Thursday, July 6, 2017

Featured Paintings in Our Auction

(Lot #106)

Sigit Santosa, F. Bumi Yang Tersisa Bagi Anakku, 1997. oil on canvas (70cm x 70cm). Signed and dated on lower left: "Sigit Santosa 1997". 
A prime example of Indonesian contemporary art, this piece by Sigit Santosa addresses environmental issues and the social impact of global warming. Bumi Yang Tersisa Bagi Anakku (The Earth that is Left For My Child), discusses the inevitable infertility and pollution that our present generation will leave behind for future generations. 

Sigit Santosa is critical of contemporary issues concerning socio-politics in particular, using art as a medium to address these issues through conceptualisation. He does so through installations and sculptures as well as paintings. 

The woman in the centre overlooks the gates to a factory, dressed in an smooth green dress, clasping an evergreen in her hands. Her face is unknown to the audience, elusive and a stranger. She is with child as seen through her form, which suggests natural processes juxtaposed against an unnatural setting. The sky is blue but grim, with toxic waste coming out from the factory tower. The soil is barren and is devoid of plants littered with tree stumps.

With symbolic and careful composition, Sigit Santosa creates an atmosphere so grim in which he uses to foreshadow the inevitability of a toxic barren Earth if global warming were to continue. Using painting and art as his medium, this piece serves as a warning to humankind, a stellar example of critical postmodern painting. 

(Lot #108)
Nasirun. Mythological Scene, 2016. oil on canvas (90cm x 70cm). Signed and dated on lower right: "nsrun 2016".

Nasirun's work is, without a doubt, unworldly and always filled with colour and odd shapes. He is playful and experimental, especially seen through his bold use of colour and distorted figures. Nasirun, unshakeably Javanese, he gets inspiration from wayang, the art of traditional Indonesian shadow puppetry, an art so popular amongst the Javanese that it transcends into the creations of Indonesian contemporary artists. 

This influence is seen through the distorting of Nasirun's figures: disproportionate with wide eyes, large heads, small waists, fluid arms, and so forth as seen in this Mythological Scene. By doing so, he hopes to recontextualise and revive the traditional art form, by means of socio-political commentary and a hint of irony and humour as a means to criticise contemporary issues. 

His brushwork dances on the surface, expressive and impulsive, creating an unworldly atmosphere, as if looking into an entranced ritual. 

(Lot #110)

Heri Dono. Apapun Makannya Yang Penting Minumnya Teh Botol, 2006. acrylics on canvas (2006). Signed and dated on lower right: "heri dono 2006"

The artist who represented Indonesia and the Indonesian Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, Heri Dono shines through socio-political commentary with humour and parody. His comical style, his bright use of colours, his symbolism and his humour are all staples of the artist, as one can see within this painting. Born and raised in Yogyakarta, he was no stranger to the art of wayang as a child. He studied this art with a dalang, a master puppeteer, before pursuing a career in painting, and carried with him the philosophy, attributes and symbolism into his art. Needless to say, this deep influence of wayang mixed together with his comical and pop culture references, Heri Dono's works are never one devoid of meaning and concept. 

With Apapun Makannya Yang Penting Minumnya Teh Botol (Whatever You Eat What's Important is to Drink Teh Botol), a shining politician is seen grinning in the middle, identified with the peci, or hat, suit and tie. He has emblems on his forehead, hat and suit, alluding to prestige and accomplishment; however, these emblems include symbols such as a bottle and  that Heri puts forward as a subliminal meaning, playing around with the signifier and the signified.

The holistic colour scheme falls down to red and white, perhaps an allusion to the Indonesian flag, with black as an accessory of perhaps even an addition to his concept. Nevertheless, this pokes at our national integrity, 

(Lot #121)

Bunga Jeruk Permata Pekerti. Super Curators, 2002. oil on canvas (70cm x 70cm). Signed and dated on lower left: "Bunga 2002". 
Bunga Jeruk works in a youthful and colourful world of pop and humour. Her work bright and hopeful, especially seen through her subject matter, yet occasionally underpinned by socio-political commentary. 

With Super Curators, she pokes at the personality and individuality using signifiers: the rabbit on the shoulder and the halo that surround the two figures. The rabbit may allude to the magician's rabbit, or, paired with the adjacent halo, the idea of a devil and angel accompanying our person at all times. The silhouettes of these figures are devoid of identity and could be a personal reference to Bunga Jeruk herself. 

A simple yet ambiguous piece of work, this painting leaves the audience wondering and definitely a steal from this emerging contemporary artist.

(Lot #208)
SudarsoPerempuan Berpayung, 1969. oil on canvas (140cm x 80cm). Signed and dated on lower left: "Sudarso '69"

As a close comrade and Bung Karno's favorite painter back in the hay days, Sudarso is a painter of unparalleled qualities. His contemporaries were often swayed by Western artists such as Matisse and Van Gogh, yet Sudarso kept to his quaint and authentic Javanese style. He was commonly known amongst his peers and the art world as The Last Javanese Artist.

