"When I started interviewing artists, collectors and curators in Indonesia in late 1987, I experienced that the name Hendra nearly always came up in the course of conversations about who were the greatest Indonesian painters. This seemed to happen whether my informant was a wealthy art collector, a recognized artist or a poor art student, whether someone with a radical world view or someone most satisfied with the establishment and the status quo. One collector I met lives surrounded by Hendra's works, many of which he commissioned personally, providing the paint and canvas while Hendra was in prison. The collector speaks passionately of Hendra's genius for colour and his daring use of contrasts, in composition and theme." (Astri Wright, Modern Indonesian Art: Three Generations of Tradition and Change 1945-1990, ed. Joseph Fischer, United States, 1990, p. 121).
The comment above illustrates the wide spread empathy the Indonesian community had for the artist, Hendra Gunawan. This is a reciprocal exchange as it testifies to the artist's ability to touch a chord of the heart of the community with his paintings. Hendra's works are about the people and more specifically about the women of his community.
The present canvas elegantly illustrates the tendency of the artist to glorify women. The colours were used strategically and unabashedly to bring out the grandiose of the landscape, which were in the characteristic green, blue and earthy tones that gave the work a sobriety that was enlivened by the riot of colours on the women, be it with the clothes on them or the clothes to be washed by them. Clearly, the subjects were on their way to the stream, which in many villages was the forum for communal activities: water was taken for domestic use, baths were taken in it and children playing by its side. The women depicted in the composition were in varying stages of their daily routines. Looming large in the foreground were 2 ladies, one of whom was carrying a sleeping child in her arm and talking to the other who had either just completed her washing and was seen carrying clothes of myriad colours or perhaps was on her way down to the stream to start her washing. Both had stopped their activities and were chatting. Depicted on the left corner is another lady in pink who clearly had just finished her washing routine and was making her way back. Depicted also in the lower right corner is a strolling turkey on which the artist generously endowed with striking red against the cool and dark sheen of the fowl's feathers.
Such is a delightful 'seize the moment' image of the daily routines of the womenfolk in the village which Hendra has presented with a beauty and theatricality that removes the mundane nature of an otherwise boring activity, thereby ejecting a sense of elegance and nobility to his protagonists.