b. Indonesia, 1912 - d. 1987
LEGONG DANCE, undated
Signed 'Koempoel' (lower left)
Oil on canvas
80cm x 150cm
Private Collection, Indonesia.
ESTIMATE RM 5,000 - 8,000
PRICE REALISED RM 5,600
One of the many classical dances hailing from the Island of Gods, Legong is a sophisticated form of art that is defined by the intricacy of finger movements, complex footwork and expressive gestures as well as facial expressions that pay particular attention to the motions of the eyes. Classical Legong enacts several traditional stories. The most common is the tale of the King of Lasem from the Malat, a collection of heroic romances. He is at war with another king, the father (or brother) of Princess Ranjasari. Lasem wants to marry the girl, but she detests him and tries to flee. Becoming lost in the forest, she is captured by Lasem, who imprisons her and goes out for a final assault against her family. He is attacked by a monstrous raven, which foretells his death. The dramatics are enacted in elaborate and stylized pantomime. The two actresses are accompanied by a third dancer called a tjondong / condong or attendant. She sets the scene, presents the dancers with their fans and later plays the part of the raven.
Here, Koempoel Soejatno captures a pair of female dancers dressed in traditional Balinese attire adorned with a headdress poised in a still from the Legong choreography. Elegant and graceful, their stretched arms holding a fan in one hand. The mythical yet sensuous dance has been highly developed since its origination in the 19th century as royal entertainment and now maintains its cultural form as a ceremonial performance.
Koempoel Soejatno was the son of Suroamidjojo and R.R Samilah, whose paternal lineage was traced to the Javanese patriot R.A. Prawirodirdjo. He attended the Hollandsch Inlandsche School in Surabaya where the headmaster Van Staal discovered his flair as a painter. Koempoel had the privilege of being introduced to the Dutch painter Gerard Pieter Adolfs through Van Staal. The encounter fostered a friendship between Koempoel and Adolfs who had taught Koempoel the technical factors of painting. Koempoel attended the Burgelijk Ambacht School to study architecture. In 1932, Koempoel moved to Malang, East Java and met another Dutch painter Willem van der Does who accepted Koempoel as an apprentice. Koempoel’s first solo exhibition was held in 1935. His subject matters vary from ox-carts, paddy rice landscapes, fish, bird and flower markets, food stalls to cockfights and traditional processions.
Koempoel Sujatno the Maestro: Tracing the Old Historical City of Soerabaia 1912-1987 , G & G Art Foundation, 2003.