The artist’s pilgrimage to Bali in 1939 was integral to his creative catharsis and development. However, the exotic ‘difference’ of the island was only to serve as a background to his intended messages. Rather, he was looking for ‘situations’, Balinese or not, in which he could evoke personal meaning. He was especially drawn towards the traditional dance and ceremonies he observed on the island. The current painting captures one of his favored themes – a beautiful penari or dancer in full costume. Set against a simple background, the figure’s stance exudes an alluring boldness, as she rests her arms at her hips.
Painted in 1969, the present lot captures Affandi at the height of his career and demonstrates his mastery of his trademark style. Here, his strokes are confident and strong, as opposed to his looser movements in his later works. Affandi is renowned for his technique of squeezing oil paint directly onto the canvas and smearing them with his hands and fingers. This form of expression is so intimate and revealing, that the viewer can almost feel the frenzied, rapid movements of his arm across the canvas--vitality and energy emanating from each stroke.
Juxtaposed against the dark, emerald backdrop, where a temple lies in the distance and dogs run freely, the dancer is illuminated in a warm golden, glow. The beautiful coloration highlights her blossoming youth. Traditionally, legong dancers are young girls who commit themselves to tirelessly honing their craft, and are well-respected figures in society. In the present painting, the dancer dominates the pictorial space. Dressed in her resplendent costume and a painstakingly rendered sarong, she stands with poise and elegance. In Affandi’s eyes she is a picture of quiet confidence, yet her vigilant and focused stare reveals a sense of anticipation as she waits for her performance. Her head is adorned with a flamboyant headdress—colorful, swirling lines of impasto spiral from the dancer’s crown, forming a majestic halo.
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