• Southeast Asian Modern and Con auction at Christies

    Sale 2721

    Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art

    30 November 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1171

    WIDAYAT (Indonesia 1919-2002)


    Price Realised  


    WIDAYAT (Indonesia 1919-2002)
    signed and dated 'Widajat '75' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    39½ x 70 in. (100 x 180 cm.)

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    Widayat's Flora is the artist's visual paean to the bountifulness of nature and the efflorescence of life. Completed in 1975, Flora is forms part of Widayat's celebrated flora and fauna oeuvre. The artist's depiction of luxuriant tropical flora and fauna as a symbol of manifest abundance is highly refined and nuanced. Each flora and fauna painting portray a utopian world where buds and blooms, foliole and frond, tendrils and trunks find their natural place under the sun, in harmonious co-existence with other elements of nature. The distribution of pleasing forms and colours seen in Flora is accomplished with the typical flair and finesse of the artist whose oeuvre has carved out a particular genre of magical decorativism highly distinct in Indonesian modern art.

    As observed by art historian and critic Astri Wright, "[n]o modern Indonesian painter has given so much canvas space to the image of the tree, the forest, and the garden as Widayat; few have persisted so consistently in modern media in depicting the crowded and organically alive universe of the ancestors, with references to Islam, the Old Testament, and Buddhism, giving equal respect and presence in turn to each. Widayat has taken the traditional Indonesian principle of repetition further than most, applying it to motifs like fish, birds, vegetation, masks, and human beings, without losing the underlying feeling of an intense personalized processing of meaning and form which so much Indonesian decorative painting lacks." (Astri Wright, Soul, Spirit, and Mountain: Preoccupations of Contemporary Indonesian Painters, Oxford University Press, Kuala Lumpur, 1994, p. 94.)

    Flora is a lyrical narration of nature, delighting in the sheer painterly pleasure of pictorial composition. The composition is tiered, with the composition built as discernible terraces of flora and fauna advancing deeper into the picture plane. Interspersing such orderliness is the presence of elaborately stylized depictions of trees, rising tall and straight at either ends of the landscape composition, lending the composition a sense of natural balance and order. When viewed from afar, the picture plane is seemingly characterized by a dense impenetrable layer of foliage; in fact, the picture plane is a delectable invitation to view and behold the beauty of nature in its glorious details.

    Each section of the composition is suffused with an overwhelming amount of detail, attesting to the inspiration Widayat derives from the myriad forms of tropical nature. Wright elaborates that these elements are treated "like magical signs, to be repeated like mantra, creating decorative rhythms that pulsate across the canvas." (Ibid, p. 94).


    The present owner is a close friend of the late Widayat and a major collector of the artist's works.

    Pre-Lot Text

    The Property of An Important Indonesian Private Collector