Self portrait is undoubtedly a very emotional subject for all artists. It is a subject which Affandi would constantly return to throughout his career. As an expressionist artist, one could not read too much into these self portraits of Affandi. The audience is brought into an intimate psychological world of the artist. It has been noted that the artist often highlighted his own forehead in many of these works.
A most obvious example is the work titled I am under the lamp (Visions and Enchantment, Singapore Art Museum in Association with Christie's Singapore, Singapore, 2000, plate 42.) which Affandi painted in 1964. Interestingly, it is a work which he painted in a relatively realistic style during a time when his signature expressionistic style has clearly reached a stage of maturity. In this particular work, the artist was depicted, literally, under the lamp as the title suggested and hence most part of his face was shadowed with the light of the lamp mainly centered on the forehead. It is interpreted as self-congratulatory and recoganising his own ingenuity by some.
Not all of the self portraits are of such lofty aspiration. In retrospect, with the gathering of many of his self portraits, one sees the works recorded the gradual aging process of the artist, who were sad, happy, angry and pensive in these depictions. The intensity of these portraits were attempts of the artist to seize his moments in life and honestly recording his emotions, complex or simple, of a specific moment.