Lot 1080
  • 1080

I NYOMAN MASRIADI | Pemalas Yg Super (A Slouch Who's Super)

1,600,000 - 2,600,000 HKD
2,750,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • I Nyoman Masriadi
  • Pemalas Yg Super (A Slouch Who's Super)
  • signed and dated 15 NOV 2017; signed, titled, inscribed and dated 2017 on the reverse
  • acrylic on canvas
  • 180 by 250 cm; 79 3/4  by 98 1/2  in.

Catalogue Note

This season, Sotheby’s is proud to present a remarkable painting by Bali-born artist I Nyoman Masriadi, who has gained a formidable reputation as one of the leading voices in contemporary Asian Art. Laden with social and political commentary, his works are saturated with sarcasm and satire. As someone who grew up during the Suharto Era (1967-98), Masriadi creates narratives that delve into Indonesian politics, expressing biting commentary with his individual viewpoints. These issues are sometimes difficult, but always relevant. 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. His provocative works often feature characters, illustrated with exaggerated forms and larger-than-life personalities, enacting narrative scenes.  Once more, this artist commands the viewer’s attention with a riveting take on the timeless epithets of heroism – Batman and Superman – coercing the audience to question their superheroes and see through their facades. The present lot, Pemalas Yg Super, is an exceptional work that bewilders viewers with its curious subject matter. The work illustrates a dialogue between Superman and Batman, two superheroes that ubiquitously appear in 20th century pop culture as icons of valiance and machismo. Traditionally, they are revered as gifted, morally upright protagonists who act with integrity, perform good deeds and contribute to society in positive ways. In Pemalas Yg Super, Masriadi defies these conventional roles, suggesting that what society views as their superheroes may in fact be frontages, hiding darker realities. 

The present lot is a sequel to the iconic painting Tanya Saya Tanya Presiden (fig. 1), which was sold at Sotheby’s in September 2007 and broke the artist’s world record price at the time. In Pemalas Yg Super, Masriadi recalls a similar composition to Tanya Saya Tanya Presiden, which also includes an irate subject on the right admonishing another rebuked subject on the left. Shown in side profiles, their countenances dominate the entirety of the picture plane. Masriadi depicts a moment of confrontation between these two idols and zones in on their faces, allowing the viewers to focus on their facial expressions and theatrical hand gestures. Batman’s speech bubble states, “Pemalas Su-per Pemalas Otak Mana?!” (Lazy Su-per Lazy Where Is Your Brain?!), condemning Superman for being lazy and brainless, qualities that contradict his stereotypical superhuman strength and a selfless nature. With furrowed eyebrows and a stern facial expression, he points a finger at Superman.

While Batman’s demeanor and words are visibly accusatory, Superman’s response is defensive yet defiant. Though his hands gesture to ask for forgiveness, he smiles recalcitrantly, almost mocking his contemporary superhero. He is nonchalant, humoring the livid Batman and refusing to take his allegations seriously. This heated interchange, Batman’s wrath versus Superman’s indifference, reveals their most negative characteristics. By revealing the inadequacies of these heroes, Masriadi inspires and encourages the audience to reflect and question those we have placed on pedestals.

In the present lot, both the figures have been painted in unnatural and illogical proportions, with hyperbolically muscular bodies, suggesting the idea of inflated masculinity.1  As the son of a traditional sculptor in Bali, Masriadi utilizes the body in itself as the source of narrative expression in the work. Pemalas Yg Super, exemplifies Masriadi’s artistic explorations of the modern human condition through the body. Paradigmatic to Masriadi’s style, child-like sketches pepper the surface of the work. These naive representations serve as metaphors for more macro socio-political issues. Here, he includes images of pumpkins, race cars and superheroes to conjure descriptions of childhood, suggestive of the notions and beliefs have been ingrained in people from birth.

A groundbreaking and bold artist, his works comment on the socio-political environment and leadership of the country. Masriadi employs satirical visual imagery and poignant narratives to explicate the vagaries of socio-political life in our present environment. He emboldens viewers to eradicate their delusions and come face to face with the realities around them. Daringly, Masriadi continues to challenge the art world’s conventional dialogue and condemns society’s hypocrisies with his uniquely sharp humor.


1 C.D. Sabapathy Ed., Nyoman Masriadi: Reconfiguring the Body, Gajah Gallery, Singapore, 2010, p.18