Fish Vendors by The Beach, by Hendra Gunawan (1918 – 1983)

Mar 23, 2022. 15:19 UTC
Fish Vendors by The Beach, by Hendra Gunawan (1918 – 1983)


Acquired from

For sale

Artist : Hendra Gunawan (1918 – 1983) === Medium : Oil on canvas === Signature : Hendra and KW 74 at lower right === Height : +/- 154 cm === Width : +/- 104 cm === Period/Date : 1974, acquired in 1974 === Country : Indonesia === Condition : Good === Re-Examined Date : 24th September 2017 === Authenticity # : P-1036/28/06/2001 === ================================== 1. RESEARCH & ESSAY ===== Born to Raden Prawiranegara and Raden Odah Tejaningsih on June 11th 1918 in Bandung – West Java, Dutch East Indies, Hendra Gunawan was famously recognized for his caricaturist, colorful style of painting that draws on an Expressionist background. In 1935, together with his close friends, Sudarso (1914 — 2006) and Barli Sasmitawinata (1921 — ), Hendra joined with the maestros recognized as his teachers to establish a community of painters named “Kelompok Lima” (Group Five) in Bandung. The name of “Kelompok Lima” was famously recognized for its five members passionately traveling around Indonesia to paint together. The members of five painters were Affandi, Barli, Hendra Gunawan, Sudarso, and Wahdi. In 1938 Hendra Gunawan began to learn himself sculpture. Thus, during his youth, he studied and explored a lot of facets of Indonesian painters at the time such as the expressionist Affandi (1907 - 1990) and the landscape—panoramic painter Wahidi Sunanta. ===== In 1938 Hendra Gunawan (1918-1983) actively guided and taught the youths of Indonesia who were passionate in learning the arts of painting and sculpting, and he also organized art and cultural exhibitions at Pusat Tenaga Rakyat (PUTERA). Pusat Tenaga Rakyat (PUTERA) itself was under the leadership of three Indonesian national figures and heroes known as Tiga Serangkai: Soekarno, Moh. Hatta, and K.H. Mas Mansyur. The artist was also a lecturer at the Indonesian Fine Art Academy (ASRI) in Yogjakarta in 1957. At the same time, Hendra Gunawan involved in the establishment of LEKRA (Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat) or People’s Institution of Culture. LEKRA was immensely associated to the ideology of PKI (Partai Komunis Indonesia) or Indonesian Communist Party. After only eight years of his activity in LEKRA, the bloody massacre of 10th September 1965 movement imploded upon his country – Indonesia inflicting he was imprisoned in 1965 after the banned PKI party was accused to be a party on coup attempt against Soekarno’s government. ===== Hendra Gunawan was imprisoned in jail, located in Kebon Waru – Bandung – West Java and the artist was incarcerated from 1965–1978. During passing his life in the prison, he continued to paint and create his works with rough canvas and subjects reflecting the lower-class society’s struggle, patience for a harmonized family, and other social life’s activities. His oeuvres executed in behind the prison were mostly signed with his typical name’s signature, and date of creation with a mark “KW” as an acronym of Kebun Waru, the name of the prison house when the artist passed his life at that time. ===== Hendra frequently immortalizes the cultural life of the commoners, especially the lower-class fishermen on the panoramic beach of Sunda Island of West Java, where the artist retrieved them behind his bars. Painted in 1974, the present artwork entitled to “Fish Vendors by the Beach”, the present artwork is brightly painted in bold and free brushstrokes applying the earthy vibrant colors, predominantly in blue, beige, green, black on the figures as the focal point with tranquil blue and sea green in the background. Depicting with aesthetic lower-class figures and fish subject in dynamic mobility as his aspiration, the artist expertly visualizes the vibrancy of life of two women and a child carrying and selling the colorful giant, medium and small fish on the beach. As a post-expressionist, Hendra depicts two women and a child figure in undulating body painted in bright tropical colors resembling to a visual character of traditional carving and Sundanese puppetry “Wayang Golek." The artist freely painted the figures wearing the patterned Javanese blouse with the aesthetic flower motifs of Batik