A man of deep Javanese roots, the principle subject matter of his works is mostly local women, sitting down and in traditional dress known as a kebaya. He appreciated beauty and harmony, and did so by engendering the humble beauty of his female models. Within his works, the majority of his models carry no expression; hands and legs are crossed, carrying with them a sense of a reserved and obedient disposition. 

However, with one of our featured lots, his Perempuan Berpayung (Girl Under an Umbrella), is an unusual piece: a typical Sudarso-esque female is present in the painting, dressed in traditional kebaya with a lush landscape behind her. However, unlike his other models, she is depicted standing in profile, keeping a sense of mystery to her identity and her intentions. Her face and expression are kept from the audience as she looks into the distance, as if about to embark on a journey outside of the frame. 

This piece is an extraordinary addition to our auction this year, as not only is this piece created by one of Indonesia's painterly masters and by the Last Javanese Artist, it invites the audience to wonder and contemplate about the subject matter as well as keeping the canonised stylistic integrity of the humble Sudarso.

(Lot #209)

Arifien Nief. Perayaan (Celebration), 1982. oil on canvas (50cm x 50cm). Signed and dated on lower right: "Nief '82 Perayaan"

"My imagination has great power. I rely on that power. I invent scenes from hazy memories in a manner that I would like to see them unfold."

Arifien Neif is an artist of an interesting integrity. A master of agility on the canvas and romanticized scenes and narratives, the world that Neif creates with a paintbrush is one of a kind. He explores the grey area between the empirical and the imagined, brought to life with detailed ornamentation of interiors, bodies shaped by human drama and mysticism. 

Made in the early 1980s, Perayaan (Celebration) is one of Neif's early works, wherein his style was still chromatically sombre and subjects inherently symbolic. He began to explore a more populous frame, his figures taking up a more heart-shaped anatomy. Here, they are allegorical in nature: some entirely human and some hybrids. These hybrid figures propose a philosophy or symbol that Neif himself used to explore, and here he suggests the complex inner lives of his subjects. Although strange, mysterious and puzzling, Neif's imagination towards the composition and creation of this bustling scene is [of high value]. 

Having moved to Jakarta alone and in poverty, he looked to the streets and nightlife to observe and paint. With this piece, a busy festive scene is seen, with banners to the left, the crowed over the bridge in the centre and a river to the right. The crowdedness and restlessness of the scene portrays the city's full-thronged dynamic, one Neif knows all too well. Nonetheless, he combines his documentation of such dynamic with an impartiality, one he mixes well with his imagination. 

Rich in symbolism, mysticism, vibrancy and the sombreness of his early works, Perayaan (Celebration), could be the quintessential Neif before he found his staple style as one of Indonesia's well-loved artists.

In Memory of Siti Latifah Herawati Diah (1917 – 2016), Patron of the Arts

(lots #051 - 053)

In late memory of Bu Siti Latifah Herawati Diah (1917 - 2016).
Image source:

Journalist and publisher Herawati Diah was known as avid patron of the arts, particularly for her role in the establishment of the Mitra Budaya Foundation in 1967. The Foundation raised funds and encouraged the Indonesian government to ask for UNESCO’s assistance to restore the Borobudur.

Born in Tanjung Pandan, Belitung, on April 3, 1917, she attended the Europeesche Lagere School in Jakarta and went to the American High School in Tokyo. She graduated from Barnard College in 1941, becoming the first Indonesian woman to graduate from a university in the United States.

Balinese Wedding Couple. 1990, oil on canvas (108cm x 80cm), Djaja Tjandra Kirana. Signed and dated in lower right: "Djaja Tjandra Kirana Bali 90". (Lot #051)

Upon her return to Indonesia in 1942, Herawati worked as a freelance reporter for the United Press International news wire, and later joined the Hosokyoku radio service. Later that year, he married Burhanuddin Muhammad Diah, a journalist at the Asia Raya newspaper.

Not long after the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence in 1945, BM Diah published the Harian Merdeka daily. Together, they published the Keluarga magazine in 1952. They also published the Indonesian Observer English newspaper, which was published and distributed for the first time during the Asian-African Conference in Bandung, West Java in 1955.

Flowers. 1980, oil on canvas (55cm x 65cm), Sri Yunnah. Signed and dated in lower left: "Sri Yunnah 1980". (Lot #052)

As she neared the age of 90, she established the Lingkar Budaya Indonesia foundation along with her friends. An active community and institution, it aims to preserve traditional Indonesian culture through art fairs (pementasan seni-budaya) and active intellectual discussions.

She passed away on at the age of 99 on September 30, 2016. Even just months before her death, she continued to be an avid supporter of the arts, often seen attending musical and theatrical performances in Jakarta.

