SUNARYO (Indonesian, B. 1943)
SUNARYO (Indonesian, B. 1943)

Between Two Spheres

SUNARYO (Indonesian, B. 1943)
Between Two Spheres
signed and dated 'Sunaryo 00' (lower right)
mixed media on canvas
140 x 120 cm. (55 1/8 x 47 1/4 in.)
Painted in 2000
Anon. sale; Christie's Hong Kong, 27 May 2012, Lot 2137
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner
Washington DC, U.S.A., CP Artspace, Sunaryo: A Stage of Metamorphosis, 15 May-15 June 2001.

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Eric Chang
Eric Chang

Lot Essay


In contrary to "Yogyakarta" art school which focused on the themes of Indonesian beauty and everyday life, the style of "Bandung" school of artists is one preoccupied with the expression of spirituality with the prominent influence from the western painting style that was carried by expatriate lecturers. This resulting in the reconstruction of not only the thinking process of its graduates but also expanding their appreciation to a different kind of art contrasting to what they have. Thus the graduates from Institut Teknologi Bandung (Bandung Institute of Technology) such as A.D. Pirous, Ahmad Sadali, Sunaryo and Zaini reflects the emergence of a distinctively Indonesian style of abstraction during the 70s and 80s.

A.D. Pirous is regarded as one of the most influential artists and important figure for the advancement of Indonesian modern art movement, especially through his involvement as an academic and also as an artist. Pirous graduated from ITB in 1964 and appointed as one of the lecturer in ITB specializing in art, typography, and calligraphy right after. He then established the Communication and Design department in ITB.

Born in Meulaboh, Aceh, Pirous has been familiar to Islamic culture ever since. Given the chance to explore western art through his travels, Pirous then starting to contemplate on the quality of Indonesian modern abstract works. For Pirous, his artworks are his personal spiritual journey – Pirous would cite relevant verses from the Holy Quran that represent certain episode of his life journey and insert then to the painting. Through his familiarity to Islamic culture, Pirous with his distinguished and articulate work of art became one of the most influential modern abstract masters of Indonesia.

Bila Bumi Bergetar II (When the Earth Quakes II) is an exquisite example of Pirous' matured work. Being the biggest pieces offered to the market by far, Bila Bumi Bergetar II explores the eclectic interaction between shapes, lines and the choice of strong colour palette. Stylized Arabic calligraphy embossed in the body of the two main triangles which interacts between each other, complemented with gold leaf ornaments in the middle of the canvas attracting the attention of its viewer. The appearance of the triangle is an evident influence of Ahmad Sadali's gunungan (triangle) theme. Bright thin vermillion line on the right side of the canvas draws the attention from the centre of the canvas moving to the sides of the canvas. Western characteristic infused to the mainly presented eastern elements in the form of vibrant colour blocks. The amalgamation of Arabic calligraphy and Pirous ability to process lines, bold composition with the combination of textures in Bila Bumi Bergetar II, shows his unparalleled ability as an artist at that time.

On the other side, Segitiga Pada Hamparan Emas offered a rather expressive exploration on lines, and shape. In this painting, lines are seen organically drawn on top of the gold leaf, offering a tactile texture to the painting. Additionally, the colour chosen for this piece is a harmonious match to the tone of gold leaf, making it a pleasant experience for the viewer. Executed in 2000, Segitiga Pada Hamparan Emas is a testament to Pirous passion on developing his artistry throughout his artistic journey.

On the other hand, Ahmad Sadali came to abstract art as a budding young artists in the 1950s. He is considered one of the most important modernist artists in Indonesian art. Completed in 1985, At The End Of Life, Your Good Deed Will Be Left Behind (Lot 470) is a realization of Sadali's modernity that took form in the application of golden leaf, textures created, gunungan theme, calligraphy which established the meditative quality to this highly composed piece that evokes a range of tactile and viewing sensation. A new quality and understanding of the pictorial surface is realized through the use of different medium. At The End Of Life, Your Good Deed Will Be Left Behind is a highly representative work of the artist's progression from his earlier painting style where he created abstract painting with emotion-laden brushwork.

Different from Pirous and Sadali, Zaini's and Sunaryo's approach on their painting style are highly inspired by the western abstraction. Zaini's work in Red Boats (Lot 468) offers a different approach to the modern abstraction. Zaini's flowing lineworks are spontaneous yet soft , outlining the shape of boats. These fine lineworks has similar characteristic and quality of Chinese calligraphy strokes. Zaini's work is an outlook to a world full of spiritual reflection. Within that world one finds personal responses about longing, loneliness, and even emptiness. Completed in 1975, Red Boat s was painted in the pinnacle of Zaini's realization of abstraction where he began to introduce poetic atmosphere into his work.

Coming a generation after Ahmad Sadali, Sunaryo maintained a steadfast commitment to integrating thoughts on morality, ethics and aesthetic in his paintings thought abstraction. Between Two Spheres (lot 469) by Sunaryo creates an imaginary dialogue between a fish and butterfly. The imagery of both animals are discernible in the textured surface of the work. Although superficially different, both are limited in their respective realm of existence, one by the element of water, the other by the brevity of life. Sunaryo infuses an acute philosophical edge in this work, composing a response to the realisation of limitations

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