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Dinamika Legong (The Dynamics of Legong)

Dinamika Legong (The Dynamics of Legong)
signed and dated 'SRIHADI S 97' (upper right); titled, inscribed, signed and dated 'Dinamika Legong 100 x 130 cm SRIHADI S 97' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
101 x 130.5 cm. (39 3⁄4 x 51 3⁄8 in.)
Painted in 1997
Private Collection, Asia
Jean Couteau, Lontar Foundation, Srihadi Soedarsono: The Path of the Soul, Jakarta, Indonesia, 2003 (illustrated, p. 170, 171).

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Lot Essay

Srihadi Soedarsono has been hailed as one of the most significant modern Indonesian painters still alive today. His art has been recognised as an expression of the spirit of modernism, with his artistic career following along the trajectory of Indonesia’s growth and development in the twentieth century. Born in 1931 in the city of Surakarta, also known as Solo in Central Java, Indonesia, the culture and history of Java has been a guiding force in shaping his artistic career and outlook in life. Indeed, Srihadi’s appreciation of traditional Indonesian dance is a well-known visual trope in his oeuvre, tirelessly refashioned and re-imagined the same subject matter making subtle adjustments to the colour or composition, further emphasising the artist’s adoration for his culture and nation. Dinamika Legong illustrates a traditional dance that is said to have originated in the nineteenth century, when it came to a Balinese prince in a dream, who later requested for the dance to be re-enacted as a form of royal entertainment. Srihadi captures the vigour and exuberance of the art form through the unblended application of brushstrokes that mimic the rhythmic ebbs and flows of the gamelan (traditional Indonesian orchestra) and the movement of the dancers. In Srihadi's world, the dancers are ever identified as particular individuals but each one of them embodying the vitality and dynamism of the dance form itself, and a visual symbol of cultural memory and transmission.

One of Srihadi’s most distinctive qualities as a painter is his mastery over the use of colour, demonstrating a natural understanding of the different hues, tones, values, and their visual and emotional power; 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”. In Dinamika Legong, Srihadi emphasises the shapes and forms of the two bodies, through the wild application of vividly coloured paints in the depiction of the dancers’ costumes setting off against a blinding white background, which in turn enhances the sensuality and energy of the figures. Further, true to character as a colourist, Srihadi deliberately utilises complimentary colours of teal and vermilion to dazzling effect, creating a mesmerising effect and drawing the viewer further into the painting despite its relatively pared down composition.

Dinamika Legong is a celebration of the elegance and energy of the rich culture and history of Srihadi’s homeland, and an exceptional example of his ability to bridge the opposing paradigms of figuration and abstraction, as well as tradition and modernity.

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