Lot 150
Indonesian Art Sale 2018
Kusama Affandi (1907-1990)

A cremation in Bali

signed with initials and dated 1985 (lower right)

oil on canvas, 89x119 cm

Provenance: acquired directly from the artist in the Yogyakarta in 1985 and since that time in the same private collection in the Netherlands.

Affandi is probably Indonesia’s best known painter. Mostly self-taught, he won international acclaim from the 1950s onwards. The influential English art critic John Berger for example called him ‘a genius’. He was born Boerhanoedin Affandi Koesoema in Jatitujuh, Indramayu (part of Cirebon), West Java in 1907 as a son of Raden Koesoema, surveyor of a sugarfactory. After his father died when he was still at school, he stayed with an artistic family in Jakarta where he was introduced to oil painting by the painter Sudjojono. In 1929 he met his future wife Maryati who definitely stimulated Affandi’s painting career. Their daughter Kartika became an artist too.

Affandi’s work has an undeniably characteristic style that can be described as dynamic expressionism. His social involvement resounds in his subject matter. The technique he uses in his paintings is a personal form of action painting in which he squeezes the paint directly from the tube on the canvas and subsequently uses his hands to draw the accents. The story goes that he came across this technique by accident. Unable to find a pencil one day, he squeezed the paint on the canvas and found out that the result was very lively. The swirling movement in his painting and the gripping subject matter resulted in an utterly personal style that is unrivalled.

Affandi sought to portray life as he saw it. His representation of reality is raw, unadorned, even ugly sometimes. He also encouraged fellow Indonesian artists to strive for authenticity rather than to depict an idealized, imaginary Indonesia as the Mooi Indië-painters and members of Pita-Maha did. ‘I don’t base my paintings on beauty. My life is based on humanity. With my works, I attempt to stir people’s sense of humanity’, he once told an art critic.1

This commitment to honest expression and authenticity for Affandi implies not to please the eye as to draw attention to all human activities, which in Bali can include a cremation. As Affandi stated: ‘Don’t take what’s there on the surface only. Behind all this is just me with my gloom. Don’t find out just the meaning of what is depicted, try to interpret what the images allude to.’2

As a renowned artist, Affandi had numerous exhibitions all over the world. He worked in India, went to Europe where his paintings were on show in Paris, London, Brussels and Rome and visited the United States three times. He represented the independent Republic of Indonesia at the Biennale in Sao Paulo (1953) and Venice (1954). In later life he received various important prizes and recognitions for his art work and effort for human rights.

From 1965 onwards he established the Affandi Museum in Yogyakarta. The architectural design was by the artist himself. He died in Yogyakarta on May 23 1990 and was buried on the museum premises.

-Eddy Soetriyono , ‘Affandi, the nude, and the erotic’ in: Sardjana Sumichan (ed.), Affandi, Vol I, Jakarta/Singapore 2007, p.154.
-Ibid. p.156.

€ 30.000,00
€ 40.000,00
€ 18.000,00

Hamerprijs: € 18.000