Women Going to the Market. 1990, oil on canvas (80cm x 120cm), Diany Asmina Sinung. Signed and dated in lower right: "Diany '90". (Lot #053)

Three paintings from her collection (lots #051 - 053 ) are offered in this auction. Proceeds from the sale will benefit Yayasan Bina Carita, a foundation that Herawati Diah established to help children of need in Indonesia.

A Tribute to S. Hadi Asmara

(lots #193 - 196)

Among the numerous noteworthy Indonesian artists that have created great artworks over the years, very few are privileged to obtain appropriate recognition. Many or even most get neglected and forgotten forever.  

Fortunately for sculptor and painter S. Hadi Asmara, during a visit his dear friend Affandi decided to make a painting of him. On the painting, dated 1962, the maestro even wrote “Sdr. S. Hadi dengan model2nya” (“Camarade S. Hadi with his models”). Affandi then presented it as a gift to Hadi Asmara and it remained in the younger artist’s collection for decades.
In the late 1990s or early 2000s, a prominent collector was interested in S. Hadi Asmara’s monumental sculpture, Men Brayut. When he visited the sculptor’s family to view the piece, he noticed Affandi’s portrait of the sculptor. The painting affirmed the artist’s prominence in the artworld, and the collector made his decision to purchase the sculpture. He purchased the painting as well.

Born in 1915/1922, S. Hadi Asmara was considered as a self taught artist. However, he did study monumental art and the relationship between art and architecture at the Academy of San Carlos, Mexico City. He works have been exhibited in Veracruz (1962), Lima, Peru (1963) as well as at the Sala International of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, 1964.

He participated in the First Exhibition of Contemporary Indonesian Sculpture in 1973, held at the Taman Ismail Marzuki in Jakarta.
In the exhibition catalog, he explained his works as:
“Along with a syncretistic attitude with which I attempt to integrate the good aspects in each work of art with my personal aesthetic convictions, every single work of mine is related to actual events. To discover the particular characteristics of materials is the starting-point of my work. I found dramatic impact in Henry Moore’s sculpture, lyric-poetic elements in Barbara Hepworth, and monumentalism in Goeritz work. I attempt to integrate three elements.”

Planned Parenthood. wood, 109cm in height. Asmara, S. Hadi. Publication: Pameran Pertama Patung Kontemporer Indonesia, Marah Joenes, Jakarta 1973. (Lot #196)

The sculptor passed away in 1976. Other than the entry in the First Exhibition of Contemporary Indonesian Sculpture in 1973, not much further information about S. Hadi Asmara is available. Affandi’s portrait of the artist in many ways provides the artist with recognition,and should trigger new interest in the artist. One of S. Hadi Asmara’s painting was featured in Sidharta Auctioneer’s Fine Art auction in 2006.

In this auction, in addition to Affandi’s portrait of the artist, a number of other works, are offered, including a painting and two sculptures. Although hitherto not much has been written about the artist, we hope that collectors and museum curators will soon realize that S. Hadi Asmara is an Indonesian artist worthy of note and worth collecting.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Property of a Gentleman

(lots # 022 - 050)

Sometimes art collections get passed on from generation to generation, but of late more often than otherwise, collections get offered through auctions. This becomes an excellent chance for collectors to add some very nice and interesting pieces into their collection.

The opportunity becomes even better if the collector is someone who are true collectors in the conventional sense. True conventional collectors tend to make their acquisitions based on their aesthetic tastes. They do not make purchases based on any interest of making economic gains in the future. They concentrate on the artistic value that they will be able to enjoy while they are in possession of the artworks.
The true conventional collectors’ pursuit for artistic value often lead them to acquire great works by masters, even though they might not be the “top ten” masters by art market standards.

Amidst the twenty nine salient works by Abdullah Suriosubroto, Gustave Bettinger, Willem Dooijewaard, Otto Djaya, Ken Pattern, Suminto, Tatang Kuntjoro, and Tio Tjay in the collection, there are great pieces by Gerard Adolfs, Ong Kiem Seng, and Ida Bagus Made Poleng.

Gerard Adolfs’s Adorned Figure (lot #036) is a gouache on paper piece depicting an lavishly dressed figure. Ong Kiem Seng’s large watercolor (#045), depicts a temple at Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square. Many structures on the square were later damaged by a major earthquake in 2015. In the collection there are also vivid paintings of flowers by Dutch artists and Piet Van Wyngaert (#048) Johan Dijkstra  (#049). The painting by Ida Bagus Made (#050) depicts an elaborate Melasti purification scene, artistically composed in a setting by the sea. As his works are rarely offered in the market, we are quite happy to obtain it from the collector and present it for sale in our auction this time.

Melasti. tempera on cloth (55cm x 68cm), Poleng, Ida Bagus Made. Signed lower left: "Ida Bagus Made". (Lot #050)

The placement of the resplendent pieces in this auction provides a nice opportunity for collectors active today to enrich their collections with works of remarkable artistic value.