Maturity in 50s; a Powerful Abstract of Hanafi



At its very core abstract art serves to allow that which is unintended or unexpected by the practitioner to become manifest. In its absence of design elements, construct forms or recognizable images, it is the creations ‘designlessness’ that becomes the all apparent visual feature.

In celebration of his 50th year Indonesian contemporary artist Hanafi presents a powerful body of work for display at the Komaneka Fine Art Gallery in Ubud. Originally premiering in April at the National Gallery in Jakarta, the exhibition is currently showing from the 24th July until the 24th August 2010.

Titled, ‘Saat usia lima puluh’ ( The Age of 50 ), the artist presents 30 canvases and 1 installation for our contemplation. The paintings are explorations into the genre of abstraction. Born in Purworejo (Central Java) 5th July 1960, Hanafi was educated at School of Fine Arts Indonesia (SSRI) Yogyakarta, 1976 – 1979 and he currently works and resides in Bandung, West Java.

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and science.” Albert Einstein words are a means for us to understand that the unknown is indeed a wonderful experience. The element of mysteriousness is alive and well within the works of this exhibition. Hanafi’s acute strength is in his ability to strike a poetic balance within these abstract compositions.

The paintings minimal fundamentals are color, texture and form. The artist organizes the spaces within the confines of the canvas and explores the possibilities. Hanafi’s non descript ‘lines and shapes’ offer no tangible conclusions of his intentions, direction or structure. We may appreciate their beauty simply because the artist ‘grants them permission’ to exist.

Hanafi’s subdued earthy colors (charcoal black, dirty off white beiges, greens and grays) used to express his feelings at no time overpower the architecture of the forms that are present. The colors he utilizes emphasize and in fact serve as a potent feature of his expressions. They evoke emotions and feelings that at first may seem out of place yet confirm the very notions of what modern art strives to achieve; to allow the artist and the observer the opportunity to appreciate and experience new possibilities.

The acrylic medium is applied with rollers which are manipulated to build up, reduce or smear the paint on application. The contrasting textures achieved add interesting and subtle optical stimulus. Light reflects from the ‘valleys and peaks’ within the grainy surface. Ripples appear like waves in motion flowing across the open expanse of the canvas. The outer edges of the roller also produces thicker lines or ‘tracks’ that meander upon the works surface. At times he scores or combs the paint with blunt instruments in even or circular actions producing non descript lines that reveal the colored tones beneath the surface. The varying sized canvases ranging in dimensions from 96 x 82 cm up to 220 x 270 cm add to the visual drama of the abstractions.

What is also interesting about these works is the eclectic titles Hanafi gives to his creations. ‘Burung Tua’ (Old Bird), ‘Jendela Kamar Ayah’ (Window in my Father’s Room), ‘Aku Mau Tinggal Disini’ ( I Want to Live Here). These titles when paired with the paintings appear equally as abstract as the images they are complementing.

There is a sophisticated ‘edge’ or essence that is accomplished in these spontaneous creations. Hanafi understands his process reflects an attitude of limitlessness and the need to take risks to unable him to explore true freedom of expression. He is not aiming to define or explain, he is ‘pluming the depths’ of his psyche. Indeed there is a spiritual quality at play within the manifestation of these compositions that invites the artist to go beyond that which he has identified and made rational to access the anonymous and unfamiliar.

Hanafi’s installation ‘Memandang Terbalik’ (Hanging Upside Down) offers a credible contrast to his painted abstractions. The work features 15 black fiber glass figures (83 x 39 x 15 cm) hanging upside down, with their hands on their heads, in a somewhat relaxed pose, connected to a circular pipe fixed to the walls and the ceiling. This thought provoking work appears to be reflecting on mankind’s dilemma, through his own complacency he has surrendered to his role within the automated and industrialized modern era despite its obvious dangers and short comings.

The unexplained elements of Hanafi’s creations immediately capture our attention and imagination. Revealed are fleeting glimpses at a greater source of universal consciousness that brings ‘new light’ or meaning to the mysterious qualities of his paintings. Generally man tends to fear that which he does not understand. When we are able to appreciate and accept that which is initially confronting, we may intuitively feel a sense of safety and then we are allowed a greater control over elements we incorrectly perceive as being outside of our dominion.

There is an obvious intelligence and unique sensitivity in Hanafi’s artistic endeavors. His works aids to ‘raise the veil’ between the worlds of the physical and the esoteric.

Title : Blue Abstract
Type : oil on canvass
Dimension : 115 X 115 cm
Year : 2009
Condition : built-in framed in minimalist style, very good and well preserved, ready to hang
Signature : signed on the bottom right corner; Hanafi, '09

The above painting was acquired from a reputable official art auction house. There was NO provenance or COA provided. However, to the best of seller’s knowledge, we guarantee that the aforementioned piece is 100 % original and genuinely produced by the said painter as stated.