Freely fusing, yet visually understated, this sculpture is a rare and meaningful piece that stands out amongst Mochtar’s vast body of work. Embodying his most visited and iconic theme, family, Mochtar depicts a family of three, dynamically interlocked as they overlap against one another. Since Mochtar and his wife struggled for a long time before conceiving their child, the construct of a family as a unit has always had a dominating presence in his opus. This sculpture serves as a deeply moving and emotionally powerful piece on the eternal relationships that family creates, as Mochtar celebrates the continuation of life, sharing with us the idea that everything in time is inevitably connected through the frameworks of human existence. Mochtar crafts an articulate exercise on form, as he draws from the concept of cubist deformation, reducing the physical complexities of his figures into singular organic forms, effectively molding their features to create smooth, angular silhouettes. Here, we see Mochtar’s varied exposure to the aesthetics of modern art movements in the West: the craggy textures of Alberto Giacometti’s shapes, the abstracted compositions of Henry Moore’s monuments and the versatility of Richard Serra’s materials. Mochtar embraces this striking confluence of the non-representational and representational, and plays with the viewers’ perspective, as each of the figures stand independently when looked at from the front, and only appear to be interlinked when perceived from the side.
The permanence of family is unveiled, as Mochtar expresses his everlasting love and loyalty towards his wife and child and commemorates the beauty of humanistic values. The framework of Mochtar’s sculpture reveals both a lightness and strength, as the hollowed figures delineate a rigid geometry that is reminiscent of the ideologies of cubist simplification and abstraction. Vertically orientated, the prominent lines carve out the perimeters of each figure, whose features are further enhanced through the elemental properties of the medium. Mochtar pays particular attention to the tactility and materiality of his sculptures as he navigates alternative methods of visual representation - weathered, eroded and pared down to its most elemental propoments, the rough brittleness of the sculpture is dynamically countered by its inherent solid form, which imbues a sense of enduring strength and permanence to the work. Visually and structurally connected, Mochtar prompts us to contemplate the strong emotional ties that family undoubtedly brings, as the figures’ stances depend on the intrinsic interlinks that they have with each other. The profound understanding that Mochtar has for the architectonic and geometrical aesthetics in sculpture is illuminated in this present lot, as he experiments with the existing methodologies of his era in order to bring about a new form of expression to Indonesia’s modern art movement. Remembered as a pioneer for sculpture as an art form in Southeast Asia, Mochtar’s opus is one that goes beyond the boundaries of cubism and abstraction, as he permeates his works with an unparalleled emotive language and visual fluency.
“The tendency to arrange lines, forms, patterns and colours became one of the main strategies in the creative process of painters in the abstract style… in which objects are no longer easily recognizable. [Mochtar’s] experiences, ideas and emotions were turned into lines, shapes, planes and colors, without clear and exact references to any social form or condition.”[i]
[i] Enin Supriyanto, The Journey of Indonesian Painting: The Bentara Budaya Collection, Bentara Budaya, 2008, p. 18-19
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