dwi Antono whose work is closely related to the image of surrealism.


Being part of the flow of modern painting, expressionism that emerged in early 20th century Germany was a painting that emphasized the emotional effects of the eyes of the painter. Things that want to be lifted from this stream are ideas, moods, and emotional experiences that often ignore reality. The key word is emotion, so most of his works tend to be angsty. The most famous example is “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, “Large Blue Horses” by Franz Marc, and Affandi’s works.



Developed by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac in 1886, pointilism which is a derivative of impressionism is a technique of painting an object using dots. Using point variations with various scales and colors, painters play with a perspective where the object of the painting will be clearly visible when viewed from a distance and increasingly diffuse when viewed from a short distance. Besides Seurat and Signac, other well-known pointillism painters were Georges Lemmen, Henri-Edmond Cross, and Camille Pissarro.


The flow of cubism is easily recognizable because of its characteristic features of geometric shapes such as cubes, triangles, circles, etc. with a color game that is very perspective. This flow was developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque and is often seen as a mixture of impressionism and abstractionism. In addition to outside artists such as Juan Gris, Gino Severini, and Albert Gleizes, we also know local cubism artists such as Mochtar Apin and Fajar Sidik.

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