fabric, that all these styles are characterized to Hendra’s painting trademarks in 1970 onwards when the artist was imprisoned in Kebun Waru prison. The use of vibrant colors on the present work obviously was influenced by Nuraini’s painting, Hendra’s second wife when both of them were imprisoned together in Kebun Waru. Nuraini more selected bright tropical colors such as blue, red, yellow and green on her paintings. She was released from the prison in January 1972, her eight months’ pregnant, while Hendra was still as a jailbird and he kept on painting. ===== Hendra Gunawan energetically elevated the themes of poor and humble folk on his works as the symbol of his patriotic sentiment to raise the paramount standard of unpretentious society in his countryside, Bandung. Through a theme of the present painting, the artist’s passion expresses the bountiful fish harvest in his country’s tropical ocean that was out of tune with the living standards of its coastal indigenous people as the direct retail sellers. As an oceanic archipelago, Indonesian ancestors were recognized as the remarkable maritime sailors and they have been called in a well-known historical epithet “Nenek moyangku seorang pelaut” or “My ancestor is a sailor." The ocean contains the precious and abundant resources, especially fish, for their lives and future generations. In a socialist political ideology concept, it is an inequity to fathom between the value of copious ocean’s resources and poverty of lower-class indigenes, while the affluent sovereigns leap with joy on self-indulgent delight. Hendra expressed the injustice social situation at that time by elevating the paupers’ struggle theme on the present painting. ===== In a social-cultural context, the present painting narrates the fishermen’s wife and child collecting and selling the fish from their devotedly husbands’ work when they are at homecoming from sailing along the far ocean. By the persistent spirit, the fishermen should live on boats and use traditional methods such as a net or hook and line in the sea for days. They must struggle under the gigantic ocean waves and wind in the midst of ocean to get a little sustenance for their family. Their dutiful wife and children cheerfully greet their homecoming with caught fish for their lives. Usually, the wives collect and sell the fresh fish directly on the beach, local markets or vend them to door to door in the nearby villages. As an island nation, for indigenous community in his country, the artist appreciates that fish mean more than food consumption for the natives, but it is the fateful indigenous value manifested in its symbolic relation to Javanese ritual celebration “selamatan” or break bread as a sincere hope of blessing and salvation life. ===== Hendra Gunawan’s paintings are frequently depicted with coastal indigenous people living in close relationship with their environments, ocean and beach. Fish vendors on the beach subject depicted with two women, and a child figures on the current painting is a unique and remarkable example of Hendra Gunawan’s oeuvre, bearing all the hallmarks of the artist’s characteristic style. Hendra Gunawan’s artworks with fish vendors on the beach subject in the market keep on being very strong and on growth with stellar results in the art markets such as Christie’s Hong Kong and Sotheby’s Hong Kong. Hendra’s oeuvres are painted in different style and composition depending on the artist’s passion and favor when painting what he noticeably observed and shrewdly expressed. Compare with the similar theme and style of Hendra’s work but without depicting a child figure, entitled ‘Women with Fish’ and painted in 1975 (149 x 84 cm), sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, JW Marriott Hotel, 25th April 2004, lot. 585, for HKD 1183,750 or equivalent to USD128,200 at hammer price, initially estimated between HKD 400,000 – HKD 600,000 or equivalent to USD51,280 – USD76,920 (see fig. 1). Another is entitled to “Fish Market” painted in 1978, 131 x 196 cm in size, sold at Sotheby’s Singapore, The Royal Pavilion Ballroom, 16th September 2007, lot. 168, for SGD 380,000 or equivalent to USD251,294 at hammer price, initially estimated between SGD 100,000 - SGD 150,000 or equivalent to USD 66,130 - USD 99,195 (see fig. 2).



