Lot 1082
  • 1082

Rudi Mantofani

500,000 - 700,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Rudi Mantofani
  • Sofa Bata (Brick Sofa)
  • Signed and dated 2007; signed, titled, inscribed and dated 2007 on the reverse
  • Acrylic on canvas


Sotheby's Hong Kong, October 6 2009, Lot 370
Acquired by the Present Owner from the Above Sale
Private Collection, Taiwan


The work is in good condition overall. No restoration is found under ultraviolet light inspection. Unframed, on a stretcher.
"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

Contemporary art in Indonesia has undergone a metamorphosis with younger artists specializing using fresh vocabularies that instill in the works subversive messages and tongue in cheek innuendoes. A far cry from the modern Indonesian artists’ approach that employed the physical landscape and lives of the people as subject matters to symbolize national pride, contemporary artists are looking at a wider range of topics that touch upon global issues including the environment, socio-politics, economics, religion, and commercialism. These new subject matters incorporated into the paintings provide the young generation of Indonesian artists with a platform to communicate to a larger and international audience base. This cultural reciprocity has subsequently had a positive influence upon the future of contemporary art in Indonesia.

An artist known for his playful use of semiotics and double entendres that invoke in the paintings subtle and yet risqué meanings, Rudi Mantofani’s collection of paintings bring together the concerns and thoughts of an individual who looks at larger world problems and dissects them in the narratives. The present painting entitled Sofa bata (Brick sofa) adheres to the artist’s vocabulary of toying with societal norms, and reinventing them into fictional landscapes that ultimately redefine their overall meanings. The sofa in the current piece references the shadow of its three-dimensional self that the audience is familiar with and is now a part of daily everyday life. However as per Rudi’s colorful attitude the object in question is reimagined as being made up of sold red bricks, and the sitting area now a puddle of rainwater.

A follower of the Surrealist artists Rene Margritte and Salvador Dali who also used similar imagery to address greater societal issues, Rudi’s oeuvre finds its voice in environmental concerns, revisiting the Indonesian landscape and setting it up in narratives that show a parallel universe to the scene at hand. Sofa bata (Brick sofa) continues in this vein, for surrounding the sofa is a nondescript landscape filled with valleys, meadows, and a mountain range that separates the land from the sky. The absence of any other being only builds in the work a certain drama that is provocative in its unsettling quietude. Rudi often depicts the natural landscape as such, notably with the narratives void of disruption brought on by animals or figures. By having the physical environment so stark and empty only highlights the jarring presence of the brick sofa even more, and arrests the audiences’ attention to decipher the meaning behind its enigmatic presence.

Past works from the artist’s oeuvre also touched upon the environment, juxtaposing it with alternate viewpoints that establish a visual dialogue in the paintings. Trees portrayed naturally and in their expected environments are then shown with their doppelganger in different landscapes, this comparison deliberate by the artist to visually antagonize the viewer with the “what if” status of the given narratives. While Sofa bata (Brick sofa) references domesticity and not the organic familiarity of trees and nature, within the painting there remains that unsettling feeling of something being not exactly right, and this discomfort is what instills in Rudi’s overall paintings their power to engage the audience on a mental level, thereby acknowledging the works’ true meanings as well as the artist’s purpose to create it.

The sofa in the self-titled painting alludes to domestic and material comforts, however as with the artist’s known tongue in cheek aesthetics, the present object in its current state is not what the audience would likely purchase to place in their homes. Therefore the painting is a critique on material gain, and what human beings choose to place value over other things. Rudi’s paintings always inspire a dialogue between the narrative and the viewer. However the answers to the questions raised are many times abstract and not concrete, thereby creating a relationship that lasts longer than a mere discerning look from the audience. Continuing with his visual critique on commercialism, the presence of the sofa openly mocks societal pressure to engage in activities that separate the population from healthier means that may encourage a positive relationship with Mother Nature. The current painting emphasizes this dichotomy between fact and fiction, and material wealth over appreciation for the natural environment.

By using surrealist imagery and absurdist aesthetics to have the audience question their lives, Rudi is essentially asking of them to take a step back and analyze their own actions and relationships with the physical environment. Therein lays the strength in Rudi’s subversive messaging, for he has placed a common household object into a dystopian universe, while joyfully toppling down societal paradigms of wealth and comfort along the way. Sofa bata (Brick sofa) is a humorous appropriation of a contemporary object and reinventing its meaning and purpose. With a quick glance Rudi’s domestic satire may be simply a sofa reinvented with new materials. However after realizing the artist’s creative intent and environmental ideologies, the audience comes to better understand the authentic appeal of Sofa bata (Brick sofa), while taking a deeper look at their own lives.