(Indonesian, 1907-1990)
Penari Pendet (The Young Pendet Dancer)
signed with artist's monogram and dated '1963' (lower right); inscribed '1060/Papadimitriou/t.t. AP' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
140 x 80 cm (55 1/8 x 31 1/2 in.)
Painted in 1963
Acquired directly from the artist by Alex Papadimitriou

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Lot Essay

Paintings without substance have no value, while this substance is hard to define and explain. Only one's feelings can tell.
Alex Papadimitriou

One of the most significant collectors of modern Indonesian art, Alex Papadimitriou met the expressionist painter Affandi in the early 1950s when organizing Indonesia's participation at the Bienal de São Paulo. At the time of his first encounter with Affandi which would grow into a lifelong friendship, Papadimitriou was not yet a collector. The son of a Greek father and a German-Japanese mother, Alex Papadimitriou was born in 1924 in Palembang, South Sumatra in Indonesia. His multi-ethnic identity put him in good stead to work as a diplomatic staff for Indonesia, his adopted country of domicile since 1958. After the encounter with Affandi in the early 1950s, he gradually turned to collecting paintings. For him, Indonesian art was placed close to the heart and core of his collection. For Indonesia, Alex Papadimitriou proved to be one of its most astute and ultimately greatest art collectors.
Papadimitriou's friendship with Affandi meant that the great majority of works of the artist's works in his collection were purchased from Affandi including the present lot, Penari Pendet (The Young Pendet Dancer) (Lot 36). The relationship between them went beyond just that of a collector and artist. Papadimitriou was patron, promoter and friend to Affandi, making the works of the expressionist painter the core of his collection, underlying his preference for paintings that strongly communicate expression and sentiment. As a collector, he looked beyond techniques and styles, seeking instead to find works that communicated a transcendental idea. Christie's is honoured to bring to auction one of the finest work of Affandi in the Alex Papadimitriou Collection to auction.
One of the most significant artists within the canon of twentieth century Indonesian art is the expressionist painter Affandi; whose unique vision and humanist approach reflects a particular expressionist nature of Indonesian modernism. Christie's is pleased to be able to present two exceptional Balinese portraits this season, the present lot, Penari Pendet (The Young Pendet Dancer) and the subsequent lot, Balinese Man And Fighting Cockerel, that highlight the humanist tendency in Affandi's art and show how Affandi both drew from and enlarged understanding of aspects of cultural life through his works. The renowned art critic Herbert Read had hailed Affandi as a painter who had succeeded in 'developing a new course of Expressionism'. New expressionism is indeed a description that is applicable to an understanding of Affandi's works in subsequent years, gaining for him a place of importance in world art history of the mid-twentieth century. The present lot, Penari Pendet (The Young Pendet Dancer), is a singularly striking portrait of a young dancer, in the first flush of youth, bearing an unmistakable youthfulness and virility of life. The pendent dance is a traditional Balinese temple dance most usually performed by young girls who carry bowls of flower petals as offerings. The pendet dance is a greeting dance, often to welcome audiences as a prelude to ceremonies, and even to invite spirits to partake of a performance. There are no formal movements in the pendet dance, and younger girls follow the movements of their elders who have the responsibility of passing down the tradition to them. Proficiency is gained with practice and age. Affandi's young dancer is full of confidence in her stance, and the way she returns the gaze of the audience. One arm akimbo, the other holding a fan languidly, Affandi's young dancer is a portrait of purity of expression.
A key strand in Indonesian modern art is how it's development and its artist took much inspiration from daily life to propagate a modernist tendency rooted in an empathetic relationship between artist and subject. True to his humanist calling, Affandi's art has always been rooted in the direct observation and representation of the world around him. Affandi favoured subjects that were alive and scenes that expressed the vitality of life. He discovered the technique of painting directly from the paint tube in the 1950s, when he lost patience with searching for a missing pencil and decided to apply paint directly from the tube instead. The consequence of this direct application was profound for Affandi as he found that the painted object became even more alive than before.
In Penari Pendet (The Young Pendet Dancer), Affandi clearly revels in the act of painting, applying with judicious care details of the dancer's accoutrements, from the decorative motif of her skirt to the lavish ornateness of her headdress and the overflowing decoration of her dancer's costume. The success of Affandi's figurative works in depicting his subject's personality and emotions lies in his artistic concern to 'want to capture the signs of the natural forces.' Very much the key tenet in his works, his portraiture and his self-portraits are intricately linked. Affandi has famously said: 'When I paint, I always want to become one with the object I paint. I lose myself, and then there is a feeling as if I'm going to fight against something.'

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