Palm Trees evinces Affandi’s surrealist and expressionist influences. In eschewing representationalism, Palm Trees reads like a lucid expression of Affandi’s immediate sensory perception of the scene. The brisk and forceful brushstrokes that make up the titular palm trees convey a sense of motion, evoking the presence of a breeze howling about the leaves of the trees. The curved strokes Affandi employs are deliberately hyperbolic, therefore projecting a sense of fluidity and flow. The sun—a recurring motif throughout Affandi’s oeuvre—occupies the right half of the painting. Other than its exaggerated size, the palpitating thick yellow and white lines, intended to convey the rays of the sun, radiate throughout the canvas, as if to convey Affandi’s own experience under the blazing heat of the sun and acknowledgement of its might. Indeed, there is no doubt that the work exudes a palpable sense of energy: from its forceful, irregular brushstrokes to its unapologetic use of bright colors, Palm Trees is undeniably one of Affandi’s most inspired works.
Despite Affandi’s reliance on one single color palette in this work, his maturity as an artist is best exemplified in his effusive use of various hues and shades to convey the effect of light and shadow. Buoyant tints of emerald and yellow line the tips of exposed leaves; more somber shades of grey and black underlie the trunks of the trees. Affandi’s ambitious painting technique and aesthetic style have drawn comparisons to influences as diverse as André Masson’s surrealist automatism to Van Gogh’s post-Impressionism. While his travels overseas to Japan and the European art capitals, such as Paris, London, Brussels and Rome, may certainly have facilitated the maturation of his abstract expressionistic style, there is no doubt that Palm Trees remains, at its core, a loving homage to Indonesia’s landscape, authentically mirroring Affandi’s affection for his homeland.
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