371
371
Hendra Gunawan
TOPENG DANCER (MASK DANCER) 
Estimate
800,0001,500,000
LOT SOLD. 1,000,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
371
Hendra Gunawan
TOPENG DANCER (MASK DANCER) 
Estimate
800,0001,500,000
LOT SOLD. 1,000,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong

Hendra Gunawan
1918-1983
TOPENG DANCER (MASK DANCER) 
Signed and dated 76
Oil on canvas
150 by 95 cm; 59 by 37 1/4  in. 
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Catalogue Note

The Topeng dance is one of the most enchanting, mesmerizing performances in West Java – the birthplace of Indonesian master, Hendra Gunawan. In all its colourful dynamism, and electrifying movement, the topeng dance plays with tradition, myth and the mystic mystery of masks. For Gunawan the dance also signifies the true spirit of Indonesia, brimming with vitality and a multifaceted beauty. In a country striving for independence, the artist sought refuge in these seemingly removed vignettes of agrarian life and imbued them with the bright, richly complex hues of his native land.

Upon viewing the present painting, one is struck by the lively strength of the main protagonist – a woman of seductive appeal and daring charisma. She wears a mask that covers her forehead only to reveal eyes animated by a fury passion, as well as the luscious red lips so deliciously typical of Hendra’s iconic female figures. Caught in mid-air, the dancer’s limbs stretched to the full, contorting in rugged yet graceful movements. Indeed the female embodies the ideals of Hendra Gunawan’s endearing reverence for the rural lifestyle of Indonesia. The artist took pleasure in observing and capturing women’s daily customs and dignified practices which he saw as unfettered by complications of cosmopolitan life. In fact the artist was inspired by his mother, frequently fashioning women as an emblem of the warmth and tenacity of human relationships.

Below the main figure is her dancing partner, who could be either a male or female counterpart. They mirror each other’s hand choreography, arching their elongated fingers backward and demonstrating the dance’s coordinated flow. The kinetics of the composition is reiterated in Hendra’s distinct convolutions of strokes, coiling with energy seen even in the minutia of her costume—a product of the painter’s masterful yet fluid control of his brush.

Strikingly electric with an unrestrained flirtatiousness, Topeng Dancer displays Hendra’s acute confidence in figuration as the dancer appears to leap out of the picture’s frame. Furthermore the current work exemplifies Hendra’s affinity for intense hues, which are daringly mixed on the canvas to produce a palette on the verge of a garish yet enticing appearance. Here, the artist generously employs a brilliant purple, cyans and scorching oranges, imbuing the painting with an arresting affinity for the tropical colours that populate Hendra’s most memorable works.

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong