Lot 238
  • 238

I Nyoman Masriadi

1,250,000 - 1,850,000 HKD
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  • I Nyoman Masriadi
  • Mr. Kapitalis (Mr. Capitalist)
  • Signed and dated 17 Jan 1999; Signed, titled and dated 1999 on the stretcher
  • Mixed media on canvas
  • 140 by 200 cm.; 55 by 78 3/4 in.


Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, Masriadi: Black Is My Last Weapon, August 22-November 9, 2008, p. 29, illustrated in color.


Singapore Art Museum, Masriadi: Black Is My Last Weapon, Singapore, 2008, p. 29, illustrated in color.

T.K. Sabapathy, Nyoman Masriadi: Reconfiguring the Body, Singapore, 2010, p. 125, illustrated in color.


The work is in good condition overall, as is the canvas. There are indications of minor wear and handling to the edges, but paint layers are well preserved and stable. Under ultraviolet light inspection, there is no evidence of retouching. Framed.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

I Nyoman Masriadi has firmly established himself as dynamic force in Indonesian contemporary art. His paintings are inspired by cinema, anime and computer games, for these were the hobbies that interested him as a child growing up in Gianyar, Bali. The artist’s story is one of rags to riches. Merely ten years after he left university, Masriadi was honoured with his first solo exhibition in Singapore in 2008. Meanwhile he travelled to Australia and the Netherlands for group shows. The success of his first solo show was followed by another three years later in New York City, celebrating the artist’s first solo exhibition in the west, and confirming his reputation as an exciting new voice emerging from the archipelago.

Masriadi is widely respected for his figurative paintings that depict human beings in comedic settings, with his subjects as the punch line of the jokes. An active critic on what he perceives as flaws of modernization, his artworks celebrate the anti-hero, while bringing down the Goliaths in the world. However, while the artist’s oeuvre is largely inspired by satire and parody, Masriadi’s works do express a pathos that may be easily identifiable, and engaging to the viewer. Many of his works are autobiographical, depictions of his childhood, and later his experiences in Yogyakarta as an adult.

"One of my ways of saying something is through my paintings. I want to speak about something, I want to tell something to people, to criticize,” Masriadi explains. “That’s my idea…I tell it through my paintings."

The painting Mr. Kapitalis (Mr. Capitalist) is an exceptional piece from the artist. Created one year after Masriadi left university, the work is demonstrative of his talents as an artist, as well as his growing fascination with the human form. The latter is evident in the painting as per the artist’s experimentation with physique and representation of genders. The characters depicted in the work perfectly exemplify Masriadi’s favoured aesthetics: Men and women whose dark muscular bodies propel the artistic narrative forward, their expressions and gestures exaggerated portrayals of real life interactions. Though at times verging on the grotesque, the figures that occupy his canvases have the unique role of acting as caricatures, while maintaining their ignorance of this fact.

In Lot 238, the group’s dynamic references the urban landscapes of film noir. The characters are captured in dark tones, unhurried and waiting, their futures not yet decided. Standing in his underwear, a man is preoccupied with lighting a cigarette, as he relieves himself over the toilet. Oblivious to that man’s actions, is a couple cuddling and exchanging words, the woman’s eyes appearing distressed by something her companion may have said. Nearby is another woman, sitting on the toilet as she reads a magazine. She too is an island onto herself, separate from the action that is unfolding in the scene.

These are three separate stories depicting intimate moments in a single individual’s life, and yet unbeknownst to them, they are connected by the artist’s creative vision. Though the group exists in a world where they believe themselves to be the sole inhabitants, they are caricatures of material indulgences and modern trappings. As per the title of the work, the painting is perhaps an allegory created purposely for the public eye.

Narration is as important as the painting themselves. I can narrate, but it resonates differently through the act of painting. Sometimes I forget the stories, and have to contemplate deeply to remember. Why do I have to paint to fulfil my narrative? That’s just the way it is," he says.

During the nineties, interest in Indonesian contemporary art was intensified through the practice of installation and performance art. Local artists desired a separation from what they presumed to be the commercialization of art. As painting was readily available, the medium was perceived to be a part of this group. However unlike his peers, Masriadi did not believe that painting was a dying art form. Rather, he perceived it as a visual language, ageless and able to transcend definitions.

In Mr. Kapitalis (Mr. Capitalist), is reflective of this ideology. The painting’s aesthetics and composition allude to the Western artists whom Masriadi studied at the Indonesia Institute of Art in Yogyakarta. It may be said that the work is vaguely reminiscent of cubism. However as was the artist’s want to experiment with differing styles and genres, specifically during this early period of his career, the work is reflective of traditional Balinese figurative painting, as well as local graffiti art and street slang made popular in the country’s larger cities.

"[After 1999 is] when I developed a particular style that explored deformation and the different ways you could draw the human figure. It happened to coincide with the post-Suharto years, but I think that the transition had more to do with me being ready to explore and synthesize my own style," he says.