Handiwirman Saputra - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 23, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur
    Private Collection, Asia
    Borobudur Art Auction, Singapore, 11 October 2009, lot 165
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Kuala Lumpur, Valentine Willie Fine Art, Cilukba! (Peekaboo!): An exhibition by Kelompok Seni Rupa Jendela (Jendela Art Group), 26 May - 16 June 2007, pp. 16-17 (illustrated, p. 17)

  • Catalogue Essay

    When it comes to media and form, I choose the object as my interlocutor to build a perception of my own imagination when dealing with objects or observing an object.
    - Handiwirman Saputra

    Yogyakarta-based Handiwirman Saputra is one of the most acclaimed Indonesian contemporary artists who conveys his visual ideas by creating a new fissure within the realms of still-life painting and abstract surrealism. Presenting at the Venice Biennale in Italy in 2019, Saputra is the third Indonesian artist to be invited to the esteemed art event. His gaining international recognition and noteworthy exhibitions are partly attributed to his adept skill as a sculptor and painter, and distinct ability to straddle two- and three-dimensional mediums comfortably to put forth artistic concepts that question the audience’s perception of the world around them.

    Saputra is co-founder of the Kelompok Seni Rupa Jendela (Jendela Art Group), one of Indonesia’s most acclaimed contemporary art collectives. Having met during their time at the Institut Seni Indonesia (ISI) in Yogyakarta, the artist group comprising of Saputra and other celebrated artists Jumaldi Alfi, Mohammad Irfan, Rudi Mantofani, Yunizar and Yusra Martinus, Saputra officially established itself in 1996. Often seen as offering a counterpoint to their peers working with politicized themes, the Jendela artists provoke formalist readings by collectively adopting commonplace materials as a basis for artistic exploration and following their own instinct and intuition while addressing their individual concerns.

    Menahan 2 is a captivating work in nature, executed in a restrained colour palette of predominantly white tones. A white humanoid form floats against a white background, starkly contrasted with the black and broken yellow rubber band or string that ties around a part of the undefinable object. We are immediately drawn to the mere evocation of the presence of human features: a faceless head with a mouth held tight with a piece of string. Through the image, we begin to notice our thresholds of automatic symbolic association, yearning to find meaning behind the visual evocation to show that these forms resemble or represent something, whether it is meant to be a balloon, a human head, a piece of string, or a piece of rock. The title ‘Menahan’ itself suggests ‘to bear’, ‘to retain’ or ‘hold in’ and prompts an introspective evaluation of the eternal conflict between internality and externality, alluding to words or sentiments that are unrevealed and unspoken. Saputra navigates the human process of emotional constraint through the paradigms of surrealist aesthetics, and imbues the painting with such delicate emotional frequency, that calls us to embrace its inevitable beauty as such.

    Saputra uses regular everyday materials including cotton, human hair, plastic wrap, wood, which he then repositions in a manner contrary to convention, almost in the same vein as the French-American artist Marcel Duchamp would through transforming readymade objects into works of art. Menahan 2 is the result of the three-step process where Saputra carefully assembles foreign objects in actual three dimensions in his studio, photographs the new composition, then paints the object in enlarged scale onto canvas, a floating landscape of pure white. This system effectively serves to separate and remove the product from its origins, generate a new context, and incite fresh perspectives within the viewer to answer the paradigm of meaning in the work freely and independently. As such, his allure lies in composing artworks almost devoid of any artistic pretension. His paintings, an extension of the still-life genre, stay true to the thematic emphasis on the issue of perception and ways of seeing. He digs deep into the relationship between the extraordinary and the commonplace, and more specifically, how the power of perception can seize the imagination and alter one's impression of the ordinary. The ambiguity of his works is often heightened by a shift in scale, transforming the mundane into the monumental often with a sense of wonderment and absurdity, that is matched with his hallmark technical rigour and captivating realist techniques.

    Saputra’s significance for the Indonesian contemporary art scene is best described by Rikky Effendy as this: "In the map of contemporary art development in Indonesia, his works have contributed a different shade of colour, especially in the post-Reformasi era, when most artwork is tightly connected to the social and political discourse. The artworks depict a symptom of tradition, caught between the collective value of a society - which has lost its belief in such value - and the individual belief in fighting for such values. By poeticizing the everyday, he reflects a constantly shifting world.”


Menahan 2

signed with the artist's initials and dated 'HWS 2007' lower right; further signed, titled and dated ‘Handiwirman Saputra “Menahan 2” 2007’ on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
165 x 165 cm. (64 7/8 x 64 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2007.

HK$1,400,000 - 2,000,000 

Contact Specialist
Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 24 November 2019