Tag Archives: Young Artists Style

The Legacy of Arie Smit 1916-2016

20160827_191628The Death of Dutch Colorist Arie Smit 23 March 2016 is an Enormous Loss to The Canon of Southeast Asian Art.

 

During an August seminar at Ubud’s Neka Art Museum, a gathering of over 100 members of the Balinese art community paid homage to the legacy of the Dutch post-modern colourist Arie Smit (1916-2016). The iconic painter, who left a distinguished mark in the history of art in the region, passed away 23 March, only days short of his 100th birthday.

Renowned for his vibrant landscape paintings and scenes of Balinese village life Smit is a much-loved artist; his work forms part of collections in Indonesia, and throughout the world. Characterised by rapid movements with dense mosaics of color, allowing only scenic images to emerge in abstract forms, Smit’s compositions resemble an impressionist-pointillist style, and have been dubbed “Poems of Color.”

painting-by-arie-smit-image-richard-horstman                                        “Rhythms of Life” 1990

Drafted into the Netherlands army, sent abroad and stationed with the topographical service in Batavia, now Jakarta, Smit first set foot in the Dutch East Indies in 1938. Previously he studied art at the Academy of Arts in Amsterdam. In 1942 with the out break of World War II he was imprisoned by the invading Japanese army, later being shipped to Singapore, Thailand, and then Burma to undertake forced labour.

In 1950 Smit returned when the Dutch acknowledged Indonesia’s sovereignty after the revolution of Independence (1945-1949), becoming an Indonesian citizen. He settled in Ubud in 1956. Enchanted by the tropical light and landscape he roamed throughout Bali, reputedly moving house 36 times. Smit became the most important stimulator of painting on Bali, post Second World War.

20160827_192255                              “Full Moon Ceremony” 1994

“The Balinese trust more in their feelings than which meets the eye,” said seminar speaker Suteja Neka, founder of the Neka Art museum, long time friend, and Smit’s art dealer. “Smit’s unique skill was in capturing the potent invisible elements of Bali in his dazzling colourful verve.”

“Smit had a different way of seeing Bali’s landscape compared with the other Western artists of the 1930’s-1950’s era,” said art observer, Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) lecturer, curator and artist Dr. Wayan Kun Adnyana. “Bringing a western perspective, similar to fauvism, through his personal interpretation colour became the language and entity to explore and communicate Bali’s tropical nature.”

20160827_192221                               “Galungan Holiday” 1996

“In 1960 Smit began sharing art materials with, and teaching young boys in the village of Penestanan, near Ubud. This was the beginning of the “Young Artists Style”. At its height there was more than 300 practitioners,” said international artist and ISI lecturer Wayan Karja, who was born in Penestanan in 1965. “He helped transform the village, and prosper economically; poor farmers turned into painters. Not only was he an art teacher, Smit was a father figure to the village as well.”

The “Young Artists Style” was fresh and exciting; 60’s Balinese psychedelic pop art that emphasized color, the denseness of pure decoration, with a strong graphic sense. Smit did not attempt to influence the style of boys work, only the subject matter of village life. At his home studio he was careful to keep his paintings out of sight so they were never copied.

During the tourism boom of the 1970’s the genre became enormously popular.

20160827_192357                                                “Orchids” 1991

Smit’s work comes in a wide range of formats, from small postcard sizes to works of 1.5 meters or larger. After the 2008-2010 Indonesian contemporary art boom that witnessed over inflated prices for up and coming artists, collectors shifted their focus to Indonesian modern art. Paintings by the old masters became popular, some of which were considered as undervalued.

In 2011 the market realized a record price for the most expensive work sold at auction by Smit at the March Larasati Singapore sale. “Balinese Village and Farmlands” sold for close to 5 times its estimated price at a high of US $ 124,000. At Christie’s Hong Kong Asian 20th Century Art Sale May 2015 Smit’s “Pura” sold for just over US $ 207,000.

20160827_192435                                 “A Tropical Garden by the Sea” 1999

Nowadays many of Smit’s works sell for modest prices within their estimates and under US $4,000. The Smit connoisseurs however, are very specific about their choices with some willing to compete bidding the prices up, determined to secure their desired trophy works.

During Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn Sales 2016 in the Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art Day Sale 3 October thirteen paintings by Smit, ranging through the decades from the 1970’s – 1990’s, go under the hammer. They are sure to attract much attention from regional and international art collectors.

20160827_192122                                              “Low Tide” 1988

Believing that a painter’s style was, in short, his personality, Smit’s oeuvre reinforced his claim, reflecting traceable changes and developments over time. His aesthetics created a greater position for Bali within the context of Indonesian art.

Arie Smit spent his final days lying peacefully in bed at home in Ubud, despite his failing eyesight his mind remained clear. Famed for his “broken colors” style, his passing is a monumental loss to the canon of Southeast Asian art.

20160827_192147           “A Split Gate. Three Women and a Dog, And Two Heron Birds” 1999

The paintings pictured above are just a small part of the Arie Smit collection at the Neka Art Museum on Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Ubud.

 

Larasati Traditional, Modern & Contemporary Art Auction: Bali 21 August

made-sutama-the-dream-image-richard-horstman                                “The Dream” 2015 –  Made Sutama (b. 1977 Keliki)

Eighty works of fine art went under the hammer before an enthusiastic floor of bidders at Ubud’s ARMA museum 21 August Larasati Traditional, Modern & Contemporary Art auction. The attractive array of paintings in Balinese traditional styles and Indonesian modern and contemporary genres offered good buying opportunities in prices ranges suitable for new collectors and connoisseurs alike.

