Srihadi Soedarsono
(Indonesian, B. 1931)
Bedaya Ketawang - The Spirit of Beauty
oil on canvas
140 x 110 cm. (55 1/8 x 43 1/4 in.)
Painted in 2012

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Lot Essay

Hailed as one of the most significant living modern Indonesian painter, Srihadi's art is an expression of the spirit of modernism. As his career parallels the history of modern Indonesia, it is also important to remember how the culture and history of Java has shaped his works and outlook in life. Hence even as he is acknowledged as one of the most representative abstract Indonesian artist, we see in his career a bridge between tradition and modernity, between figuration and abstraction.

Bedya Ketawang - The Spirit Of Beauty (Lot 280) is a work that both in style and subject, is immediately recognizable of the artist. Srihadi's dancers form part of an integral theme for the artist. Throughout his career, he has tirelessly refashioned and re-imagined the same subject matter; sometimes making subtle adjustments to the pose, rearranging the composition, varying the proportions or by using different combinations of colours in differing brush strokes and brightness. Elegant and poised, the unblended brushstrokes that Srihadi uses evokes a certain sense of vitality from the painting. The art critic, Jean Couteau has remarked that the 'visual melody of Srihadi's paintings, is, primarily, a melody of colour which has changed with time'. The combination of red and pink hues that dominate the canvas succeed in representing the vibrancy of Balinese life and culture that the artist so loved.

Depicting two dancers in mid-motion, Srihadi's quick feathery brushstrokes effectively create the visual appearance of lightness and movement. Armed with the philosophy that art should embody inner spiritual beauty, he reaches out to his audience and helps them connect the visual to the spiritual. In a world that is increasingly fast paced, he aims to use his paintings for self-reflection and reprieve.

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