Hendra Gunawan's Tukang Es Puter
oil on canvas
149 x 69 cm
149 x 69 cm
Sidharta Fine Art Auction
1 November 2015
Together with Affandi and Sudjojono, Hendra Gunawan has always been considered as the most important Indonesian modern masters. In fact, not only does he paint the lives of the common people of Indonesia, the way he creates forms, his brushstrokes, pallette and compositions are unlike any other (especially Western) painter and therefore often considered to be the most “authentically Indonesian” artist. In conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the Indonesian Independence this year, President Joko Widodo with the Paramadharma cultural medal of honor.
We are very proud to feature in our Fine Art Auction, Hendra Gunawan’s Tukang Es Puter, a painting depicting a scene surround the activities of a crank ice cream vendor. In the hot, tropical villages in Indonesia, while ice cream is certainly an item of luxury, some villagers make ice cream using a simple hand crank ice cream maker that uses crushed ice, raw milk and rock salt (similar to the kind that is used to make old fashioned home-made ice cream in the Western world). They sell the product by carrying a couple of large wooden pails of ice cream balanced on a large wooden or bamboo stick, which they place on their shoulders, around the villages.
In this particular scene, the painter slightly diverts our attention away from the vendor, to take note of the kneeling woman in the foreground. Just as the woman appears trying to enjoy a spoon of the es puter ice cream she just purchased, her duties as a mother call. Her toddler seems still unable to yet end his habit of breast-feeding, although he is no longer a small baby. Meanwhile, her little girl seems to also attempting to attract her attention by hugging her from behind. Her attempt to attain a simple pleasure is often held back by her duties and obligations. Such is the complex life of common Indonesian women, as Hendra Gunawan has observed.
Hendra Gunawan’s paintings usually are depictions the common people and their lives. They are often not merely idyllic pictorial renditions but often they are indeed insightful yet subtle observations that explore their humanity, their struggle of making ends meet, their attempts to attain their simple pleasures, and the challenges they often face. The insightful observations, as can be seen in this painting, distinguish the masterpieces from the rest.