From the beginning of 2016 real time bidding has been available through the Larasati website, opening the auction to a global audience. The auction featured spirited bidding both on the floor and via telephone, and purchases online. Most of the works sold within their estimate prices while for new collectors purchases were available starting from Rp. 3.5 million.

20160820_181740                                      “Aksi Badut and Topeng” – Ketut Sadia (b. 1966 Batuan)

Ida Bagus Putu Sena (b. 1966 Tebesaya, Ubud) is a remarkable talent, his characteristic style while being extraordinarily detailed, features dark and moody compositions. Lot #523 “Shadow Puppet Show” 2009, estimated price between Rp. 75 – 90 million, was hammered down for Rp. 95 million. (all works incur a 22% buyers premium on top of the auctioneers selling price). Lot #530 “Petani’ 2003 by Ketut Kasta (b. Peliatan 1945), a beautiful figurative work in muted pinkish hues, serene in its simplicity was estimated between Rp. 25 – 30 million and sold for Rp. 40 million.

Iconic Dutch painter Arie Smit (1916-2016) died in March at home in Ubud, only days short of reaching the golden age of one hundred years old. Responsible for the development of the “Young Artists” style of Balinese traditional art in the early 1960’s, since his passing prices for his some works at Hong Kong auctions have noticeably increased.

putu-deaw-bedil-suasana-pasar-image-richard-horstman                                    “Suasana Pasar” –  Dewa Putu Bedil (1921-1999)

Of the three lots available, Lot #546 “A Girl Leaving the Temple” estimated between Rp. 65 – 75 million, sold for Rp 65 million, Lot #547 “The Forest“ estimated between Rp. 95 -120 million sold for Rp. 85 million, while #548 “Boy” 1988 estimated price between Rp. 270 – 320 million, however failed to sell.

Works of painstaking miniature detail characterize the Keliki School of Balinese traditional art. Three excellent paintings were available by up and coming artists who represent the future of this genre. Lot #519 “The Dream” 2015 by Made Sutama (b. 1977 Keliki) is a colorful fantastic composition, estimated price between Rp. 10 – 12 million sold for Rp. 9.5 million. Lot # 520 “The Death of Kumbakarna” 2014 by Putu Kusama (b.1986 Keliki) with an estimated of Rp. 12 – 15 million sold for Rp. 17 million via the internet, and Lot # 550 “Festivity at Temple” by Made Ocen (b. 1974 Keliki) undervalued with an estimate price between Rp. 10 – 12 million and sold for Rp. 9 million. Each of these works offered excellent buying for the seasoned collectors along with those with mid range budgets for good long-term investments.

a-a-gede-anom-sukawati-mengarak-jero-gede-image-by-richard-horstman            “Mengarak Jero Gede” 2003  –  A.A. Gede Anom Sukawati (b. Ubud 1966)

A rare old work by the renowned Batuan painter Wayan Bendi Lot # 555 “Tourists in the 1950’s” estimated price between Rp.15 – 20 million sold for Rp. 14 million. Lot # 505 “Aksi Badut and Topeng” by another outstanding Batuan painter Ketut Sadia with an estimated price between Rp. 16 -20 million sold for Rp. 16 million offering good value buying for this innovative composition. Considered an “outsider artist” Putu Dewa Mokoh (Pengosekan 1936-2010) is a painter of unusual, often quirky and humorous compositions. Lot # 502 “Berenang di Laut” estimated price between Rp. 18 – 22 million sold for Rp.16 million, while Lot #558 “Hunting in the Forest” estimated price between Rp. 28 – 35 was hammered down for Rp. 30 million.

ketut-kasta-petani-2003-image-richard-horstman                                       “Petani’ 2003 –  Ketut Kasta (b. Peliatan 1945)

The Pitamaha artist’s collective played a decisive role in the development of Balinese modern traditional art from 1936-1945 and two works by deceased masters of the collective were available. Lot# 567 by Gusti Ketut Kobot (1917-1999) “Garuda Whisnu” was undervalued for its size of 105 x 75 cm, estimated price between Rp. 90 – 110 million and selling for Rp.85 million. While Lot #568 by Ida Bagus Made Togog (Batuan 1913 – 1989) “Story of Dukuh Siladri” a shimmering work of exceptional quality and condition, estimated price between Rp. 270 – 350 million, sold for Rp. 350 million.

Lot # 569 “Suasana Pasar” Dewa Putu Bedil (1921-1999) is a extraordinary work of balance and beauty, being undervalued at the estimate between Rp. 75 – 90 million, it sold for Rp. 95 million. Of the contemporary works available sought names such as Jumaldi Afli, Ugo Untoro and Dede Eri Supria attracted only marginal attention, yet offered good buying opportunities for new collectors wishing to purchase works by big name artists.

arie-smit-a-girl-leaving-the-temple-photo-by-richard-horstman                               “A Girl Leaving the Temple” – Arie Smit (1916-2016)

The most prized work of the afternoon was the final item, was Lot # 580 “Mengarak Jero Gede” 2003 by A.A. Gede Anom Sukawati (b. Ubud 1966) arguably Bali’s finest living traditional painter. His 75 x 135 cm acrylic on canvas composition, a stunning dance scene of detail and vibrancy, estimated price between Rp. 160 – 190 million, realized determined bidding selling for a world record price for the artist at Rp. 345 million, inclusive of the 22% buyer’s premium.

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

20160820_182538             “Story of Dukuh Siladri” – Ida Bagus Made Togog (Batuan 1913 – 1989)

20160820_181951                   “Berenang di Laut” – Dewa Putu Mokoh ((Pengosekan 1936-2010)