Lot 1069
  • 1069


2,800,000 - 5,000,000 HKD
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  • Affandi
  • Barong
  • Signed and dated 1972; signed and dated 1972 on the reverse
  • Oil on canvas


Private Collection, Indonesia


This work is in very good overall condition as viewed. There are very few stable cracks to pigment at areas of very thick impasto, consistent with the medium and age of the work and only visible upon very close inspection. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals no sign of restoration. 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

The paintings of Affandi bear a distinctive expressionistic tendency that situates him at a specific juncture in Indonesian history and the world history at large. Considered as one of the most renowned expressionist painters of the twentieth century, Affandi left an indelible mark on the modern history of Indonesia, while his unique painting method contributed to the scope of expressionism on the global platform. The personal expression that Affandi developed and the themes he chose to depict could be understood as an extension of the ideology he advocated throughout his life, for the art historian Jean Couteau describes him as “an exponent of the idea of a trans-ethnic humanistic national Indonesian identity,” in both his life and his paintings. Representing Indonesia at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1953 and the Venice Biennale in 1964, Affandi became the first Indonesian artist to draw international attention. His artistic achievement afforded him the opportunities to hold solo exhibitions in Europe and to paint in different parts of the world. During his sojourns abroad, Affandi was exposed to key European artists of Western art history. Sharing an impassioned affinity with the anti-idealistic wave of artists such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Edvard Munch and Vincent van Gogh, Affandi also embarked on an artistic journey to transcend the humble and the ordinary of his home country. 

Born in 1907, Affandi was acquainted with the nationalist leaders and intellectuals since his youth. As such, the prevalent revolutionary ideals such as nationalism and socialism were ingrained into his intellectual upbringing, which eventually inspired him to become an active player in the nation’s long struggle for independence. A founding father of Seniman Indonesia Moeda (SIM, Young Indonesian Artists) in 1945, Lembaga Pelukis Rakyat (The People’s Painters’ Association) in 1947, and Gabungan Pelukis Indonesia (GPI, Union of Indonesian Painters) in 1948, Affandi sought to eradicate the fictive imageries of his country and people constructed under the spell of Western colonial presence. He was actively reacting against the pre-existing modes of representations; thus deeming the Mooi Indie (Beautiful Indies) portrayal of the archipelago to be merely another form of “Western-inspired naturalism”(P.10), and the stylisation of the Pita-Maha format in Bali to be indirectly endorsing the notion of exotic difference endorsed by Western primitivist painters. For Affandi, these orientalist portrayals of his country would ultimately foster the status quo maintained by the colonial structure of power. He envisioned a genuine pan-Indonesian modernism that focused on the depiction of true social conditions as experienced by commoners and the indigenous people.

Painted in 1972, the present Lot is a portrayal of a traditional Balinese mythological character known as the Barong. The lion-like creature is the king of all spirits and symbolizes the Good. He is an enemy of Rangda, the demon queen and mother of Evil. The battle between Barong and Rangda is featured in the Barong Dance to represent the eternal battle between good and evil. Barong here is depicted alone therefore signifying its glorious triumph. In quick, spontaneous strokes, Affandi described the vitality of the dancing Barong, which takes up majority of the pictorial space. The feet are deliberately enlarged to emphasize action; while the thick fluid delineation of Barong’s black hairy body suggests the vigor of dance. The dynamism of the scene is heightened by the green parasol descending from above, symbolizing a celebratory moment. Affandi breathed life into his canvas: the vibrating lines of colours and prominent impastos swirl and swivel in a rhythmic motion to elucidate an immediate impression of the Barong dance.

Painting directly from paint tubes onto raw canvas, Affandi did not mix his pigments to mimic nature. But rather, his essential concern was to capture the primal energy of the depicted moment, therefore using mostly primary colours to represent the primary forces of nature. Applying pigments straight from their manufactured formats, Affandi aimed to present his subject matters in their most raw and direct manner. Spreading the paints with his fingers, palms and wrists, Affandi demonstrated an explicit emotional resonance with his chosen subject matters via the action of painting. A keen onlooker of the world and a pathfinder of universal truths, Affandi’s paintings are imbued with symbolic meanings to connote the basic human conditions. “Working from outdoors, the looked for scenes he could endow with personal symbolic meaning(s)—to connote human suffering or express the whirling of natural forces.” (P.39) Hence, the Barong dance depicted here is not only a portrayal of an extraordinary event but it also symbolizes the struggle of opposite forces.

The island of Bali served as a cathartic site where Affandi affirmed his social and spiritual symbolisms; it was a special place that stimulated his stylistic breakthrough and transcended his artistic practice. Evident in the present painting is an outstanding energy-driven expressionism and a profound attempt to root his subject matter to the cosmic.