It was a combination of Affandi's irrepressible impulse to create and frustration at not being able to find his art tools that led him to forego the paintbrush completely and apply his medium directly onto the canvas from the tube. Somewhat ironically, it was this fit of pique that led to a moment of innovation that ultimately defined his style and informed the global canon of 20th century expressionism in Indonesian art. The self-taught artist continued to paint without a brush or any other intermediaries in favor of a technique that allowed him to project raw emotion onto the canvas. In fact, af fandi prioritized pure expressionism as a means of unifying himself with the subject and strongly rejected the intellectualization of his own art. In his later years, the renowned artist travelled through multiple continents to share his art, exhibiting and working throughout europe, the United States, South america and asia before returning to his home in Indonesia. Christie's is delighted to present three works created during Affandi's journeys in which the painter projects a uniquely Indonesian artistic lens onto vistas of the outside world.
Painted in 1972, Snow Landscape in Italy (Lot 457) depicts snowcapped mountains in a view that would have been stunningly strange to a man hailing from the sticky heat of the tropics. The unfamiliar landscape is translated into a light, white filled canvas atypical of the artist's large, shadowy, dark-hued oeuvre. From between the peaks the sun, depicted by swirling circles of paint. Energizes the scene. In his range of symbolic motifs, the sun reappears again and again, indicating Affandi's regard for its centrality to life. Bringing both warmth and dynamism to the panorama, the rays of the "life symbol" spin and flare out from the top of the canvas in dynamic, thick arcs of yellow and white paint that oscillate with rhythmic life in an otherwise unmoving setting. Amid the symmetrical placement of the elements in the composition, bold smudges of blue-green mould the shadows of the peaks, while white impasto ripples suggest the liquid origins of the snowfall that covers them. Upon viewing Snow Landscape in Italy, one understands why the country Affandi depicts here chose to grant him the title of Grand Maestro.
The earliest work of the three lots, Affandi's 1958 Grand Canyon I is one half of a series commissioned by fanatic collector Joseph Borkin during Affandi's stay in the United States. Like its counterpart, Grand Canyon II (Lot 456), the work successfully translates the immensity of a world-renowned natural landmark and the emotional reaction of its deeply sensitive onlooker. Painted from an omnipotent view, undulating strokes of dark greens and swirls of black move around the centerpiece of an abstracted triangle comprising glowing reds and tawny oranges. The energized network of twisted strokes and emotive colours play to form a dense and rich composition that unify the painter, and then the viewer, with the awe-inspiring work of nature itself.