418
418
Affandi
FIGHTING COCKS
Estimate
700,000900,000
JUMP TO LOT
418
Affandi
FIGHTING COCKS
Estimate
700,000900,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong

Affandi
1907 - 1990
FIGHTING COCKS
Signed and dated 76
Oil on canvas 
98 by 125 cm; 38 1/2  by 49 in. 
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Provenance

Christie's Hong Kong, 29 May 2005, Lot 75
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Private Asian Collection

Literature

Sardjana Sumichan ed., Affandi, Volume I, Bina Lestari Budaya Foundation, Jakarta and Singapore Art Museum, 2007, p. 155, colorplate

Catalogue Note

Dated 1976, Cockfight was painted almost 40 years after Affandi’s first visit to Bali and is a riveting work that demonstrates the artist’s skill at the height of his prowess. Incredibly effusive, the present work is testament to his enthralment with Balinese culture and its native rituals. Throughout the many years Affandi had spent visiting Bali, his accumulative experience was an unending source of inspiration for him. Untouched by commercialization or tourism, the Bali that Affandi saw was a rich amalgamation of spirituality, artistry and circadian ways. Rural social life was governed by the natural cycles and intertwined with the indigenous religious calendars. Exposure to the unassuming nature of the land and its people fueled Affandi’s desire to express the Indonesian spirit through his own unique and attentive lens.

One of the most inspired motifs in Affandi’s oeuvre is the Balinese cockfighting ritual – an event that captivated the artist’s imagination. The dramatic energy, sensory potency and interpretative depth of the tajen, as it is known in Bali, is a beloved theme in Affandi’s works.

In the present lot, Affandi captures the electrifying tension of the match by detailing the closely packed crowd surrounding the gamecocks. He distinguishes the many forms and figures that occupy the scene through contrasting colors. The background is filled with swirls of burnt umber, with shades of red and taupe, suggesting the frenzied kicking and gestures that cause dust to burst upon the scene. Against this, Affandi employs bright yellow, red, blue and some green to cast the viewer’s attention on the cockerels, molding their forms and creating texture with his thick impastos. As a result, the prized creatures, as if under spotlight, are immediately brought towards the foreground of the composition – highlighting their metaphorical and social significance.

What is notably interesting in Cockfight 1976 is Affandi’s inclusion of a watchful crowd, distinguishing this piece from other compositions in which the embattled birds are the sole subject matter. The artist’s angled perspective is framed to show the hands and feet of the figures, allowing the viewer’s eye to sweep across the breadth of the painting. As Affandi uses his hands and fingers to paint intuitively, he immortalizes the heightened emotions he experiences in media res, instilling a raw energy that dances freely across the canvas. The sheer washes of brown and deep green create a blur of movement and a palpable rhythm around the bold yellow forms of the crowd, perhaps mirroring the inhibition with which Affandi paints.

 

Crouched at the top right corner of the work, Affandi introduces the fully featured human protagonist of his narrative - the likely owner of one of the fighting cockerels. Portrayed with his mouth agape and his eyes intensely focused on his bird, the man’s animated expression pulls the viewers even deeper into the fight. His arm is outstretched as he touches the cockerel’s feathers, perhaps to rouse it further. Furthermore, the spontaneous, curved strokes that delineate the physical forms of the titular birds encapsulate the ruffling of their feathers amidst battle. Affandi’s unique approach to painting carries an undeniable corporeal power, capturing the essence and liveliness of the scene he chooses to depict. Here, it is as if one can hear the boisterous interaction between competitive owners and the crowd. The entire picture plane is filled with an incredible dynamism and is rich with “the whirling of natural forces”1 that Affandi was undeniably drawn to.

Indeed the heart of Balinese cockfighting was not necessarily the bravado of competition, but rather the effervescent atmosphere and the underlying values of community spirit. This lot is a stunning example of Affandi’s confident and mature approach in capturing the essence of the unique Indonesian sensibility, reaffirming his status as one of the leading modern artists in Southeast Asia.

[1] Jean Couteau cited in Sardjana Sumichan, ed., Affandi, Volume II, Bina Lestari Budaya Foundation, Singapore Art Museum, Jakarta Singapore, 2007, p. 39

 

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong