George also explained about Raden Saleh's close relationship with the Dutch
colonialists. First he explained about his family history.
Two cousins of Raden Saleh Syarif Bustaman, named Raden Sukur or his real
name Raden Panji Adi Negara, also named Raden Saleh alias Arya Natadiningrat are the sons of the Regent of Semarang Kyai Adipati Suryamangalla or Suraadimanggala. Both of them went to war with Prince
Because of this the father and brother of Raden Sukur were arrested by the
Dutch in 1825. They were imprisoned in the 'Maria van Reygersbergen' prison then sent to Surabaya and put into the 'Pollux' prison.
After that they were exiled to Ambon and Sumenep. Until Kyai Adipati
Suryamangalla, died there on July 20, 1827. Raden Sukur, who continued to be loyal to Prince Diponegoro, was finally arrested on July 26, 1829.
"As you can see, our family has suffered a lot. Because of their loyal
support for Prince Diponegoro and his noble cause. They were also considered a disgrace by the Dutch colonial powers," said George.
But the Dutch government itself did not know what to do with Raden Saleh.
After Raden Saleh left for the Netherlands, his success as a painter began.
For George, there is an inner turmoil in Raden Saleh which is reflected in
his works. "He depicts ships at sea being hit by storms, even shipwrecks. These paintings reflect the inner turmoil and great suffering of the Dutch occupation of Java," he said.
In George's view, his great-uncle proved through art that Java and the
Netherlands were equal in painting technique. "He brought himself to the same level and allowed him to see the same level as colonial powers."
However, according to George, there are many versions and misunderstandings
about Raden Saleh, because Raden Saleh, who was fluent in five languages, stepped on the stage of Javanese cultural and social modernization too early. He proved that the Javanese could excel
technique in European culture.
Raden Saleh's painting was also the first to be used as a topic of
representation, interpretation and commentary in the Southeast Asian art family.
Raden Saleh is the first Southeast Asian artist to confidently stand at the
forefront, on par with the political elite. "This is a modern attitude. It's a precondition for a new era, a prerequisite for modernity," said George.