One of the most significant artists within the canon of 20th century Indonesian art is the expressionist painter Affandi. His rejection of the intellectualization of art drove his preference towards an expressionism that was derived from the soul and predicated on a humanist feeling for the world. During his foundational years of the 1930s, Affandi relied strongly on the use of thick, unguent pastels, combining an intuitive finesse for naturalism with powerfully expressed spontaneity. This evolved into the characteristically bold strokes and three-dimensional impasto layering which define his later works. 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, particularly his tour of the United States, culminating in the watershed exhibition in Washington, 'Affandi in America'; and his 'Affandi: Exposi??o Retrospectiva 1940-1966' at the Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro, after travels in South America. Cityscape of Chicago (Lot 423) and Kite Seller at Copacabana Beach (Lot 424) are masterful examples of Affandi's travel paintings. Renowned writer and critic of Affandi's work, Astri Wright observes that the artist's smearing of paint with his fingers, palms, wrists and the back of his hands, adds a human texture to each painting, as though it is saturated with the artist's personal life force, and certainly he imbues his excitement at travelling to new places within each artwork produced upon his sojourns.
Cityscape of Chicago is a densely sophisticated portrayal of the 1950s Chicago, which deeply impressed itself upon Affandi's recollection. Affandi successfully captures the scene of an affluent, bustling metropolis, expansive with skyscrapers (then a novelty in the 1950s) and awash in bright lights. This composition reflects Affandi at the height of his creative powers, merging inspiration from his new surroundings with a lucid and forceful painting technique.
Kite Seller at Copacabana Beach is a vibrant and effervescent rendition of the famous Copacabana beach. The kite seller with his phalanx of brilliant, floating kites in the shape of majestic birds and phoenixes is the focus of attention, as the kite strings and elegant long tails sway in the breeze. In the background horizon, the bulk of the famed Sugarloaf Mountain is visible. Affandi used a lighter touch within this work, and the warm colours and elements of white space cohere to evoke a warm, balmy atmosphere and the joie de vivre of Brazilian life and culture.