Neo Pitamaha – An Art Movement in the Making?

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The outsider event Cahyendra Putra and the Neo Pitamaha Invite You To: A Brutal Contrast of Concrete and Kamasan Painting which opened on Sunday 23 October will be recorded in the annals of Balinese art history. The exhibition, which in many ways is noteworthy, is underpinned by a long awaited and fresh approach to presenting art in Ubud, outside of the conventional gallery, art space and museum format.

Held at the location of former residence of the iconic Bali art influencer, Dutch painter Rudolf Bonnet (1895-1978), this collaborative project features street art by artists from Bali & Jakarta, along with paintings by selected emerging local talent from Batuan, Ubud, Tabanan and Denpasar. In this event, which is set within the gutted interior of a building, twenty young artists reveal their interpretation of the Pita Maha (great spirit, guiding inspiration) in dynamic contemporary art that challenges the establishment.

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The Pita Maha was a famous artist’s collective established in Ubud in 1936 by Tjokorda Agung Sukawati, Prince of Ubud , senior local artist and Bali’s first modern master Gusti Nyoman Lempad and expat Europeans, Walter Spies (1895-1942) and Rudolf Bonnet. Its vision was to develop and preserve a new art genre, labeled Balinese modern traditional art, and to present it outside of Bali.

 

Commercially and culturally, the birth of the Pita Maha, and its legacy had dramatic consequences. Large and new markets began to open for Balinese artists, from the 1930’s the initial wave of European and American tourists began to arrive, and an industry evolved to carter for their needs. Ubud as a consequence became perceived as the epicenter of Balinese Art and Culture.

20161023_161832                                    Painting by Wayan Budiarta

Located opposite the Campuhan Hotel on Jalan Raya Campuhan, for two decades the building that is the venue for A Brutal Contrast of Concrete and Kamasan Painting has remained unused. Stripped back to its core structural form of raw, concrete ceilings and floors, with aging white washed brick walls, it becomes the perfect environment for an underground event that within it’s soul is deeply rooted in ideology, and peppered with controversies from the Dutch colonial past.

Street art by Unclejoy, the Punten, Ego, Saf, Ola, Slinart and Kemalezedine, with potent sociopolitical content rendered in dynamic spray can color brings the tired, forgotten interior into vibrant life. Emerging Balinese contemporary Balinese artist Made Aji Aswino, a.k.a Ego continues on with his theme about the monster that is the human ego. His works makes references to the phenomenon of materialism that is engulfing modern Bali, and he juxtaposes his monsters of the ego identity with popular consumer icons. Kemalezedine meanwhile takes images from Dutch colonialism making reference to the era of the Pita Maha artists collective.

wayan-aris-sumanta                                Painting by Wayan Aris Sumanta

The paintings by emerging young Balinese artists are positioned to create a dynamic contrast with the street art, and igniting the interior walls. The artists include Dewa Gede Sanju, Gede Anton, Wayan Budiarta, Pande Made Di Artha, Made Ariana, Dwi Wayan Eka, Wayan Aris Sumanta, Gede Dwiyantara, Kadek Jutawan, Agus Suputra, Ketut Sumadi & Wayan Mandiyasa.

Batuan artists Wayan Budiarta and Wayan Aris Sumanta reveal that the Batuan School of painting boasts fresh and exciting talent, and that the recent formation of the Baturlangan artists collective in Batuan is reinvigorating this famous genre of Balinese art. Both artists possess a rare talent, while Budiarta’s works, one with powerful surrealistic elements, are especially outstanding.

street-art-by-ego-a-k-a-made-aji-aswino                                   Street Art by Ego, a.k.a Made Aji Aswino

This event is organized by Kemal Ezedine, one of the founding members along with Gede Mahahendra Yasa of the new art movement, the Neo Pitamaha. The Neo Pitamaha is an exciting development in Balinese contemporary art that has it ideology deeply rooted in the historical development of Balinese art during the past century, and began in 2013 with Mahendra Yasa, Ezedine (b.1978 Yogyakarta) and two other Balinese artists.

“We (the members of the Neo Pitamaha) have knowledge of history, culture, narratives and symbols within Balinese art yet we do not use this for our art discourse,” Ezedine says. “We aim to reinterpret this from a contemporary art perspective – retaining the principles involved with the techniques and methods. By opening this to new viewpoints we endeavor to awaken new spirit and introduce a fresh model of possibilities into Balinese art.”

