Lot 1083
  • 1083

I Nyoman Masriadi

1,600,000 - 2,500,000 HKD
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  • I Nyoman Masriadi
  • Two Colour
  • Signed and dated 8-8-2014; signed, titled, inscribed, and dated 2014 on the reverse
  • Acrylic on canvas


This work is in good overall condition as viewed. 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

Within Southeast Asian contemporary art the human body has been appropriated and redefined as a visual tool to dissect human existence. The Indonesian artist I Nyoman Masriadi has devoted much of his artworks to the human physique, the paintings being seen as both a commentary and analysis of contemporary society and the artist’s own personal history. He is an active critic of Indonesia’s socio-politics, with the works a tongue in cheek and oftentimes sardonic look at the excess lifestyle that modernity brings with it.

The present work entitled Two Colour references the human personality. The artist is playing with the Freudian concepts of the Ego and the Id that influence and subsequently define the psyche. As seen in the painting the individual is separated into two colours, a clean divide of identities establishing depth in a painting that is otherwise absent of context. Masriadi is known to have the paintings’ titles act as an extension of the narratives. The present work is no exception. Similar with the dialogue in a cartoon strip that enhances and moves forward the plotline of the scenes, the artist’s chosen title also helps build up the story of the man’s supposed purpose and role in the current work. The title Two Faces is a literal translation of the man’s physical appearance, as well as a nod to the psychological undercurrents that inspire the contents of the painting.

The artist is also known to leave clues that enable the audience to better understand the message behind the works. In Two Colour there is written on the man’s t-shirt “I’ve got plans”. A seemingly innocent phrase that can be read in many different ways, Masriadi’s use of the term has a slightly veiled meaning when paired with the man’s facial expression and raised hand gesture. The latter is a curious detail, for again there are dual meanings behind this physical of act holding the hands as such. Either the man is greeting the audience, a reference to the artist’s Asian culture, or he is rubbing his hands together in lieu of a plan he is plotting. The decision by the artist to have the man painted in two opposing colours further instils a sense of drama within the narrative. While the painting at first glance appears to be void of much plot structure, the man the sole character in his universe, after breaking down the title and applying it to the scene at hand, the audience comes to realize that there is much more to the painting than meets the eye.

It should be noted that Masriadi’s depiction of the human body revolves largely around the male physique, with the paintings featuring a colourful cast of male characters. Very rarely do women feature in the works. By choosing to focus on the masculine form the artist is initially studying his own physical makeup to better understand his place in society. There is almost a cartoonish, animated flair to the paintings as well, an allusion to the artist’s interest in comic books, graffiti and street art. A repeated motif is the artist’s re-interpretation of the male body as muscular, athletic, slightly aggressive, and painted in black or brown. The man in the present work references this aesthetic perfectly.

While the figure in Two Faced is actively seeking a connection with the viewer, his demeanour with the wide toothy grin and unflinching gaze communicates otherwise. It is this contradictory behaviour that Masriadi emphasizes in the painting, commenting that this conflict is essentially the basis for all human beings’ decisions, emotions, integrity, and relationships. No individual is black or white, for within everyone is a host of complex thoughts and feelings that guide their actions. Therefore the man in Two Colour who is both the antagonist and protagonist represents the many facets of human existence. Reminiscent of Mr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde who shared two personalities in the body of one man, the individual in the current work belies his simple storyline and serves as a reminder of the warring identities that reside in every person.

A keen observer of the human form, Masriadi’s depiction of the body leans largely towards caricature, exaggerating physical traits to expose the innate personalities and emotions of the individuals he chooses to paint. All physical fallacies and faults on full display for the audience to openly critique and review. Partly to address the existential emotions that colour everyday interactions and relationships, the presence of the human body in Masriadi’s paintings also serves as a mirror for the audience to reflect upon. Two Colour is ultimately a visual dialogue between the nameless man and the audience. To depict a character that has “I’ve got plans” printed on their clothes is very much a playful jab from the artist to the discerning public. Masriadi is employing semiotics to challenge people out of their urban life complacency.