Affandi : the Prime Years (1960s)
Affandi is undoubtedly a very prominent figure in the Indonesian art scene. Alongside Sudjojono and Hendra Gunawan, the three of them are considered as the founding fathers of modern art in Indonesia.
As a self-taught artist, Affandi developed an interest in painting early in his career in the art world. At the age of seven, Affandi was able to remember all the wayang kulit (shadow puppets) figures, which until now have become an integral part of visual culture in Indonesia. The artist's adventures in the world of painting were traversed through a commercial route, starting as a billboard painter among several other jobs he was engaged in. However, he was always aware that it was his artistic spirit and self-reliance that inspired him to pursue painting and spawn works of art from what he saw and felt.
In an interview with Tempo magazine in 1987, the artist explained: "I want to capture such signs, the signs of the natural forces, but I can never capture them completely. I always try, but I always fail." He added, "When I paint, I always want to become one with the object I paint. I lose myself, and then there is a feeling as if I'm going to fight against something."
For Affandi, feeling played a crucial role in his process of creation. His expressionistic style of painting suited him best because the style allowed him to deal with his urgency to project his feeling towards an object onto a canvas. Although it is not known when he exactly he moved towards expressionism, this shift had started to appear during 1940s.
Two outstanding "1960s" pieces by Affandi are offered in this sale. Lot 916, titled "Parangtritis" and dated 1963 is a large and superlative piece, the earliest work of the Affandis in this sale. The painting is a fine example of the artist's classic expressionistic style, using intense colours and spontaneous strokes, giving a full display of dramatic scene on to the canvas. Parangtritis is a well-known beach located in Yogyakarta, a frequent destination of the artist. This painting is like a stage that shows a view of Parangtritis beach under the sun, crowning the top of the hill while the waves caressing the foot of the hill. The busy morning activities did not escape Affandi's observation. On the left-hand corner we could see people look so immersed in a serious conversation, while some others are playing happily on the beach, looking for fish. This work sums up Affandi's extraordinary skills as both: a painter and a story teller.
Lot 919 titled "In Lust", executed in 1967, is an aggressive and energetic work. "In Lust" is not an erotic painting. It actually reflects the "years of living dangerously" in Indonesia at the time after the fall of Sukarno and the rise of Soeharto. Affandi cleverly used the image of a wild board running around and chasing after the weaker ones.
It is clear that Affandi executed this hungry wild boar with an incredible level of detail, showing that the artist spent a lot of time recording the little things. The chaotic effect of his hasty movement is reflected in his bold strokes of paints, which he squeezed from his tube and applied directly to the surface of the canvas. From "In Lust" we can see the extraordinary technique of rhythm and enchanting vitality of the subject depicted by the maestro.