Lot 1054
  • 1054

SRIHADI SUDARSONO | Dalam Meditasi Bedhoyo Ketawang (State of Meditation - Bedhoyo Ketawang)

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 HKD
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  • Srihadi Sudarsono
  • Dalam Meditasi Bedhoyo Ketawang (State of Meditation - Bedhoyo Ketawang) 
  • Signed and dated 98; signed, titled, inscribed and dated 98
  • Oil on canvas 
  • 140 by 300 cm; 55 by 118 in. 


Jean Couteau, Srihadi Soedarsono - The Path of the Soul, A Picture Gallery, Lontar Foundation, Jakarta, Indonesia, 2003, 224-5, color illustration 


This work is in good overall condition as viewed. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals no sign of restoration as viewed. Framed.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

The largest canvas of this subject matter to be offered at auction, Srihadi Sudarsono’s State of Meditation – Bedhoyo Ketawang is a magnificent painting of five elegant dancers in the midst of performing the sacred dance of the royal courts. Srihadi’s career has traversed the transition between modern and contemporary art movements in Indonesia and reflects his profound understanding of Indonesian culture and arts across all genres. Saliently capturing the innate beauty and essence of his subjects, Srihadi meditates upon the symbolism in this rare depiction of Bedhoyo dancers.  While Srihadi’s celebration of classical Indonesian dance has become a signature motif, the Bedhoyo dance appears less frequently in his oeuvre as compared to other forms such as legong or janger. Also known as the bedhaya, the bedoyo dance is an important symbol of the ruler’s powers and requires at all nine-performers must be in a holy state. State of Meditation – Bedhoyo Ketawang expresses the spirit and movements of the dancers with great acuity, marking the present lot as an outstanding example in Srihadi’s oeuvre.Having observed and studied dancers with an intuitive intensity, Srihadi states “I truly understand dance. If we examine closely, every dance has its pakem or vocabulary of movement and type of costume, all of which are imbued with philosophical meaning. The body language of a particular dancer adds its own particular nuances to the character of the particular dance. The spirit of a dance varies, depending on who performs its. How can it be possible to repeat oneself?” [1]

What is immediately captivating about State of Meditation – Bedhoyo Ketawang is the performative beauty the artist portrays. Imbuing the work with a tangible sense of rhythm, the five dancers dominate the picture plane and are caught amid a striking pose. Their hips are hinged slightly backward, allowing their upper bodies to tilt forward and eyes gaze towards the floor. The dancers’ elongated bodies are lent further verticality as their arms stretch out before them as their hands arch upwards in typical classical dance fashion. Srihadi depicts the five dancers as synchronous in their poses, well-rehearsed and possessing a graceful discipline. Yet he adeptly manifests distinct nuances of character in each dancer, thus breaking any static homogeneity that could exist in the composition. The first two dancers in the line appear to lead the choreography as their stances are more dramatically bent over, while the other dancers display subtle variations in the way they tilt their heads or flex their fingers.

Laden with mystical meaning, the artist captures the qualities required of the Bedoyo performers to meditate every step and gesture both physically and spiritually. Reserved exclusively for major court festivities or the coronation of the sultan’s birthday, the Bedhoyo Ketawang is performed to gamelan music and embraces a slow solemn style. It tells the story of the meeting between Panembahan Senopati, the first ruler of the Mataram Kingdom II (1584–1601) with Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, the powerful and beautiful goddess-the Queen of South Sea. Symbolizing a meditator’s highest achievement by the closing of the nine human orifices, the bedoyo dance is deeply rooted in ancient cosmology. 

Srihadi’s painting accurately describes the traditional, iconic costumes of the Bedhoyo – the black dresses or sarongs hug the dancers’ slim figures, while the golden yellow embellishments in their headdress and skirt are highlighted against the dark background. The artist distinguishes the two main dancers whose bright red skirts draw the viewer’s eye. They would eventually begin a stylised battle with their wavy-bladed krises during the climax of the performance. Pinned to the back of each dancer’s hair is a string of white flowers that stream across her shoulders, further enhancing her feminine quality.   

Srihadi’s masterful employment of color undoubtedly speaks of his commitment to the emotive and visual power of hues. Involving a cast of nine dancers, Bedhoyo encompasses seamless geometric formations that change almost unnoticeably to the gamelan music. Srihadi’s virtuoso is seen in the way he adorns the dark green background with variated shades and broad animated strokes. He activates the negative space behind the dancers, suggesting the smooth shifts in the routine, giving life and movement to the canvas. The direction of his brush strokes follows the flow of the dancers’ skirts, further elongating their figures. Srihadi employs a dark emerald green shade to highlight the silhouette of the dancers, as if there is a meditative aura surrounding their being and the characters they play in performance. 

Srihadi Sudarsono’s State of Meditation – Bedhoyo Ketawang impressively reveals the rich heritage of Javanese dance and speaks of the artist’s adoration for his culture and nation. The beauty Srihadi relentlessly pursued was not limited to the physical acts or artefacts of traditional dance but also in its capacity to manifest the spiritual curiosities that concerned him. It was his desire to express the harmony between mortal-physical and transcendental-spiritual that made Indonesian dance a beloved theme in Srihadi’s oeuvre. State of Meditation – Bedhoyo Ketawang celebrates the aesthetic principles of the titular dance, linking the non-verbal, esoteric concepts of beauty and strength, by showing the bedoyo as a kind of meditation and spiritual transcendence. 

[1] Jean Couteau, Srihadi Soedarsono: The Path of the Soul: A retrospective of the artist’s career, Lontar Foundation, Jakarta, 2003