"People often ask Affandi when did he actually shift to expressionism, and when did he become captivated by themes of everyday life and people. As might be expected of his character, Affandi can not recall himself when he made the changes. Maybe it is impossible for any artist to know precisely when he left one style and began experimenting with another. Styles change through a gradual process. The change takes place almost imperceptibly so that we can not see clear stylistic demarcations. Shifts in style are usually the result of a reflective selection of a number of stimuli and inputs. Only after some period of time. When the artist has thought about and experimented sufficiently, can we say that there has been an actual shift in the artist's style. For Affandi, themes of everyday life seem to have always been a source of inspiration."
UMAR KAYAM CITED IN RAKA SUMICHAN, AFFANDI, JAKARTA 1987, P. 219
With his large-scale, full-length portraits of Indonesian archetypes from the 1960s Affandi articulates the excitement of the developing new republic, transforming the common man into icon, celebrating the soul of the people, whose lives have always been connected to the region's lands and seas. It is interesting that the starting point of such works lies in classic Western art, in this case the full-length portraiture of old masters such as Titian and Velazquez. However the realism of these models are completely subverted by Affandi's characteristically frenzied paint scrawls. The present work is a strong example of his skill. The fluidity of his strokes is perhaps not surprising considering he was trained in the art of brush painting during the Japanese occupation. He once confided, in his usual modesty, that he feared his own dexterity with the technique: "his 'hand became so skillful that it could catch what he saw with just a few strokes.' This hand of his, acting as if independent of his own will and consciousness, was what had frightened him – the hand had become 'too skillful.'" (Claire Holt, Art in Indonesia, Continuities and Change, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, p. 198).
Man with Cockerels exemplifies the artist at his best. Completed in 1965, during his most critically acclaimed decade, after he had travelled extensively, gained international recognition and exhibited works in various biennals and exhibitions, including the Arte Indonésia Contemporânea exposition at the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro in 1964, the painting possesses a riveting charm. The swirling, seemingly moving impastos echo the spirit and energy with which Affandi perceives life. The raw emotion it depicts ultimately celebrates his joie de vivre, making it one of the best examples of Affandi's mastery as an Expressionist.
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