Lot 069

b. Indonesia, 1927 – d. 2000

CAT, 1997

Signed and dated ‘Popo 97’ (upper left)
Oil on canvas laid on board
30cm x 40cm

Private Collection, Indonesia.

ESTIMATE  RM 12,000 - 18,000

Popo Iskandar is well known for his paintings of cats which began in the early 1960s. The symbol of the cat is Popo’s leitmotif, a vehicle for his contemplative reflection on the mystery of nature. In creating various representations of cats he attempted to find the essence of it, to express the meaning of the cat from his perspective - not physically, but the impression of the cat, finding understanding in “the totality of its existence.” With his trademark gestures and thick application of paint, Popo manages to imbue a simple image with meaning and character, expressing not only the cat’s nature but its spirit too. This piece is one of his wilder depictions of the cat. It is riotous in colour, head tilted, eyes bright green. The feeling is one of mystery and mysticism as the cat manages to look inquisitive and calculative at the same time through its piercing eyes. The artist’s interpretation of a cat is that it “can appear wild and mean, besides being lazy, spoiled, magical and mysterious”.

Popo Iskandar’s interest in the arts grew when he undertook a painting course at Keimin Bunka Shidoso, Bandung under the guidance of Barli Sasmitawainata and Hendra Gunawan in 1943. His artistic career began as a poster painter for the Information Service of Indonesian Students Armed Force (TRIP) in 1945. He was then enrolled at the Bandung Institute of Technology, Department of Fine Arts and graduated in 1958. Aside from his role as a lecturer at the State Teachers Training College in Bandung, Popo was also a highly regarded scholar and art critic. His bold, graphic works usually feature stylised animal forms with vivid colours. In the 1960s, he created his signature collection of artworks on topic of cats that reflect on not only the physical attributes but the spiritual understanding of the animal. Popo received numerous accolades during his lifetime and was awarded life membership by the Jakarta Academy for shows held outside of Indonesia, namely in China, Japan, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States of America.