PROVENANCE OF ARTWORK: Lo Wing Tjong (1851 – 1934) to Liem Guan Kwee (22th September 1901 – 25th March 1985) to Liem Syuhada (12th June 1927 – 22nd April 2000) to Current Owners (Descendants) ====== The present painting was acquired directly from the artist on June 1974 in Bandung by Liem Guan Kwee (22th September 1901 – 25th March 1987), a son of Lo Wing Tjong (1851 – 1934), a Diplomat and Chinese community leader in Batavia under Guangxu reign (1875 – 1908). The acquisition of the present happened when the artist was imprisoned in Kebun Waru (KW), Bandung, West Java. As Liem Guan Kwee was an art and antique dealer, he travelled around the nation and visited the renowned artists, like Hendra Gunawan, to acquire the valuable artworks for his business and collection at that time. ====== In 2001, the present artwork was researched and authenticated by team of National Archaeology, Art and Culture Foundation in person deriving from Southeast Asia artworks, paintings and Chinese ceramics experts. The foundation itself was led by Professor Abu Ridho, an Asian art scholar and consultant, former curator of National Museum of Jakarta – Indonesia, and author of Chinese art books. The physical examination of this artwork and its authenticity is certified on an official letter of statement and agreement that was signed by professor and legalized by public notary ‘Royani, SH’, dated 8th April 2002. In 2004, the government of Republic of Indonesia recorded this legacy especially regarding with its authenticity, historical artwork and the ownership of property or legal rights. This artwork was appreciated and archived officially as a national cultural heritage object by Culture and Museum Agency of Government of Indonesia, Jakarta, number 863/-1-853.3, dated 14th April 2004. ===== In 2017, this artwork that had been researched and signed by Prof. Abu Ridho on Certificate of Authenticity, the present work was also re-researched by one of great grandsons, Faisal Hasan, who was graduated from Master of Art (MA) Program of LASALLE College of the Arts – Singapore with subject of Asian Art Histories. The great grandson re-examined and re-analyzed this artwork by more elaborate manner. This re-examination includes its technical or stylistic analysis, documentary research and comparison with similar artist or periods. All of them are relied on archives, art libraries and reputable art and antique commercial institutions or auction houses enabling to strongly establish its eligible quality and authenticity. All documents and photos of its provenance and certificate of authenticity are included in separated page.

Answered within 2 months
May 27, 12:06 UTC
By George

Fair Market Value

$180,000 - $250,000 USD

Insurance Value

$430,000 USD
What does this mean?

Dear Faisal.

Thank you for contacting Mearto with your appraisal inquiry.

The presented object appears to be a painting made in oil paint on canvas with the measurements of 154 x 104 cm.
The painting depicts two women and a child holding watched fishes in their hands. This artwork has the title "Fish Vendors at the Beach" and is signed and dated in the right lower corner. This painting appears to be made by Hendra GUNAWAN (1918-1983) and comes from a private collection.
Comparable objects in size and motif by Hendra Gunawan were recently offered and sold on the international auction market. 

This piece is in good condition and there is no severe damage visible in the images provided.

A fair market estimation for an authentified artwork by Hendra GUNAWAN (1918-1983) would be between 180.000 to 250.000 USD.
This estimate is based on actual recent past recorded auction sales of comparable items. Retail "asking prices" can be higher and may vary.

An artwork of such high potential value requires further authentication research. This estimate is provided on the condition of authenticity.

With kind regards,


This is a conditional appraisal, which means that we have not verified the authenticity of this item. Click here to learn more about the authentication resources that Mearto offers.
Faisal hasan, ma May 27, 12:21 UTC

Dear George,

Thank you for your appraisal for this artwork. It was pleasure to know a great elaborate description from you.

George May 28, 09:21 UTC

Dear Faisal,

Thank you for your email and you are very welcome!

With kind regards,

This item is for sale

  • Exclusive access for professionals
  • Unlimited number of private messages
  • Buy directly from the seller
  • No subscription or transaction fees
  • Guaranteed return policy

Are you a dealer or private individual interested in purchasing this item? Apply for access to the Mearto Marketplace to communicate directly with the seller for this and thousands of similar items.

Other items from seller
Related items from other collectors