Srihadi Sudarsono is revered as one of the most significant living Indonesian masters of the modern era. Similar to many of his peers, Srihadi was part of the movement that voraciously sought a renewed visual representation of Indonesia. By focusing on finding an innate beauty in his subjects, Srihadi carved out his own artistic identity and proved to be a maestro at expressing his observations with finesse and with exquisite use of colour. In the present lot, he depicts three striking Balinese dancers in the midst of a performance.
With the titular three dancers dominating the picture plane, Janger: Gelora Remaja is a simple yet engaging composition. Srihadi depicts the three dancers as synchronous in their poses and facial expressions; well-rehearsed even in the direction of their gaze. The uniformity in their performance alludes to the graceful discipline that they possess and the sedulous nature of their practice.
What is immediately captivating about Janger: Gelora Remaja is the performative beauty the artist portrays. The detailed depiction of their intricate headdress and fans, ornate necklaces and vibrant costumes envelopes the dancers with an air of regality. The canvas is filled with poised femininity as the dancers cut an elegant, statuesque presence with their slender profiles and swan-like necks. Such feminine quality is further enhanced with their defined eyes and lips, powdered faces and the rich reds and golden yellows of their elaborate costumes.
Moreover, Srihadi adeptly manifests distinct nuances of character in each dancer, thus breaking any static homogeneity that could exist in the composition. These soft subdued differences are made evident in the angle at which the dancers’ heads are titled and in the details of the right-most dancer: her fan is of a different design, her arm is stretched out and revealed as opposed to hidden behind her fan, and her long hair motions more dynamically behind her as a result of her more vigorous pose. Such details may suggest that she plays more of a leading role in the dance. These distinctions imbue a sense of vitality to the characters and impart the painting with life that belies its two-dimensional representation.
Srihadi’s masterful employment of color undoubtedly speaks of his commitment to the emotive and visual power of hues. His virtuoso is seen in the way he paints the negative space behind the dancers, using colors and visible brush work to energize the painting, giving life and movement to the canvas. The direction of his brush strokes follows the flow of the dancers’ skirts, further elongating their figures. Srihadi employs white paint to highlight the silhouette of the dancers, the translucency of the white paint imparts them with a radiance, as if there is a luminescent aura surrounding their being and the characters they play in performance. Srihadi transforms the negative space into a key component of this work, cleverly using it to complement his subject matter as opposed to competing with it.
The beauty that Srihadi emphasizes in Janger: Gelora Remaja reveals the rich heritage of Balinese dance and speaks of the artist’s adoration for his culture and nation. The beauty Srihadi relentlessly pursued was not limited to the physical acts or artefacts of traditional dance but also in its capacity to manifest the spiritual curiosities that concerned him. It was his desire to express harmony between the realms of the mortal-physical and the transcendental-spiritual that made Balinese dance a beloved theme in Srihadi’s oeuvre. Indeed, Janger: Gelora Remaja is a stunning representation of Srihadi’s expression of Indonesian spirituality which he believes to exist in the cultural and historical mores of Indonesia.
 Srihadi Sudarsono cited in Art: At 73 - New Horizons For An Artist, Sonia Kolesnikov- Jessop, The New York Times, February 9 2005
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