The present lot, Roadshow in Garden Gate, is an intriguing early work of the Indonesian painter, I Nyoman Masriadi, who was born in Bali but has lived and worked out of Yogyakarta in the centre of Java ever since enrolling as an art student in the Indonesian Art Institute in the city. The work is visually captivating in the riotous application of colour, and is composed of distinct units supported and distributed around the figurative form that dominates the centre of the composition. The painting was executed and sold in Bali sometime between 1997 and 1998 when the artist took a year off art college to return to Bali to wed. Away from the constricted environs of the art academy, he found creative freedom in Bali. With its free-ranging visual and textual elements chaotically arranged, Roadshow in Garden Gate hints at the liberty that Masriadi found himself having, being able to paint whatever and whenever he wanted in Bali.
The year in Bali was refreshing and deeply important for the artist to experiment and find his own visual language; it also allowed him to revisit his childhood, as illustrated in Roadshow in Garden Gate. The painter grew up in the village of Sakah in Gianyar, Bali. Sakah is referred to in the painting on the bottom right with the text running vertically upwards that reads "Night in Sakah". Though largely comprised of abstract and stylised pictorial imageries, the painting recalls the circumstance of nightfall in his childhood village.
When he was twelve, Masriadi's parents opened a food stall on the main transportation route between Bali and Lombok. It was a successful business, people were constantly coming and going, and life in the family house was hectic. According to art critic Dwi Marianto, "the restaurant brought about a less than pleasant time to his youth. He disliked its chaos, and his aversion to busy and loud environments continues to exist today" (Dwi Marianto, Masriadi the Winner in Masriadi: Black Is My Last Weapon, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, p. 8). This sense of noise, of chaos and disorderliness is wrought in the rioutous colours and composition of the painting. Running vertically upwards at the immediate right of the figure is a line in Bahasa Indonesian - "Rumah selalu bisa menganggu" (House is constantly disturbed). As a young adult, Masriadi recollects and alludes to this unpleasant childhood memory in Roadshow in Garden Gate.
This recollection is buried among others such as "This Man is Bad/Bad People" found on the bottom left of the canvas. Could this be another allusion to Masriadi's noted distaste for certain individuals in the artworld? The artist gives his viewers only clues but never straight answers. And even as one begins to think that the painting is brimming with autobiographical revelations, Masriadi moves quickly to refute such a reading. Alongside texts which are decipherable is a rhapsody of what appears as seemingly absurd and nonsensical sayings such as "Gone with the Blah Tanah", "I'm The Day/This is My Day/For You". These texts are deliberately cryptic and evade understanding.
Many of Masriadi's paintings are autobiographical to varying extents - oftentimes, the artist invests episodes, experiences and sentiments from personal life into his paintings, realigning them as visual allegories. Seen in light of this, Roadshow in Garden Gate stands as an important painting in Masriadi's oeuvre, one that is particularly pliable and necessary to a fuller understanding of the artist's personality, history and psyche.