A truly seminal artist from the modern art era, Affandi had a remarkably visual language, which originated from his masterful ability to express the emotions and energy he feels from a scene. He spent a large part of his childhood in a coastal town in Java and was raised near small fishing villages, cultivating a kinship with its folk and way of life. The open seascapes of his childhood left him so enthralled by the forces of nature that he continued to hold a deep reverence for and personal connection to nature’s poeticism. Resultantly, Affandi’s representation of natural forces are a well-recognized feature of vitality throughout his body of work.
Perahu Kusamba is an energetic depiction of the traditional Indonesian fishing boat, the Jukung. Affandi paints the jukung resting on shore, with small flourishes of green illustrating seaweed that remains stuck on its kater, suggesting the boat’s return from an earlier fishing trip. It is conceivable that this seascape is captured during the low tide, as the edge of the water is placed further back in the composition, marked as short dashes of azure blue across the horizon. In rendering the renowned black sand of the titular Kusamba beach, Affandi layers in pigments of burnt umber to create a rich, warm-toned black. As if mirroring the warmth of black sand on a hot day, the composition is given a subliminal sense of dimension.
The sun too is a recurring symbol in Affandi’s works, often portrayed in its natural splendor as the Earth’s most powerful source of energy. With his classic impasto strokes to define the sun’s rays, the artist portrays light that simply spills over the land and sea, beaming from high above in its majesty. An outpouring of vitality, the mix of golden yellows, whites and blue paints are placed directly onto the canvas and moved with Affandi’s intuitive gestures. The sun thus becomes a motif representative of the artist's respect for the rhythm of natural forces and of his own effusive, tactile painting technique.
Though Affandi never fails to complement the beauty native to Bali, Perahu Kusamba is special as he renders the boat in close-up, detailed form. The jukung is an impressive sight on the shore, with its carved prow cast forward and its ornate bow pointing upwards – its formidable depiction belying its slim frame. Flourishes of red and yellow depict the patterns painted on the boat’s body while strokes of blue note the sashes tied to the mast, flowing in the sea breeze. The artist’s perspective of the vessel reveals the most curious characteristics of the traditional jukungs – an eye and its ‘earrings’, denoted by the white curves next to the eye. These embellishments are culturally significant as they mark the jukung’s origins, signifying that it belongs to the Kusamba village. Affandi’s interpretation of and re-imagination of the scene gives the viewers insight to these such local vignettes, through a new Indonesian visual identity. In this lot, the jukung is spotlighted as a symbol of village identity and stands as the connection between people and their natural resources.
Undeniably spirited, Affandi represents his affections for these landscapes through a pioneering visual identity. Perahu Kusamba is an exuberant work from Affandi’s oeuvre, a joyful ode to the nature’s forces and the artist’s relationship with the local. Above all, it is representative of Affandi’s salutation of the everyday through his outstanding artistic sensibilities – an indisputable affirmation to one of the greatest artists from Southeast Asia.
 Jim Supangkat, ‘Affandi and Self-Portrait’, Affandi: Volume I, ed. Sumichan et al, Bina Lestari Budaya Foundation Jakarta and Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, 2007, p.66
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