I Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih - Modern & Contemporary Art Day Sale Hong Kong Saturday, June 1, 2024 | Phillips
  • Born in Indonesia in 1966, I Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih, who was affectionately known as Murni, was a mostly self-taught artist who made her mark on contemporary Indonesian art with her compelling body of works that are distinctively unique. Despite her career being tragically truncated by illness, leading to her untimely death in 2006, Murni's bold approach to tackle challenging themes such as sexual pleasure and trauma has left a lasting legacy, continuing to inspire and pave the way for young female Balinese artists, encouraging them to also explore careers in the visual arts. 


    In 2023, the Tate Modern in the United Kingdom acquired Murni’s 1998 work Making Pleasure, with this distinction making the late artist the first Balinese to be featured in their permanent collection. Her works are also housed in the collections of institutions such as the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, USA; the National Gallery of Australia; the National Gallery of Singapore; and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara.


    Born in Bali, Murni's life was a tapestry of diverse experiences across Indonesia, moving from South Sulawesi with her family as a participant in the Dutch-initiated Transmigration Program, to becoming a domestic worker in Jakarta during her early years, before finally settling in Ubud. It was here that Murni immersed herself in the traditionally male-dominated art of Pengosekan style of painting, characterised  by stark outlines and monochrome backgrounds. Her personal journey was tragically marked by sexual trauma, physical abuse, marriage, divorce, infertility, and illness, all of which profoundly influenced her art, as she willingly tackled these challenging themes by blending vivid imagery with a sense of humour and whimsy to question established social and sexual conventions. 


    I Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih


    By juxtaposing disfigured amalgams of human and animal forms, limbs, and everyday objects in bright, appealing colours and with clear, simple lines, Murni crafts a whimsical yet surreal visual universe in her paintings. Within it, societal norms, taboos, and traditional notions of beauty are playfully upended, losing their grip on the viewer's mind, inviting them into a fantasy where the rigid structures of conventional beauty and behaviour are dismantled with levity rather than aggression. Her works, a testament to her bravery and unyielding pursuit of truth, serve not merely as pieces to be observed but as gateways to broader conversations on humanity, freedom, and identity.


    I Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih, Making Pleasure, 1998


    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 2002

    • Exhibited

      Bangkok, Numthong Gallery, My Journey 2001, 2 - 30 March 2002
      Bangkok, Numthong Gallery, The Eye, 11 June - 30 July 2016
      Bangkok, Numthong Art Space, Selected works by Numthong, 27 February - 23 March 2024



Untitled (from My Journey 2001 series)

inscribing 'Oleh2 dari Monde' on the overlap
acrylic on canvas
25 x 25 cm. (9 7/8 x 9 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2001.

Full Cataloguing

HK$30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for HK$38,100

Contact Specialist

Anastasia Salnikoff
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2014

Modern & Contemporary Art Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 1 June 2024