Affandi is acknowledged as one of Indonesia's top modern artists. In the 1950s, he developed the expressionistic technique of painting straight from the tube. In this sale, the five paintings dated between 1958 and 1967 illustrate the breadth of Affandi's vision as a painter of modern life. The 1960s leading up to the early 1970s is considered one of the most productive and excellent phases of Affandi's painting career where he consolidated his reputation as one of the leading Asian artists in his travels and exhibitions within Indonesia and also in America and other parts of the world.
Christie's is proud to be able to bring these five superlative examples of his works from this period to auction. Upacara Adat (A Traditional Ceremony) (Lot 1270) shows a scene of ritual ceremony performed in traditional Indonesia society. The vividness of the scene is captured in the close-up details of the ceremony, as much as Storm Over Water (Lot 1272) and Mountain Village (Lot 1271) attempt successfully to reflect the sense of wonderment and awe that Affandi, who often painted plein-air, must have felt observing nature and the landscape around him. Large curlicues of paint directly applied from the tube are painted with a studied abandon that only Affandi could have managed. Affandi's landscapes bear a distinct personal impression of the locale and the activities that go on inside, expressed in how he allows his emotional response to guide him in his painting.
The self-portrait is one of Affandi's favourite recurring painting subject. Self-Portrait, 1958 (Lot 1130) is a rare early example of his self-portrait where the pensive state of mind of the artist is illustrated in to admirable expressionism. Affandi had completed his art studies in Santiniketan, India in the early 1950s where he had not yet fully developed his style of painting direct from the tube. Self-Portrait, 1958 marks what can be considered one of his earliest mature self-portraits. Santiniketan was among the first art school in Asia to encourage a pan-Asian approach to art and introduce East Asian influences to contemporary Indian painting. But Santiniketan's art school was not just a passive consumer of non- Indian influences. It had the international stature and influence to spread its teachings outside India. Affandi, along with key Southeast Asian artists such as Bayi Aung Soe of Burma; and fellow Indonesian Rusli (Lot 1273) have all studied in India at Santiniketan. Deemed to be a professional painter by the teachers at Santiniketan and asked to tour and paint India, Affandi absorbed this formative experience and found his travels and the different landscape and experiences that he could find rewarding as painting subjects.
From India, he went on to represent Indonesia at the Sao Paulo and Venice Biennale and painted practically everywhere he went. Pictures of village and modern life is dominant in his oeuvre with a work such as Crabs and Watermelon (Lot 1131) outstanding for the rarity of its subject. Affandi exhibited the work in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, portraying his two favourite foods. The rich and full succulent freshness of watermelon is lovingly captured by Affandi, amongst a number of crabs, with the thick exoskeletons and prominent claws of the crustaceans richly detailed.