“Working from outdoors, he looked for scenes he could endow with personal symbolic meaning(s)—to connote human suffering or express the whirling of natural forces.”[i]
Affandi’s paintings are imbued with symbolic meanings to connote basic human conditions. Hence, the Barong dance depicted here is not only a portrayal of an extraordinary event, but also symbolizes the eternal struggle of these opposite forces. Demonstrated through an explicit emotional resonance with his chosen subject matters via the action of painting, the Barong is a motif that the artist revisits time and time again during his trips to Bali.
Bali was a place of refuge for Affandi; an island that was alluring not only for it’s culture and folklore but as a site that was removed from the chaos of the cities of Indonesia. The island became a place where, through his practice, he could reflect and revel in both the physical and spiritual worlds. The Barong was a symbol of opposing forces that to the Balinese, hold numerous connotations and each of Affandi’s individual Barong paintings were singular in expressing them. Executed in 1980, the beast as subject matter is depicted alone, signifying its glorious triumph. By capturing boldly the feisty spirit of the Barong, the painting can be seen as a reflection of the times; perhaps, the work alludes to the relative political instability surrounding Indonesia in the 1980’s and suggests through implicit symbolism, that forces of good will always trump evil.
Painted in the artist’s signature chaotic style, Barong is executed with quick, spontaneous strokes that capture an animated spirit. Applying paint directly from the paint tubes onto the canvas, Affandi did not mix his pigments to mimic nature; rather he sought to capture the primal energy of the depicted moment. Using mostly primary colors to represent these principle forces of nature, Affandi spreads the paints with his fingers, palms and wrists. In this vein, the artist aimed to present his subject matter in their most raw and direct manner.
The dancing Barong which occupies the majority of the pictorial space, asserts the creature’s daunting and almost intimidating presence. The head of the beast is detailed in bright red; its eyes lively and fearsome. The body of the beast, usually made of palm leaf fibers, is delineated with long flurried lines, creating a vision of exaggerated movement. The dark dyes of the fibers in black, red and yellow are conveyed via thick swirls and swivels of impasto, emphasizing dramatically, the body of the Barong. Finally, the green parasol descending from above on the upper right periphery of the painting heightens the dynamic nature of the scene and symbolizes a celebratory moment.
Every pilgrimage to Bali was deemed a visual and symbolic stimulus and was cathartic to Affandi. His frequent visits resulted in some of the most exquisite works bursting with color and life. Through his artistic practice, Affandi captures, celebrates and deliberates on the human condition as an observer; a participant and reveler of life in this world and beyond. A dynamic and vigorous composition, the present lot is a classic image by the expressive artist, one that exemplifies his perseverance to return to and capture places and moments that profoundly moved him.
[i] Jean Couteau, “Affandi in Indonesia”, ed. Sardjana Sumichan, Affandi Volume II, Binta Lestari Budaya Foundation and Singapore Art Museum 2007, p. 39
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale