Lot 1048
  • 1048


1,800,000 - 2,800,000 HKD
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  • Affandi
  • Barong
  • Signed and dated 1966
  • Oil on canvas


Private Collection, Canada


This work is in good overall condition as viewed. There is evidence of light wear along the edges of the canvas due to abrasions with the frame, but this does not affect the overall image as they are covered by the frame itself. There is a very small tear to the canvas on the bottom left corner but this does not affect the image as it is covered by the frame itself and is likely consistent with the artist's working method. Upon extremely close inspection, there are signs of very light craquelure on some areas of thick impasto however this is consistent with the nature and age of the medium. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals tiny areas of restoration on the edges of the work and on some areas of thick impasto, but this is not visible with the naked eye. 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.

Catalogue Note

Affandi painted this work in 1966 during the peak of his creative process after spending five years abroad in India and Europe during the first half of the 1950s, a journey that transcended his artistic practice. Executed with remarkable ardour and confidence, the present painting demonstrates Affandi’s full expression and stylistic breakthrough in the scope of expressionism on the global platform. Evident in the present painting is an outstanding energy-driven expressionism and a profound attempt to root his subject matter to the cosmic.

His [style] was an expressionism of a lyrical nature, tying together, indivisibly, both message and expression, and heading, in a questioning way, toward what the Javanese call Manunggaling Kawula Gusti—the union of the self and the Divine.”1

Born in 1907, Affandi was acquainted with the nationalist leaders and intellectuals at a young age. The prevalent revolutionary ideals were therefore ingrained into his intellectual upbringing and 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 created a new form of art that foiled the romantic imageries of his country and people constructed under the spell of Western colonial presence. Representing Indonesia at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1953 and the Venice Biennale in 1964, Affandi introduced an unprecedented method and style of painting that established him as 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 travels abroad, Affandi was exposed to key European artists of Western art history; he was particularly inspired by the wave of Expressionists and Symbolists painters. Sharing similar artistic ideals with the likes of Vincent Van Gogh and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Affandi displayed high sensitivity towards the human condition and utilised colours to express the psychological states of his depicted subjects with the goal to transcend the humble and the ordinary of his home country. He envisioned a genuine pan-Indonesian modernism that focused on the depiction of true social conditions as experienced by commoners and the indigenous people.

Was he inspired by European expressionism? If this is what taught him “freedom” from canonical rules, then perhaps, yes. But European expressionist artists emphasized features or colours to better underline a message they wanted to convey. Their purpose was to express something rather than to achieve “expression” proper. Affandi’s creative mechanism was different: even though he was always inspired by the real, it was “expression” he was after, the message being inseparable from it. This made him conceptually closer to what the surrealists had advised and the American expressionists later practiced – letting out one’s expressive energy by letting loose all normative constraints.” 2 

The current lot depicts a traditional Balinese mythological character known as Barong; the mythical animal personifies the king of all Good spirits, whose archenemy is Rangda, the demon queen and mother of all Evil spirits. The Barong Dance, which describes the battle between good (Dharma) and evil (Adharma), symbolises the intertwining of two opposite forces and the complex relationship between man and supernatural. Here, Affandi painted the Barong in its full glory at the moment of great triumph. Breathing life into his canvas, Affandi squeezed paints directly onto the canvas allowing the medium to swirl and swivel in a rhythmic motion to elucidate an immediate impression of the dancing creature. He did not mix his pigments to mimic nature; but rather, he sought to use colours metaphorically to capture the primal energy of the depicted moment and to present his subject matters in their most raw and direct manner. Furthermore, the use of predominantly primary colours would induce a visual clashing akin to the struggle between the opposite forces of the Barong and Rangda. Spreading oil paints with his fingers, palms and wrists, Affandi demonstrated an explicit emotional resonance through the action of painting. He captured the vitality of the Barong in gestural and spontaneous delineation, whose body extends to the full size of the canvas. The undulating body and moving legs suggest vigour, passion and life. The dynamism of the scene is further heightened by the red parasol descending from the top left corner and thus signifying a celebratory moment. 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.3 Hence, Affandi’s depiction of the Barong here is not only a portrayal of an extraordinary event but it also symbolizes the struggle of opposing forces inherent to the human condition.

Sardjana Sumichan, Affandi, Vol II, Bina Lestari Budaya Foundation, Jakarta, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, 2007, p. 43.
Ibid., p. 1.
3 Ibid.,  p. 39.