414
414
Hendra Gunawan
COOKING SNAILS
Estimate
1,000,0002,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,000,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
414
Hendra Gunawan
COOKING SNAILS
Estimate
1,000,0002,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,000,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong

Hendra Gunawan
1918-1983
COOKING SNAILS
Signed and dated 71
Oil on canvas
89 by 148.5 cm; 35 by 58 1/2  in. 
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Provenance

Sotheby's Singapore, May 16 1998, Lot 201
Acquired from the above sale by the previous owner
Private Asian Collection
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 6 October 2014, Lot 393
Private Asian Collection

Literature

Agus Dermawan T. and Dr. Astri Wright, Hendra Gunawan: A Great Modern Indonesian Painter, Ir Ciputra Foundation, Jakarta, Indonesia, Archipelago Press, Singapore, 2001, p. 103, colorplate 34

Catalogue Note

More than just a painter, Hendra Gunawan’s mastery of evoking life’s most unadulterated emotions has cemented him as one of Indonesia’s finest modern artists and humanists. Born in Bandung in 1918, Hendra’s childhood nurtured his love for the dynamic facets of Indonesian people, rituals and social gatherings. Widely acclaimed for his dedication to illustrating the day to day nuances of Indonesian life, Hendra’s works are all influenced by his support of Indonesia’s national independence. These are the events that Hendra never strays away from depicting, and this present lot is another one of Hendra’s patriotic celebrations of the human existence.

Uninterrupted and imaginative, Hendra provides a vignette into the commonalities of Indonesian daily life and honors the hardworking women that humbly act as the backbone of society. In Cooking Snails Hendra lends us his visceral lens and paints a woman cooking snails over a fire while she breastfeeds her baby. Leaning onto her shoulder for support, or perhaps patting his mother’s shoulder for attention, a young frail boy stands ready to for a taste of this humble delicacy. This seemingly simple affair is anything but understated, as Hendra colors the scene with liberal streaks of color and adorns his subjects with captivating aesthetics. Much like the Wayung Kulit theatre shadow puppets that Hendra used to practice with, the figures in his paintings all move with elongated limbs and inhabit angular forms. The eloquence of Hendra’s visual artistry and language unveils itself beautifully in this painting, as the sinuous movement of every brush stroke tells the story of Indonesian perseverance and nationalism. The kebaya top that the woman wears possesses a kaleidoscopic quality as Hendra dots it with intricate and lively patterns. Gazing at this painting, one’s imagination is pulled into motion, as Hendra’s colors blend, melt and clash into each other, fabricating a dazzling canvas of allure. Lighting up the palette are vibrant shades of aquamarine and teal, which encompass the flowing river and the sky.

The small charming details of the work further add to the story of struggle and courage the artist poignantly conveys. The woman cooks her snails in what appears to be a makeshift pot – the letters “BLUE B” suggesting that she has recycled the container. She stirs her dish on a blazing fire with a broken branch as the snails seem to squirm as swirls of smoke arise to bring forth the alluring aroma. It is with this portrayal of the nurturing and sacrificing qualities of motherhood that Hendra elucidates the socio-economic hardships of Indonesian people during the 1970s, where people had to beg for money and scavenge for food to alleviate their perpetual hunger.

Stoic in her stance and calming in her gaze, the mother that Hendra paints lovingly is a heroine in every way, as she tends to the needs of her children with toughness and courage. Thus, Hendra composes a symphony to the minutiae of life, particularly to the unheralded survival instincts of Indonesian women. Through Cooking Snails, Hendra monumentalizes all the altruistic women that acted as uncompromising columns of strength and pertinence amidst Indonesia’s colonial oppression.

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong