Nyoman Masriadi studied art at the Indonesian Art Institute Yogykarta but he left before his final assignment due to a conflict with his teachers, according to The Jakarta Post. Returning to Bali in 1997, Masriadi worked for a year as a painter of souvenir portraits of mythological Balinese figures, and the experience reportedly led to the development of his first superhero characters. The visual imagery and narratives in his paintings are derived from keen and intelligent observations of social life and behavioural traits. His visual vocabulary is striking, continuously refreshing and contemporaneously relevant.
Singaporean art dealer Jusdeep Shandu observes that Masriadi’s works were “a departure from anything [he] had ever seen”. Sporting a bold figurative style fusing popular culture and traditional motifs, Masriadi’s works address themes of political and social injustice with biting satirical wit, offering shrewd portraits of the human condition.(www.artradarjournal.com)
In Bali, where he was born, there were two traditions of painting – a sacred one and one of words for a Western audience – but his relationship to these is indirect. Masriadi received his training in art at the Institute Seni Indonesia (ISI) Yogyakarta. From the time he was an art student, he had already been recognized by peers as one of the very first contemporary Balinese artists who eased himself away from an encompassing concern with Balinese life, culture and traditions in his works. He is reputed to have stood in front of the canvas on a cardboard box to restrict himself from any distractions and fidgety behavior; to learn the skill of painting.
Nyoman Masriadi’s story reads unlike any other within the history of Indonesian art. It charts the phenomenal rise of a talented painter, who in 2008, at the age of 36, achieved the prestige of being the first Southeast Asian artist whose works topped US$1 million at auction. It was a feat that propelled him into the international art spotlight.
During this exhibition, the Paul Kasmin Gallery of New York expressed interest in working with Shandu to bring Masriadi to the US. The artist’s latest exhibition “Nyoman Masriadi”, opened on April 28 in New York. It features five new paintings, never-before-exhibited works dating between from 2012 and 2014 and a series of five 91.4 x 129.5 x 76.2 cm bronze sculptures titled Piglet.
In 1997, he returned to Bali with his wife to be, and for a year worked feverously churning out souvenir paintings of Balinese mythological figures. This led to the development of his first superhero characters. With his new family he returned to Yogyakarta as Indonesia was undergoing a turbulent transition.
Following the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and the fall of the New Order in 1998; the Indonesian art scene shifted, almost overnight, from conservative expressionist paintings with traditional themes to inspiring socially engaged art. Masriadi became enormously productive. His works addressed themes of social injustice, corruption and military abuse, flavored by satirical wit and a bold figurative style.
In 2006, a Masriadi painting sold for $10,000. However, it wasn’t until 2008 when Sudah Biasa di Telanjangi ( Used to Being Stripped )—depicting a black-skinned, muscle-bound man wearing pink bikini briefs around his ankles, covering himself with hands bound by rope—sold at auction for $540,000 at Christie’s Hong Kong.
Prior to this, interest in Indonesian art at regional auctions had been confined to old masters, such as Hendra Gunawan and Affandi. “I don’t understand what all the fuss is about,” the art-school dropout said about his rising popularity. Masriadi’s stratospheric ascent had only begun. At an auction in 2008 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, Sorry Hero, Saya Lupa ( Sorry Hero, I Forgot ) set another record, at $619,000. Only two days later “The Man from Bantul” ( Final Round ) sold for US$1,000,725. “Low estimates were a major factor in Masriadi’s initial market acceleration, since they paled in comparison with many other Asian artists’ prices at the time,” Shandu said. (www.artplus.com)
“The gallery has primarily focused on placing Masriadi in American and European collections. The more audiences in the west get to see the paintings in person, the more deeply they engage,” Paul Kasmin Gallery (New York) senior director Nicholas Olney said. “It’s very rare for him to have a gallery show and sales have been excellent. Masriadi’s position as a truly internationally artist has been cemented.” (artplus-Richard Horstman)
He continues. “There is a growing awareness in the US in Indonesia as a destination and as a fertile art community. I’m looking forward to spending more time in Yogyakarta and Bandung to see what the younger generations of artists are working on.”
Common in fact, mostly collector and gallery from USA and Europe seeking artwork in Indonesia, maybe price, visual uniqueness, theme in social and political issue in emerging market country its more so appealing so complicated.