Affandi / Indonesia 1907–90 / Self portrait in Kusamba Beach 1983 / Oil on canvas / 130 x 149.5cm / Purchased 1994 with funds from the International Exhibitions Program. Celebrating the Queensland Art Gallery’s Centenary 1895–1995 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © QAGOMA

Self portrait in Kusamba Beach 1983

Not Currently on Display

From the early 1940s, self-portraits formed a major constituent of Affandi’s oeuvre. This work, Self portrait in Kusamba Beach, is a fine example of the artist’s technique, with a swirling, expressionist web of pure pigment applied to the canvas and hand-worked to convey not just a likeness but an intense evocation of the artist’s mood.

The head, surrounded by flickering paint, and the likenesses of dragons/demons, and a flaring, galloping, or rearing horse, suggests a mind torn by inner pain or torment. These symbols may well suggest the unrest felt by the artist towards his country’s political climate.

One of Indonesia’s most celebrated modern artists, Affandi (1907–90) eschewed the conventional figurative painting style that dominated the Sukarno era (1945–65) in favour of a more expressionist approach, squeezing colour directly from a tube and smearing it with his finger.

While he rejected traditional representation because it denied him spontaneity, he remained committed to depicting the everyday lives of ordinary Indonesians. Self-portraiture remained a constant in Affandi’s work from the 1940s onwards and his affinities with Rembrandt are widely noted.