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(Indonesian, 1923-1994)
Portrait of Rohana
signed 'Mochtar Apin' (lower right)
oil on canvas
63 x 50 cm. (24 3/4 x 19 5/8 in.)
Mochtar Apin, born 1923, is a major figure in the discourse of Indonesian modern art, and his artistic trajectory spans from the late colonial, the revolution, and the post-independence history of Indonesia. He was one of the pioneers around the fine art department of the Bandung Institute of Technology who were making explorations along the lines of high international modernism. Since its inception, the Bandung school has always been closely tied with the discourse of modern art movements of Europe and America.

He grew up as a gentleman, and had pursued artistic education in Europe. His development as an artist took place alongside his participation in discussions about modern art and the transference of art theory, practice, and history in new formal structures established in Indonesia for the learning of modern art for the succeeding generations of artists. However, his significance in the development of modern art in Indonesia is rarely given full accolade.
Throughout his artistic career, Mochtar Apin proves to be one of such exemplary artist who continues to search and experiment for new styles of visual and artistic language. This season, Christie's is pleased to offer the different styles and periods of Apin's artistic journey,

In the 1980s, Apin launched into a headlong stylistic shift, from abstract painting to painting figurative nudes. Senam (Lot 195) is a sophisticated example of Apin's series of nude paintings, executed at the height of this sustained period painting nudes. The green nude lies provocatively, sensual in pose and colour, against a dark featureless background that heightens the presence of the figure.

Portrait of Rohana (Lot 196) is a beautiful and rare example of his early figurative work, and displays the zeitgeist (spirit of the time) and romance of Indonesia's early post-independence period. The dress, the pose, and the sophisticated choice of colours allude to the air of that period when Indonesia had just acquired its independence, beginning a new chapter as a newly emerging nation.

On the other hand, Jalur Miring (Lot 197) is a prime example of his late geometric-abstractive works. With a firework of trademark Apin colours, Jalur Miring really exemplifies the artist's pursuit of modern style, and is refreshingly avant-garde for its time. As a modern Indonesian artist, one might argue that Apin's artistic approach particularly shown in this piece is rather post-modernly. While modernism dictates artists to adhere to one particular visual style, Apin's approach is quite the antithesis of that. This is a work of an artist who never stops exploring artistically.

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