Lot 369
  • 369

Hendra Gunawan

1,600,000 - 2,500,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Hendra Gunawan
  • Market By Mount Merapi
  • Signed and dated 58
  • Oil on canvas
  • 104 by 144 cm.; 40 3/4 by 56 1/2 in.


Private Collection, Amsterdam


The work is in good condition overall. The canvas is clear and sound. There are indications of light wear and handling on the margins, along with associated gentle and soft craquelures, particularly on the sky (mainly located on the top, left and right register). Upon close observation, there are a few scattered pin-sized paint losses, primarily located on the margins, the left center of the sky, the right side of the mountain and on a figure's face (lower left). Under ultraviolet light examination, indication of restoration was not evident. 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

Hendra Gunawan has established himself as a respected artist, and influential figure in the emergence of Indonesian modern art. As an artist, he witnessed Indonesia’s political turmoil, and participated as a resistance fighter assisting in the country’s struggle for independence.

The artist’s works reflected this dichotomy as man’s conflicted, and subsequently existential, relationship to his environment, a reoccurring theme throughout his career. Market by Mount Merapi perfectly demonstrates this psychological exchange. The villagers continue their daily activities, whilst a volcano occupies the foreground, a silent force in their pastoral lives. It was the artist’s choice depiction of ordinary people and their quiet existence that provided insight into a country experiencing a political transition.

Due to his involvement with the communist-sponsored Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat (Lekra or the People’s Cultural Association), Hendra Gunawan was imprisoned for thirteen years under the Suharto government, following the 1965 Gestapu coup.
Though he continued to paint in prison, it should be noted that the artist’s existing oeuvre may consist of less than 200 pieces, for many works have been recorded as lost. Therefore the painting, Market by Mount Merapi, is an exceptional piece, not simply for the skills of the artist, but for its pictorial legacy as part of Indonesia’s modernist movement.

A self-taught painter whose origins began in theatre stage set design, it was Hendra Gunawan’s chance encounter in 1939 with Indonesian expressionist painter Affandi, which inspired him to incorporate bright colours and expressive brushstrokes into his works. The artist’s creative associations further played a role in the context of his artwork. He met Sudjana Kerton when he joined the Sanggar Pelukis Rakyat (People's Artists' Studio). The artist’s revolutionary themes inspired Hendra Ganuwan’s paintings, and consequently his own political views too.

In Market by Mount Merapi Hendra Gunawan portrays each person in their defined roles within their community. From the fresh fruit sellers, to the man with his cart and buffalo, as well as the children playing in the road, each individual has a clear presence in the artwork. The volcano may symbolize the uncertainty of the future, signifying the formidable influence, and omnipresence of the natural world, as well as standing as a symbol of the passions that lie dormant in the human heart.

Market by Mount Merapi demonstrates the importance community may have in a country’s modernization. The painting is a celebration of rural life amidst a nation on the verge of revolution. Ultimately, it is an exploration of an individual’s relationship with his (natural and social) environment