• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2380

    Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art

    25 November 2007, Hong Kong

  • Lot 16

    I NYOMAN MASRIADI (b. Indonesia 1973)

    Juling (Cross-eyed)

    Price Realised  

    I NYOMAN MASRIADI (b. Indonesia 1973)
    Juling (Cross-eyed)
    signed and dated 'MASRIADI 11 MARET 2005' (lower right); signed and dated again and titled (on the reverse)
    mixed media on canvas
    59 x 78 3/4 in. (150 x 200 cm.)


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    One of the noticeable qualities with many of the contemporary works is the dire need of the artist to convey a message through his works. Painting ceases to be a mere expression of aesthetics but it works like words for the writers, it very much becomes a narrative tool for the painter. A telling sign for an ingenious artist in this genre is to see if the artist could create a unique visual vocabulary or an individual set of codified idioms in his works that effectively conveys his messages.

    Masriadi's bloated figures which, is in part stylised and in part caricature-like have very much become a signature style for the artist. They are an integral part of his artistic idioms that would make impression for a first timer but rich in meaning and expression for a keen observer of his works. The figures, which could be man or woman almost always wear a mocked facial expression that is a fuse of an uncanny look and a faint sinister smile. With these protagonists, Masriadi addresses the issues of Tradition versus Modernity, the pace of Development in the Third World country like Indonesia, the Commercialising of all aspects in a city-living, it is an inexhaustible list that basically allows the artist to probe deeper into human nature and cultural issues.

    Juling (Cross-eyed) is especially rich and evocative with its busy, close-up composition of several figures starring into their mobile phones. The title forms part of this narration, which Masriadi portrays a community bonded by a common obsession with the modern technology which has infiltrated into all aspects of cosmopolitan living. Just like a novel, one could almost 'read' the puns in this visual expression - the cross-eyes faces of every individuals gazed intensely into the small screen in the palm - oblivious to one another's existence and yet in dire need of 'staying in touch'.

    Masriadi's characters are perhaps exaggerated fictions, but their navigation of humanity is real. The woman placed sort of in the forefront is arguably a focal point, not just for the fact that she is the only ostensible female character (while others are hidden) but also with her frizzy long hair and her fur stole tugged on her shadow and with her blue and white mobile phone; and yet the other personalities also jumped up via the artist's poignant comic individualization, such as the frowned look of the man on the right corner, the hidden eyes and the glasses of the man at the back and most notably the man who is left to the woman that has the most humorous beguiled look and whom one wonders, if he could be the summary page of the book, if one follows the analogy of the painting as a novel and the painter as the writer. The beguiled man who seems in a dazzle is not portrayed as holding up his mobile phone, therein lies the essence of the artist's message: the ravenous quest for communication and humanly bondage is indeed a futile exercise if the technology i.e. the mobile phone is treated as an end and not a mean.

    Extending from this mocking of the compulsive obsession of mobile phones, the artist indirectly but decisively exposed the power of consumerism over the masses. The few phones that are portrayed, displayed distinctive styles of the few commercially successful phones by the well established Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Motorola. The phones are depicted almost logo-like, as representation of the multi-national corporations and reflect the consumerist ethos of contemporary capitalism and the advertising and publicity machinations that underpinned them, Masriadi's Juling indeed reveals the commercially controlled 'propaganda' apparatus of the commercial society today.