In the high tower where you have gone before
Where you have turned away
From the world’s noise and show”
“To Affandi, The Painter” by Chairil Anwar
If the turbulent 1950s witnessed the maturation of Affandi’s signature artistic idiom, the present work, Affandi’s Self Portrait (1960), represents a culmination of his innovative experimentations with different artistic techniques and analytic sensibilities. A riveting interplay of color, line and textured paint, the present lot is a remarkable testament to Affandi’s artistic maturation: produced in 1960, it bears all the hallmarks of Affandi’s signature artistic vocabularies—vivid hues are directly applied onto the canvas and smeared into a spellbinding permutation of dramatic curves, fluid swirls and dynamic waves. Consistent with the chromatic expressivity of his entire oeuvre, Affandi’s color palette in this work is characteristically vibrant and warm: his visage, contoured with an amber outline, is bathed in bold shades of vermilion, scarlet and maroon; in contrast to the heavy strokes constituting his ink-black hair, his wispy facial hair is finely rendered in swirls of viridian and indigo, lending the work a captivating sense of color harmony; the background, deliberately left sparse, bears faint markings of Affandi’s palms and fingers in olive green.
Now canonized as a pioneering luminary in the history of Indonesian art, Affandi had developed his unique style of paint application by the early 1960s, eschewing the constraints of brushwork for the spontaneity and rawness of hand smearing. The creation of art was therefore both physically laborious and psychologically intense for Affandi: the artist would often apply the material directly from the tube and spread it thinly across the canvas by hand as a direct expression of his subjectivity, unmediated by any external interlocutors. Affandi’s boundary-pushing artistic praxis forces viewers to read his works deictically: despite his vast oeuvre of self-portraitures, each portrait is markedly distinct from the others, acting as both a physical index and a textual embodiment of Affandi’s interiority, affective state and psychological life at the moment of production.
While Affandi’s facial features remain discernible under the spirited lines traversing the canvas, customary concerns over representational realism cease to be of paramount significance in this work. Rather, the present lot stands out as a piercing and deeply intimate record of Affandi’s self-reflection. Drawing on Freudian terminology, Erika Billeter argues that ‘Every self portrait is a dialogue with the ego’. From Rembrandt van Rjin’s brooding self-portraits to Egon Schiele’s uncompromisingly brutal nudes to Frida Kahlo’s striking Surrealist studies, many artists have used self-portraits as a means of exploring the tensions between their basal drives and ego states, privileging inner life over formal experimentation. Produced against the backdrop of sociopolitical upheaval—the 1950s witnessed the dissolution of the Constitutional Assembly and the implementation of martial law—the present lot was correspondingly borne out of Affandi’s turn to interiority as he grew disillusioned with “the world’s noise and show.” Affandi himself confesses that when he felt he was failing with the rest of his work, he would turn to painting self-portraits as a process of critical self-examination. Affandi’s Self Portrait (1960) thus marks his attempts at exploring his psychologically state both imaginatively and therapeutically, simultaneously to cathartically process his psychic life through unfiltered expression and to retrieve an authenticity to be found within.
 Erika Billeter, Self-Portraiture in the Age of Photography, p. 8
 Jim Supangkat. Affandi, ed. Sardjana Sumichan, Bina Lestari Budaya Foundation Jakarta and Singapore Art Museum, 2007, p. 64
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