Entitled “Jakarta in the Morning” shows a scene of what Jakarta’s main boulevard, currently known as Jl. M. H. Thamrin looked like in 1967, as seen from the raised platform of the Sarinah Building, looking south. From north to south, the buildings on the west side of the boulevard: the East Jerman Embassy, the Japanese Embassy, Hotel Ashoka and Hotel Indonesia can be seen quite distinctly depicted. On the east side of the boulevard, the buildings are less visible, but clearly the steel framed Wisma Nusantara which had been under construction since 1964, towers the landscape.
In the background, the mountain range of Mount Gede and Pangrango is also visible on clear days during that time, when Jakarta’s traffic was still at its infant beginnings, so to say. The painting also shows how the traffic was during that time: north-bound traffic on Jl. Thamrin was quite heavy, as the old town was still very much the center of business in those days. Traffic soufh bound on the boulevard is significantly much more quite. We can see a becak and a bemo on Jl. Sunda off the main boulevard.
While this painting is a tremendously intriguing testimony of what Jakarta was like in the 1960s, it is also a kind of self portrait. A figure of a man that is seated on the left side of the canvas, watching over a small child, is most certainly the painter himself in a cameo appearance. Indeed, Sudjojono often brought his family to enjoy Sarinah, which was at the time the most prominent department store in the city, particularly to be able to enjoy the views of their developing hometown from the building’s open air raised platform.
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