Lot 036

b. The Netherlands, 1910 - d. 1963


Signed 'Sonnega BALI' (lower left)
Inscribed 'husserf' (lower left)
Pencil on paper
35cm x 26.5cm


Signed and dated 'Sonnega 30/6/50' (lower centre)
Inscribed 'husserf' (lower left)
Pencil on paper
35cm x 27cm

Private Collection, Indonesia.

Auke Sonnega: Artist of the Enchanting Tropics,
Didier Hamel, Hexart Publishing, 2011,
illustrated on page 150 and 151.

ESTIMATE  RM 8,000 - 12,000

This pair of drawings was created in 1950, eight years prior to holding a solo exhibition at the British Council in Kuala Lumpur where he displayed 45 artworks. Sitting at the Temple Gate and Father and Son at the Temple show elements of his excellent graphic knowledge, skillfully illustrating an important architecture seen around the ‘Island of Gods’ - the split gate of a temple also known as Candi Bentar. 

Auke Sonnega was a Dutch artist who spent 23 years in Indonesia, settling in Batavia (now Jakarta) in 1935 and worked as a graphic designer at an advertising agency called Preciosia. He traveled across Java and found his true calling to become an artist upon visiting Bali the same year he arrived. He developed a unique style of painting – an infusion of Art Deco and Folk art and later experimented with Cubism and Abstract art – applying vibrant colours and bold outlines on canvas to illustrate the charming people and delightful life on the island. Immersing himself in the enchantment of the ‘Tropical Paradise’, Sonnega created a tantalizing visual palate that celebrates life on the mystical island.

Trained at the Academy for Art and Craft in Amsterdam in 1926, Auke Sonnega worked at a carpet factory in Twente upon graduation (1930 – 1934). The eldest son of three siblings, he formed a strong bond with his sister Aafje Anna Sonnega who would later marry a military personnel. The newlyweds moved to Batavia in 1933 where Sonnega’s brother-in-law served as an army. This contributed to Auke Sonnega’s decision to migrate in order for him to be closer to his sister. In Java, he was known to dress dandily and rode a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He was friends with other European artists who settled in Java and Bali, most notably Theo Meier, Han Snel and Arie Smit. In 1958, he reluctantly departed Jakarta for the Netherlands due to political unrest. He spent the next five years of his life producing artworks and exhibiting, yearning to return to the tropics.

Auke Sonnega: Artist of the Enchanting Tropics, Didier Hamel, Hexart Publishing, 2011.