Property From An Indonesian Private Collection

Origen's Gambit

Origen's Gambit
titled, inscribed, signed and dated 'Origen's Gambit/2016-2017/acrylic on canvas/250 x 190 cm/Gede Mahendra Yasa’ (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
250 x 190 cm. (98 3/8 x 74 3/4 in.)
Painted between 2016-2017
Private Collection, Indonesia

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Annie Lee
Annie Lee

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Lot Essay

Ever since Gede Mahendra Yasa's works caught the attention of the Indonesian and Asian contemporary art world in the mid-2000s, he has maintained a steadfast interest in examining the discourses on art and painting. Mahendra Yasa stands out from other Indonesian contemporary artists in this regard, maintaining a conceptual focus in his art-making. Oregon's Gambit is a key example of his continuous exploration in his art.

In Oregon's Gambit, Mahendra Yasa examines the interactions between the old and the new, specifically focusing on how their intersection paves the way for a new history to be told. Introducing the concept of 'parallel universes' in his work, Mahendra Yasa composes his own perception of the universe. Borrowing from Widayat's depiction of his iconic pohon flamboyan (flame tree), Mahendra Yasa anchors his composition in the form of an enormous tree, which represents the foundation of his 'cosmos'. In this narrative, he takes us deeper into the realm of art history which is represented by his miniaturised recreation of the iconic works of some of Indonesia's famous artistic predecessors such as Raden Saleh, Affandi, Sudjojono, as well as notable European artists who have also played an important part to the growth of Indonesian art such as Han Snel, Rudolf Bonnet, and Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres.

Furthermore, representative figures and characters from history and popular culture make appearances amongst the branches of this fantastically grand tree, some even overflowing off the edges of the canvas. With these socio-political references, Mahendra Yasa draws links between the history of art and the history of the world, reflecting the collision of both trajectories at different junctures in time.

A distinctive shift away from his previous 2016 work, After Paradise Lost, Mahendra's present piece departs from the one-dimensional compositions of traditional Balinese style painting, though without eliminating its strikingly complex composition. The present lot offers an exploration of perspective and depth. In this manner, Mahendra Yasa forges interactions not only between the viewer and his work, but also between the individual elements referencing modern and popular culture, who are seen coexisting in the backdrop of the piece, thus inviting viewers to take a closer look at the majestic and highly-detailed composition.

Mahendra Yasa believes that painting does not simply act as a medium for artists to express themselves, but is also a chance for them to create a philosophical tool, a tool of analysis as well as a means to convey complex concepts. In the artist's own words, "If art is a language, painting is a dialect. The artist's personal style is like the grammar or syntax of a piece of poetry or a short story. There are many stories in art history that I can play with, but I try to play seriously. My references are now more direct because I want the message to be understood clearly."

While other Indonesian contemporary artists focus primarily on depicting the socio-political issues of the nation, Mahendra Yasa breaks the boundaries of typical perceptions toward Indonesian contemporary art with his bolder artistry within this piece. Painted between 2016-2017, Oregon's Gambit is a remarkable testament to Mahendra Yasa's top-notch skill as a storyteller and a self-taught artist.

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