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HENDRA GUNAWAN (1918-1983)
HENDRA GUNAWAN (1918-1983)

Eggplant Seller

HENDRA GUNAWAN (1918-1983)
Eggplant Seller
signed, dated and inscribed 'Hendra 1957 Bandung' (lower right)
oil on canvas
88 x 91 cm. (34 5/8 x 35 7/8 in.)
Painted in 1957
Andi's Gallery, Jakarta
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Private Collection, Australia

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Lot Essay

Hendra Gunawan's iconic portrayal of the female figure is unique, distinctive, and immediately recognizable. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful examples of female portraiture in the history of Indonesian modern art, Hendra's women are ravishing images that have been rendered with care and respect. The woman was a reflection of Hendra Gunawan's artistic cosmos, and was a means for expressing his nationalistic concerns and love for his country.

Ladies By the Beach (Lot 115) is an exquisite example of one of Hendra's classic scenes. With brilliant hues of blue and green, Hendra imbues the resting women with youth and vibrancy. As a symbol for the Indonesian motherland, Hendra's women are strong maternal figures who watch over their surroundings with an air of confidence and quiet contemplation. A smile graces the lips of the right-most figure, and Hendra expresses through her a sense of peace and contentment. The theatrical setting by the beach surrounds the women with a dramatic wind that casts the viewer's gaze into the horizon where sky meets land and sea, and Hendra assures us that the land is being well-watched under their protective gazes.

In Eggplant Seller (Lot 116), Hendra presents an iconic manipulation and exaggeration of the fluidity of forms. While the bodies of the women characteristically sway and mould according to some unknown force, the eggplant too takes on an unusually elongated shape. In Hendra's world view, the female also acts as a symbol of the symbiotic relationship between man and nature. Hendra's beloved theme of depicting women participating in barter trade at market or in group activities emphasizes their role in providing for the family and sustaining communal bonds. An artist who favoured either landscape or portrait formats for his works, Eggplant Seller is unique for its intimate composition within a tight-frame view. Situated against the backdrop of a beach, the landscape here is subordinate to the eggplant seller, whose crouched posture occupies most of the canvas. Immortalizing the image of the humble eggplant seller, Hendra elevates the beauty and simplicity found in the everyman.

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