As one of the few works focused on this subject matter, Dogs Fighting is an exceptionally rare work from Affandi’s oeuvre. Affandi depicts two dogs that are central to the picture plane, one in shades of black and the other in a bright, almost blazing vermillion; making for an especially arresting focal point. The dramatic contrast between the red and the black saturates the entire canvas, giving the work a vivid intensity that distinguishes this piece from the artist’s other paintings depicting fighting dogs. The artist adds to the richness of the color palette with swirls of viridian to set the scene of a field and introduces the forms of other dogs in the background. It is important to note that Affandi also depicts two tables in this painting, one at the top edge and another near the left top corner. With food left out on these tables, it sets the context for the battle and purposes the presence of the surrounding canines, subtly emphasising the sense of competition in the painting.
Often depicting animals in motion, Affandi favours capturing the restlessness of their moving forms as opposed to focusing on details of their physical appearance. The artist’s portrayal in this work is unguarded as he chooses to represent the dogs in the middle of combat with their bodies wildly entangled and teeth bared. This raw depiction of clashing energies induces a connection with the audience and viscerally communicates the dogs’ survival instinct. Affandi’s desire to immortalise sparks of natural forces gives rise to his renowned preference for painting with his fingers and his hands, and spreading pigment straight from the tube. Such tactility allows him to swiftly capture his emotions in the moment, resulting in bold, spontaneous lines. The strokes and textures imparted from his classic impasto technique, mimic the briskness of the fight and the bristly fur of the animals. Thus, adding further dimension to the picture plane and heightening the tension between the two dogs. Affandi projects his appreciation for the common landscape through the effusive rhythm and powerful dynamism of this piece, commanding his audience to pay similar attention to the scene.
Dogs Fighting is an exquisite work, resplendent in Affandi’s philosophy towards art. With its riveting imagery, it carries immense wall power and speaks volumes of the strength and vitality of the Indonesian spirit that Affandi unceasingly advocated.
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