Ivan Sagita was born in 1957 in East Java. A versatile artist with a diverse practice, Sagita is one of the most prominent artists who is associated with the Jogja surrealism movement in the 1980s, a form of surrealism that is locally situated and contextualized. Well-versed in the art of paintings and sculptures, his subjects are often portrayed as modern people with modern lives, who hold beliefs in traditional and folk myths, resulting in a unique blend of surrealism that bridges the two contrasting ideas seamlessly.
Sagita's art often explores themes of humanity and societal issues. He believes that art needs to be symbolic, in addition to the message being conveyed. Sagita delicately balances the twin objectives of spirituality and social reality of his artworks, creating poignant and eerily haunting pieces resonant with an Indonesian touch.
He’s known as an introvert and a mysterious artist, but his artworks are well known in the world of art. He uses realistic painting techniques to make unrealistic images. Out of this tension, he strives to depict the uncertainties of everyday life, especially as they impact those who are powerless in the face of poverty and injustice. He has said: "To me, life always goes differently than we expect to. This is why I tend to express uncertainties. Seeing the life in my surroundings I get the impression that everybody is controlled by an invisible power..."
Sagita's subjects are frequently the traditional Javanese people whose life struggles he observes in Yogyakarta. He has noted: "They struggle to survive, but they accept whatever happens to them." In preparation for a painting, he may take multiple photographs of a subject in an attempt to capture their inner reality. He almost always paints human figures repeatedly within one work, depicting them in shifting poses.