SUDJANA KERTON (1922-1994)
SUDJANA KERTON (1922-1994)
1 More
PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE ASIAN COLLECTION
SUDJANA KERTON (1922-1994)

Kuda Lumping (Flat horse-trance dance)

Details
SUDJANA KERTON (1922-1994)
Kuda Lumping (Flat horse-trance dance)
signed and dated 'S. KERTON '90' (lower left)
oil on canvas
110 x 141.5 cm. (43?1/4 x 55?3/4 in.)
Painted in 1990
Provenance
Private Collection, Asia
Christie's Hong Kong, April 25, 2004, Lot 580
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner
Private Collection, Asia
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner
Private Collection, Asia
Literature
Sudjana Kerton, Sanggar Luhur Publication, Tanah Airku: My Country Indonesia - Paintings by S. Kerton, Jakarta, 1990 (illustrated p. 63).
Rizki Akhmad Zaelani, Louise Kerton, Astri Wright, Pendidikan Dan Kebudayaan (Ministry of Education and Culture), Nationalism and Its Transformations: Re?ection on Works of Sudjana Kerton, Bandung, 1996 (illustrated p. 129).
Exhibited
Brisbane, Queensland Art Gallery, The First Asia-Paci?c Triennial of Contemporary Art, September to December 1993.

Brought to you by

Jacky Ho (何善衡)
Jacky Ho (何善衡) Head of Evening Sale

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

“Kerton’s paintings are many-faceted: they are animist and they are exaggerated, icon-like; they are hilarious and they are poignant, filled with tenderness for the people and the situations depicted... His paintings are suffused with a quality of intimate, nostalgic involvement combined with the more distant perspective of the outsider. They speak simultaneously about life in Indonesia, which gives them their sharpness and their humor, and about human life everywhere, which gives them the power of universal communication.” - Ed. Joseph Fischer, Modern Indonesia Art: Three Generations of Tradition and Change 1945-1990, p.147

Painted in his later years, Kuda Lumping by Indonesian modern master Sudjana Kerton is executed in his mature style and a masterpiece that is a culmination of decades of artistic explorations and experimentations. Its relatively large format makes it an extraordinary work by the Indonesian modern master, whose works are zealously collected by both institutions and private individuals alike, and thus rarely encountered in the market.

Born in Bandung, Indonesia, during Indonesia’s struggle for independence from the Dutch, it was this cultural climate that imbued in the young Kerton a profound sense of nationalism. At this time, Kerton was an illustrator-journalist for the Patriot newspaper, which proved to be an appropriate outlet for him to express his political beliefs freely while honing his natural journalistic sensibilities. In order to record historical moments and ordinary everyday events, the artist had to be adept in sketching with incredible speed to capture each moment in the most essential of lines. This not only developed his desire to record and retain a history of the people in his works, but simultaneously made him an extremely powerful draughtsman, which carries through in the power and confidence demonstrated in the delineation of forms in his paintings. However, what makes Kerton a true master is his ability to not only capture the physical form of his subjects, but to bring out in his skilfully articulated lines, the internal psychological aspect and energy of his characters. Indeed, speaking about his paintings the artist himself states: “I am part of every subject I paint, I share the feelings, the happiness, the misery, the hunger or thirst, the rain, the heat.” (My Country Indonesia, p. 5)

Kuda Lumping is eponymously titled after the traditional Javanese dance it depicts. The Kuda Lumping dance is dated back to the 1940s, when Indonesia won their independence from Dutch colonialists, explaining its animistic and political undertones. The origins of the dance are often debated, with one theory being that it was inspired by Prince Diponegoro’s heroic role in the Java War (1825-1830) where he fought against the Dutch and strived to free Indonesia from their foreign rule, establishing him as a legendary figure in the country’s history. Kerton’s choice to depict this particular dance performance as a focal subject in his painting is an eloquent pairing of his artistic and nationalistic ideologies in a creative framework. In Kuda Lumping the sheer energy and exuberance of the dance experienced by the audience, is represented in Kerton’s choice of colours; the vibrant crimson that dominates the canvas pulsates with the visceral emotions of the dancers and musicians as they perform in front of their village peers. Some parts of the Kuda Lumping are performed in a trance-like state where the dancers believe they are wild horses, and thereby begin to take on the characteristics of the animal. The presence of the horse puppet shown with the main dancer in the middle symbolizes this animalistic duality. Compositionally, there appears to be no logical perspectival hierarchy and the eye is forced to move in a spiral pattern, starting with the dancers in the middle of the canvas, and out towards the musicians and the clamouring audience in the background, replicating the disorganised energy of these community events that bring together the village in an informal communal manner. Infused with a strong sense of the community and a sincerity of representation, Kuda Lumping achieves the aims set forth by Kerton in the final phase of his artistic practice.

Kerton was an active participant in the populist artistic group Peleokis Rakjat (People’s Painters Institution), which was led by Hendra Gunawan and included other forefathers of Indonesian modern art like Sudjojono and Affandi. However, of all his contemporaries, Kerton was the only one to have spent extensive time abroad, and having spent more than a quarter of a century in the West undoubtedly influenced his pictorial language. During the 1950s, the artist spent time in both America and Europe, producing works of a cooler and more subdued palette, evidently influenced by the Cubist movement spearheaded by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Yet, it was not till his trip to Mexico in 1963, where he was exposed to the murals of Rufino Tamayo and Diego Rivera that there was a dynamic shift in Kerton’s visual language: figures became reduced to their most essential forms, and his palette becomes interjected with a vibrant explosion of colour, as demonstrated in another work by the artist, Wayang Golek.

Resplendent and spirited, Kerton’s Kuda Lumping the local subject matter and vibrant palette captures a small sliver of the sheer richness of the artist’s motherland, and a reflection of his personal values of being true to his intentions as an artist to continue to tell the story of the people through his works.

More from 20th/21st Century Art Evening Sale

View All
View All