It is through this animated piece that Affandi conducts an emotive exercise on expressionism, as his luminous use of color and form fabricates an evocative account of traditional Balinese customs. The candid vigor of Affandi’s brushwork delineates the central phenomenon of the procession with an intensity like no other, as he seems to encapsulate the lively chaos of atmosphere through the thick strokes of impasto that traverse the canvas. The highly organic and unconstrained dabs of paint showcase Affandi’s inimitable process of squeezing paint directly onto the canvas and smearing it with his fingers and palms, while the gestural mark of each spontaneous stroke blends together to radiate sensations of verve and energy, accentuating the pulsating spirit of this transcendent parade.
Dominating the canvas is an indiscernible creature of hybridity, as Affandi marries the perimeters of realism with the notions of expressionism and constructs an animal that changes and morphs according to the perspective of the viewer. Festooned with shimmering strokes of color, the mystical creature appears to absorb the glow of the natural light, and consumes the pictorial space in its arresting radiance. Affandi takes care to scatter the creature with jade green scales and crimson patterns, as thick layers of impasto, assembled on top of each other through his acute sense of dimension and depth, mirror the lush foliage of the natural landscapes frequently associated with Bali.
At the background stands a pagoda-like structure, which provides a religious accent to the painting; Affandi adorns the golden edifice with decorative details, which subsequently echoes the alluring beauty of Bali’s cultural rituals and spirituality. Like freely flowing ribbons in the wind, the rhythmic swirls of paint curl and coil to elucidate movement and stimulate flow to the canvas, as Affandi saturates the landscape with his innate emotions, and expresses beautifully his never-ending affection for the daily traditions of Indonesian culture. The intense brilliance of the ruby reds, cerulean blues and emerald greens of Affandi’s color palette reflect his unique visual language, as he works to transform the raw and passionate energies of this Balinese occasion into something tangible through an atomic burst of colors. This prismatic scene brings viewers into the heart of its electrifying atmosphere, as we are invited to experience the customary habits of Bali through Affandi’s every stroke of color and rhythm.
This captivating masterpiece is a seminal work from Affandi’s opus, and encompasses many of the quintessential aspects of Bali that he sought to depict during the zenith of his artistic career. A grand and evocative piece, Balinese Ceremony is an electrifying illustration of the rich traditions and rituals of Balinese cultures, as Affandi’s figurative brushstrokes dance across the canvas, which ultimately gives way to a spectacular vignette of the cavalcades of Balinese life.
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