Mixed results achieved at sale of Indonesian modern artworks
33 Auction continues to demonstrate its particular ability to sell the works of the Indonesian realist, Basoeki Abdullah (1915-1993) with its 2 September 2018 sale of ‘Tegar..Kokoh Bagai Batu Karang’ achieving the fourth highest price for the artist at auction, at a final price of USD287,500/ IDR4.27 billion (inclusive of premium). All top four priced pieces of the artist sold at auction have been achieved by 33 Auction.
Hammered at IDR3.5 billion, the near mural-size work was fresh to the market and depicts a man atop a robust white horse, riding through the crashing blue waves. Finely targeted marketing of the artwork to associates and friends of the sitter for the painting, said to be an Indonesian businessman, helped 33 Auction achieve a noteworthy sale of the piece.
The rest of the sale did not go as smoothly, with only 45 out of 88 lots, or 51% of the sale, sold. The much touted Abdul Aziz collection of seven lots, headlined by ‘Magnetic Attraction’, the iconic lovers diptych coming from the estate of the artist, registered an underwhelming USD156,200/ IDR2.31 billion. This figure is in pale contrast to the record USD405,000 sale of the artist’s other lovers diptych painting in 2012, and two others sold in 2013 for USD336,000 and USD278,000 respectively.
This time, 33 Auction bet on a highly interesting strategy of beginning the sale with five ‘Mooi Indie’ style works of Sudjono Abdullah. However, this backfired with all five pieces unsold. It seems the market for ‘Mooi Indie’ romanticised and idyllic landscapes suffered another blow when two works by Wakidi — a significant early ‘Mooi Indie’ artist — were passed on as well later in the sale.
There has been more more ripples lately in the private sale market for Indonesian artists associated with various post-war abstraction movements, but all works of associated artists Umi Dachlan, A.D. Pirous and Popo Iskandar passed this time. The cats, leopards and roosters — hitherto commercial subjects of Popo Iskandar — found no takers this time, and could very well indicate an approaching shift in the market's maturity and taste that favours the artist's earlier, more abstract compositions.