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Previewing the Traditional, Modern and Contemporary Art sale at Larasati Bali

Richard Hortsman

The Jakarta Post

Bali  /  Fri, April 30, 2021  /  09:46 pm
Previewing the Traditional, Modern and Contemporary Art sale at Larasati Bali

Lot 713, "Ganesha Samsara", 2011, by Nyoman Wirdana. Oil on canvas, 128 centimeter by 160 cm. (JP/Courtesy of Larasati Auctioneers)

A fascinating aspect of Balinese art is how the first president of Indonesia, Sukarno (1901-1970), used images of Bali as a potent political tool. An avid art collector whose mother was Balinese, Sukarno adopted images inherited from the colonial era to integrate Bali into the modern Indonesian state. Symbols of beauty, peace and harmony, Balinese paintings then represented the new nation onto the international geopolitical stage during the 1950s.

Artworks categorized by the Ubud School of Painting, the most famous Balinese art genre, feature in the upcoming Traditional, Modern and Contemporary Art Larasati Bali Sale in Ubud on Saturday. Some of the renowned artists included in the sale are Ida Bagus Made Poleng, Ida Bagus Nadera, Gusti Ketut Kobot and his brother Gusti Made Mangku Baret. Ida Bagus Rai, Anak Agung Gde Meregeg, the unique innovator Dewa Putu Mokoh (1934-2010), along with famed Dutch artists Willem Gerard Hofker and Arie Smit.

From 3 p.m. on Saturday, 40 works of art go under the hammer at the Larasati Bali Art Space at Tebesaya Gallery, Tebesaya, Ubud.

A virtual exhibition, open from April 23 to Saturday, offers a user-friendly preview of the sale within a digital space, allowing close-up observation and varying perspectives as if one is walking through a gallery. The sale features various painting mediums and genres, from lush tropical vistas to golden rice field harvests, to village and mythological Balinese scenes, as well as works in a range of prices to suit those with limited funds, the intermediate and advanced collectors.

For enthusiasts wishing to start collecting with a small budget, the following works offer good buying opportunities, especially if purchased within their estimated prices. Limited-edition posters of iconic Bali, printed in the Netherlands by one of the most famous European artists to visit and work in Bali, Hofker (1902-1981), are for sale.

Lot 701, Ni Gusti Njoman Klepon, 30 centimeters by 22 cm, and Lot 702, Ryst Veld Achter Ons Huis Op Ubud, Bali, which is 32 cm by 23 cm in size, are in good condition, framed and have an estimated price of between Rp 3 million (US$208) and Rp 5 million. 

Then there’s Lot 709, Bima Fighting the Beast by Dewa Ketut Ding (1920-1996), acrylic on canvas 58 cm by 38 cm, which has an estimated price between Rp 6 million and Rp 10 million. Also, Lot 729, Upacara Potong Gigi, by Made Tubuh (b. 1941 Ubud), acrylic on canvas 42 cm by 66 cm, has an estimated price of between Rp 4 million and Rp 6 million.

For buyers with an intermediate budget, the following works are of interest.

First, there is Lot 710, The Battle of Kurusetra, which is by one of the first-generation painters of the famous Pita Maha artist collective founded in Ubud (1936-1942), Anak Agung Gde Meregeg (1908/1912-2000). The 66 cm by 100 cm acrylic on canvas composition features mythological characters presenting the forces of dark against light and has an estimated price of between Rp 40 million and Rp 50 million.

A wind-swept background combined with the dynamic motion of traditional dancers captures perfectly the movement and energy that describe the seen and unseen worlds of Bali.

Lot 734, Kecak Dance Performing Rama and Shinta, is a 50 cm by 39 cm acrylic on canvas work by Nyoman Kayun (b. 1954 Peliatan, Ubud). This beautiful, lively picture has an estimated price of between Rp 38 million and Rp 48 million. Lot 737, Pandawa dalam Pengasingan by Ida Bagus Rai (1933 - 2007), is acrylic on canvas, 76 cm by 58 cm and comes with an estimated value of between Rp 15 million and Rp 20 million.

