Sotheby’s Auction Highlights Indonesian Arts
If money is a measure of success in the fine arts, Indonesian artists are continuing to flex their muscles on the global stage of high-profile auctions.
Auction house Sotheby’s will present its spring sale at the end of March in Hong Kong, and of the 175 pieces available, more than a third will come from Indonesian artists.
“For Southeast Asian art to grow, we needed a bigger platform,” said Mok Kim Chuan, head of Sotheby’s Southeast Asian paintings department. “Indonesian artists are a very, very talented bunch. The majority of names you normally hear [at auctions] are Indonesian. They’re among the top ones.”
The auction at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center will feature paintings, sculptures, photographs and new media art. Some of the works have already been showcased in Jakarta at a preview show in the beginning of the month.
In Hong Kong, the paintings will be divided into modern and contemporary categories.
“Some of the modern paintings were done by the [Indonesian] founding fathers like Affandi, S. Sudjojono and Hendra Gunawan,” said Galuh Sukardi, a junior specialist of Southeast Asian paintings, adding that Affandi’s iconic “Man With Cockerels” will be among the best Indonesian items for sale.
“The [painting’s] subject is particularly interesting as it captures one of Indonesian men’s traditional pastimes, playing with cockerels,” he said. The piece is expected to sell for $250,000.
The auction will also feature four paintings by Hendra, who is known as a forefather of modern Indonesian painting. Hendra was jailed without trial for 13 years in 1965 because of his connection to the Communist Party, and after his release he painted “Potret Diri dan Anak” (“Self Portrait With Child”), using vibrant hues that express his happiness at reuniting with his daughter.
“He’s the top lot,” Galuh said of the artist, whose painting “Penari Ular” (“Snake Dancer”) sold for a record $1.8 million last year.
Contemporary paintings at the auction were produced by artists born in the 21st century, including emerging talents from Bandung and Yogyakarta, Galuh said.
Bandung artist Christine Ay Tjoe will show five paintings. Among them, her abstract masterpiece “Langit-Langit Merah,” (“Red Ceiling”) is austere and intense with shades of red on the upper half of a white canvas.
“This one was done during a transition period in the artist’s life,” Galuh said. “In the painting, it looks as if she’s trying to push all her problems up to the ceiling.”
Yogyakarta-based contemporary artists Miko Bawono and Santi Ariestyowanti, known as Indieguerillas, created mixed-media paintings incorporating traditional culture and pop culture. Their piece “Kanoman Overdrive” depicts Javanese wayang shadow puppets dressed in a modern hip-hop style, while “Heavy Make Up for the Amnesia” portrays two wayang figures with sneakers on their heads.
“Today’s generation has a fascination with collecting sneakers, so the artists are promoting today’s pop culture in younger generations with great colors and composition,” Galuh said.
Another internationally renowned Yogyakarta-based artist, M. Irfan, will have two paintings at the auction. His piece “Not So Far Away From Here” depicts a railway tunnel in dark earthy tones with the word “Light” written in white at the end of it.
“The painting draws you in,” Galuh said. “The artist always experiments with the subject of infinity through a pathway.”
Yogyakarta artist Samsul Arifin will show sculptures such as “Kontes Para Pemikir” (“Contest of the Thinkers”), which portrays five figures sitting atop pencils.
“The artist supports education with his work,” Galuh said. “He always tries to deliver a good message through his art.”
At the Jakarta preview earlier this month, one audience favorite was a video by Bandung-based group Tromarama, a collaboration of artists Febie Babyrose, Ruddy Hatumena and Herbert Hans who have backgrounds in design and printmaking. Their video, “Ting*,” features a stop-motion animation set of porcelain cups and saucers.
“It’s like this cartoon book that you flip and the picture appears to be moving,” Galuh said. “ They did it in a digital way, but it’s still an intricate and time-consuming process.”
Mok stressed that attendees of the Hong Kong auction should not buy artwork for speculative reasons.
“My advice for collectors is to buy what they like,” he said “Five years down the road, if the price goes up, it’ll be an added bonus for you. But if it doesn’t, it won’t matter because you liked it from the very beginning.”
For more information on Sotheby’s auction, visit www.sothebys.com.