Artivist, observes and reports on developments in the Bali and Indonesian art scenes
The demise of tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a dramatic downturn in Bali's economy. The artists of the island’s cultural epicenter, Ubud, have been especially hit hard.
Larasati Auctioneers' Traditional, Modern and Contemporary Art Bali sale in Ubud on Dec. 5 will return the spotlight to the renowned artists village. In the past, artists from the Ubud region gave birth to exciting new genres that have captured the hearts of people around the world. In doing so, they helped establish Bali's tourism beginning in the 1930s.
From 3 p.m. on Saturday, 40 works in a range of styles by Balinese, Indonesian and international artists will go under the hammer. The auction will be conducted live in the saleroom at Larasati Bali Art Space at Tebesaya Gallery, Ubud. The virtual exhibition of the works is running until Saturday, accessible via the Larasati website. The sale marks the return of the auctions to Ubud after the easing of government restrictions on public gatherings, and underlines Larasati’s commitment in supporting Balinese art.
The sale offers opportunities for the connoisseurs of Balinese painting, along with intermediate and new buyers into the market. The art styles include sketches in ink, pencil and mixed media on paper, woodcut prints on paper, hand-colored linocuts on paper, along with works in gouache, mixed media, acrylic and oil paint pictures on canvas. Works by some foreign artists include those from Australian Donald Friend (1915-1989), Dutchmen Auke Sonnega (1910-1963) and Han Snel (1925-1998) and the flamboyant Spanish-Filipino Antonio Blanco (1912-1999).
For new collectors wishing to enter the market with limited budgets, the following works offer good value-buying, especially if purchased within their estimated prices. Two vibrant pictures, hand-colored linocut prints on paper by Austrian artist Emil Rizek (1901-1988), Lot 805 Legong Dancer and Lot 806 Watercarrier in Bali, have estimated prices of between Rp 4 million and 6 million. Lot 809 Baris Dancer by Balinese artist Ketut Rudin (1918/1920-2002) in watercolor, Chinese ink and gold ink on paper has an estimated value of between Rp 3 million and 5 million.
Lot 808, a gorgeous gouache on paper depiction of Village Near the River, Celebes 1930 by French artist Lea Lafugie (1890-1972) has an estimated price of between Rp 3 million and 5 million. Lot 818 Melasti, acrylic on canvas, depicting a village scenario in the iconic Ubud style by Made Madra, comes with an estimated price of between Rp 6 million and 8 million.
Intermediate buyers take note of the following. Pioneering modernist Nyoman Gunarsa (1944-2017) introduced a dynamic style of "action painting" into the Balinese art. He transformed the previously static scenarios of ceremonies and performances into exciting works that captured the vibrant energy and color of the culture. Lot 816 by Gunarsa, Tari Legong Keraton (1988) is a 95 by 95 cm oil on canvas by the maestro that has an estimated value of between Rp 28 million and 38 million.
The Death of Kumbakarna, Lot 831 by Gusti Nyoman Moleh (1918-1997) from Padang Tegal, Ubud, is a beautiful 64 by 83 cm acrylic on canvas depiction of a Balinese mythological encounter. Moleh’s iconography leads the observer’s eye in a circular motion to the composition’s focal point emphasizing the drama of the battle. It has an estimated value of between Rp 12 million and 15 million.
Nyoman Kayun, born in 1954 in Peliatan, Ubud, is one of the celebrated living artists of the famous Ubud School of Painting. His pictures are rarely available on the market. Lot 835 Pasupati depicts a priest conducting a ceremony to enable supernatural powers to an object.
It describes invisible elements of the Balinese culture that are required to help balance the universal positive and negative forces. The 56 by 39.5 cm acrylic on canvas picture comes with an estimated value of between Rp 22 million and 32 million. Anak Agung Gde Raka Puja (1932-2016) is also a celebrated painter of the Ubud School. His 80 by 130 cm acrylic on canvas composition is a colorful description of a village cockfight. He paid great attention to the skin tones of his figures along with the detailed motifs on the batik costumes. Lot 838 Tajen and Spectators has an estimated price of between Rp 35 million and 50 million.
Connoisseurs of Balinese painting will focus on the following artworks, especially the final item and one of the highlights of the sale, Lot 840 Tari Parembon Tupeng by Ida Bagus Made Poleng (1915-1999). Often described as one of the most influential and important of all Balinese painters, Poleng grew up with the Brahmin family tradition of making sacred ritual objects and pictures. He cared little about the art market, often ignoring collectors who pursued him. Inspired by the iconic 1954 painting by Dutchman Rudolf Bonnet (1895-1978) Bali Dancers Dressing for a Performance, which is in the collection of Indonesia's first president Sukarno, Tari Parembon Tupeng is a rare, early and stunning work by Poleng. The 75.5 by 64 cm acrylic on canvas picture, with excellent provenance from a collector in the United States, has an estimated price of between Rp 420 million and 520 million.
Lot 812 Drawing (1997) by Singaporean artist Teng Nee Cheong (1951-2013) is a stunning artwork and one of the highlights of the sale. The charcoal composition of a reclining Balinese nude figure upon gold leaf on paper has a powerful and distinct negative aspect. The 79 by 55 cm picture has an estimated price of between Rp 60 million and 80 million.
I Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih (1966-2006), otherwise known as Murni, is arguably the most important female artist in Indonesian art history. Her vibrant minimal pictures, often confronting, even violent, describe the plight of women within the patriarchal Balinese society. Lot 830 Jamu Kesukaanku is a powerful yet light-hearted picture that reveals her extraordinary imagination, while distinguishing her in a class of her own. A sexualized image of a traditional herb seller with her potent concoctions, this 150 by 100 cm acrylic on canvas picture has an estimated value of between Rp 75 million and 90 million. Lot 834 Gugurnya Boma (1972) is by one of the leading figures of the Pita Maha artists collective in the 1930s, Gusti Ketut Kobot (1917-1999). His natural pigment, black ink and gold ink on canvas depiction of a mythological scene has an estimated price of between Rp 45 million and 55 million.
Other good buys available are the stunning oil on canvas depiction of a Balinese ceremony precession, Lot 815 Temple Festival (1994) by Sen Pao (b. 1949), which has an estimated value of between Rp 15 million and 20 million, and Lot 819 Birds of Paradise by Ketut Sepi (1942-2016) with an estimated price of between Rp 8 million and 11 million. Other well-known artists in the sale include Wayan Taweng (1926-2004), Ida Bagus Rai (1933-2007), Dewa Putu Mokoh (1934-2010), Ketut Gelgel (b.1944) and Krijono (1951-2011).
Potential buyers bidding over the phone, absentee bidders or real-time internet bidders are advised to contact Larasati and inquire about the color reproduction accuracy of the images contained within the online catalogue to ensure that what they wish to purchase can be realistically appraised. The absence of reference to the condition of a lot in the catalogue description does not imply that the lot is free from faults or imperfections, therefore condition reports of the works, outlining the paintings current state and whether it has repairs or over painting are available upon request.
Provenance, the historical data of the works previous owner or owners, is also important and is provided. An information guide, including before the auction, during the auction and after the auction, details conditions of business, the bidding process, payment, storage and insurance, and shipping of the work is available. A buyer's premium is payable by the buyer of each lot at a rate of 22 percent of the hammer price of the lot. The online catalogue, complete with a guide for prospective buyers, is available to the public from the Larasati website and should be studied carefully by all wishing to participate in this auction.
The public are reminded to please wear masks and maintain social distancing during the preview and auction. The auctioneer will conduct the auction live in the Sale Room. (wng)
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