For the connoisseurs of Balinese painting, the following works are of interest. The iconic Dutch colorist and long-term Bali resident Arie Smit (1916-2016) is renowned for his stylistic interpretations of village and landscape scenarios. Lot 723, Pemandangan Laut, 2006, however, is one of his rare seascapes. The 42 cm by 49 cm acrylic on canvas composition, dominated by blues describing the sky and sea, is signed and dated on the lower-right; inscribed, signed and dated on the reverse and has an estimated value of between Rp 75 million and Rp 85 million. The work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

Pictures by Ida Bagus Made Poleng (1915-199), celebrated as one of the most significant Balinese painters of the 20th-century, are highly cherished by collectors. Lot 710, Barong Dance Performing Calonarang, is a 64 cm by 56 cm, acrylic on canvas composition of balance and precision, describing drama and conflict. The bottom-left depicts a performer in the sacred cleansing ceremony dressed as a monkey. He cheekily tempts the Barong (mythological panther-like creature) with a banana. Immediately to the right, in direct contrast, another performer is overcome by the spell of Rangda, the wicked witch, and is depicted stabbing himself with the ceremonial kris.

Lot 710, Lot 710, "The Battle of Kurusetra", Anak Agung Gde Meregeg. Acrylic on canvas, 66 centimeters by 100 cm. (JP/Courtesy of Larasati Auctioneers)

The upper half of the composition is also complete with high drama. As the observer’s eye is led in a circular motion around the picture, the visual stimulus, from the dramatic to the peaceful, represents the duality of life. The painting has strong provenance. It was purchased directly from the artist in the 1960s and was formerly in the collection of Leonard Mattson, UNESCO ambassador to Indonesia in the 1960s. Lot 740 has an estimated value of between Rp 300 million and Rp 400 million.

Other works of interest in the sale are Lot 726, Suasana Sore, by Ni Gusti Agung Galuh. The foremost Balinese woman painter in the gorgeous and highly technical oil on canvas landscape style pioneered the famed Bali cultural expert and multitalented creative German, Walter Spies (1895-1942). The 60 cm by 80 cm composition depicting the beautiful late afternoon ambiance of lush tropical Bali has an estimated price of between Rp 32 million and Rp 42 million.

Nyoman Wirdana (b. 1976 Tejakula, North Bali) is an artist of extraordinary talent who, unfortunately, remains virtually unknown. His oil paintings of incredible technical precision take up to 18 months to complete and are rarely available on the secondary market. One of the few contemporary works offered during the sale is Lot 713, Ganesha Samara, 2011, which is 128 cm by 160 cm. This beautiful composition with flowing organic and floral forms with minimal green coloration creating a powerful visual contrast with the dominant reddish-pink hues, has an estimated value of between Rp 15 million and Rp 20 million.

The story of the Rajapala describes a young hunter who, while wandering through the forest, encounters a group of heavenly nymphs bathing in a stream. Rajapala steals the shawl of one of the beauties, so she cannot fly home and he can make her his wife. One of the most famous narratives from Balinese folklore is reinterpreted by Gusti Made Mangku Baret (1920-2012). Lot 738, Rajapala Mencuri Selendang Bidadari, 1983, comes with an estimated value of between Rp 20 million and Rp 30 million.

Potential buyers bidding over the phone, absentee bidders or real-time internet bidders are advised to contact Larasati and enquire about the color reproduction accuracy of the images contained within the online catalog to ensure that what they wish to purchase can be realistically appraised. The absence of a reference to the condition of a lot in the catalog description does not imply that the lot is free from faults or imperfections; therefore, condition reports of the works outlining the painting’s current state and whether it has repairs or over-painting, are available upon request. 

Provenance, the historical data of the work's previous owner, is also important and is provided. An information guide is provided before the auction, during the auction and after the auction, detailing the conditions of business, the bidding process, payment, storage and insurance, and shipping of the work. 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 catalog, complete with a guide for prospective buyers is available to the public and should be studied carefully by all wishing to participate in this auction. 

All works offered in the online listing include a brief condition report compiled by Larasati based on its observation of the work. Larasati specialists are not professional conservators; therefore, they suggest that prospective buyer consult their own restorer for a more thorough professional report. Larasati emphasizes that works should be viewed personally by professional advisers before the sale to assess the work's conditions.

Preview the online virtual exhibition until Saturday.

Physical preview at Larasati Bali Art Space:

April 30: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
May 1: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

The live auction, open to the public, begins at 3 p.m. 

Larasati Bali Art Space
at Tebesaya Gallery
Jl. Jatayu, Banjar Tebesaya, Peliatan, Ubud
Gianyar, Bali 80571 Indonesia

All visitors to the Larasati Bali Art Space are required to wear face masks.