(Indonesian, 1928-2002)
The Courtship
left panel: signed, inscribed and dated 'Abdul Aziz, Bali, 1993' (lower right)
right panel: signed, inscribed and dated 'Abdul Aziz, Bali, 1993' (lower left)
a set of two oil on canvas
each: 148 x 63 cm. (58 1?4 x 24 3?4 in.);
overall: 148 x 126 cm. (58 1/4 x 49 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1993 (2)
Private Collection, Jakarta, Indonesia

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Eric Chang
Eric Chang

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Lot Essay

An artist of multiple talents, Abdul Aziz was trained in the visual arts but over a creative lifetime, pursued more than painting. He was variously a revolutionary fighter, artist, sculptor, musician and violin maker. In pursuit of music as a violin player, he turned away from the commercial art world but that did not buck the popularity of his works with collectors.

Aziz graduated in 1959 from ASRI, then went to Italy to study the works of old masters. He studied print-making and in particular, etching. That was to have a profound impact in his later career as he cultivated an acceptance to editions and multiples. Aziz was an astute learner, researching and producing papers on Leonardo da Vinci, Palladio, Velasquez and other old masters. In 1965, he returned to Indonesia and settled in Bali which was where he developed the foundational pictorial interests and techniques. In Bali, he settled in Ubud and took an interest to painting local life but was also influenced by the artistic tradition, especially in Europe, of painting women as chief protagonists in paintings.

The present lot, Courtship (Lot 209), along with less than ten other such twin panel paintings Aziz has created in his lifetime, is the singular most iconic subject painted by Aziz. Courtship demonstrates Aziz's most distinctive feature as a painter is the application of the painting technique, trompe l'oeil (trick the eye) used in Renaissance, Greek and Roman art. In Courtship, one sees how his trompe l'oeil technique is effected with the fingers of the outstretched hand of the male protagonists, touching the edge of the canvas and the frame. The contact is in fact a carefully constructed shadow obscuring the transition between the real and painted frame. He painted a frame within a frame, and in painting trompe l'oeil, sought to work like a sculptor.

In the present lot, the gaze and facial expression of the pair of lovers has been perfectly painted by Aziz to narrate a romance in its very early bloom. The man reaches out to the Balinese lady, literally with his hands and with his longing gaze whereas she puts on a coy expression, encouraging his amorous approaches. Aziz's composition is a memorable treatise on love and romance, one that has universal resonance.

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