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During the past 3 three years Ezedine and Mahendra Yasa have strategically set out to impact upon the Indonesian contemporary art scene participating in high level events in Java; exhibitions and art fairs in Bandung, Jakarta and Yogyakarta. Their presence was especially visible during August at the two international art fairs Art Stage Jakarta 2016 and 2016 Bazaar Art Jakarta.

A highlight of A Brutal Contrast of Concrete and Kamasan Painting opening was the palpable atmosphere that graced the event. A rare buzz of excitement was alive within the venue adding a fresh dimension to the already extraordinary event.

wayan-budiarta                                   Painting by Wayan Budiarta

Throughout the history of Indonesian art, artist’s collectives have played an essential role in shaping Indonesian modern and contemporary art. The art/anti colonial collectives that evolved last century in Java (PERSAGI 1938, POETERA 1942) played defining roles in the pro nationalism movement, while importantly using art as propaganda. In Bali the importance of organized art communities cannot be overstated.

There some key factors that give birth to art movements and the Neo Pitamaha have already succeeded in striking important targets, along with capturing a lot of attention in the Indonesian art capital of Jakarta. What remains next will play a defining role. One vital element within their ideology involves an important, yet tragic story of one of the true pioneers of Balinese art who was murdered by pro Dutch sympathizers in Batuan in 1946.

This is an anti establishment story.

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Cahyendra Putra and the Neo Pitamaha Invite You To: A Brutal Contrast of Concrete and Kamasan Painting was a part of the 2016 UWRF Art Exhibitions program and is listed in the UWRF Program Book on page 40, as Bali Underground: Pita Maha And Rudolf Bonnet. It was located on Jalan Raya Campuhan, opposite the Campuhan Hotel, upstairs on level 2 of the building that on the ground floor is a Notaris office. Look for the stairway and then head up.

Continuing through until 30 October, open daily 09:00 – 17:00.

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Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ritiro: An International Artist’s Retreat

04_jumaldi_alfi                                                 Jumaldi Alfi

Presenting an alternative platform for contemporary art in Bali, Kayu (wood in Bahasa Indonesia) is a series of exhibitions held at Rumah Topeng Dan Wayang Setiadarma (House of Masks & Puppets), in Mas Ubud. While contributing to the positive development of contemporary art in Bali since 2014 Kayu has become a distinctive, and fresh feature of the local art map, and calendar.

Aiming to provide a creative space for the exchange of information and knowledge between Bali and the global art world to help stimulate awareness and practices of contemporary art making via experimental and conceptual art events, Kayu is a part of a global art initiative by Lucie Fontaine, a self described art employer who lives and works in France, with many such programs around the world including in Milan, Stockholm, Tokyo and Bali.

Kayu – Lucie Fontaine’s branch in Indonesia, presents its fifth project Ritiro (The Retreat), a two-venue exhibition of international artists on view at Rumah Topeng in Bali and Rumah Doa Bagi Semua Bangsa (The House of Prayer for All Nations) in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia.

01_agnieszka_kurant                                               Agnieszka Kurant

Featuring work by leading Indonesian artists, expatriate Bali residents and other internationals, the participants are: Jumaldi Alfi, Ashley Bickerton, Lupo Borgonovo, Marco Cassani, Patrizio Di Massimo, Fendry Ekel, Dor Guez, Agnieszka Kurant, Filippo Sciascia, Alice Tomaselli, Entang Wiharso, and Alexandra Zuckerman. The exhibition aims to put forward the identity of Kayu, showing artworks altrove (elsewhere), in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, a place between magic and dream, in opposition to the traditional, often sterile, white cube gallery environment.

Ritiro takes – literally and metaphorically – the artworks away from the comfort zone of the white cube space, creating both physical and mental distance between the artworks and contemporary society. Over the duration of Ritiro the artworks will be presented in two different venues: opening from 4 to 15 December at Rumah Topeng, and on 20 December at Rumah Doa Bagi Semua Bangsa, in Central Java.

The one-day relocation of the artworks to the Rumah Doa Bagi Semua Bangsa, conceived as a site of worship where people of all religions could pray, is a building in the shape of a gigantic dove located in a remote hillside area of Central Java.

02_ashley_bickerton                                              Ashley Bickerton

Rumah Topeng is an excellent location for an exhibition outside of conventions, its pavilions being traditional Javanese houses made from teak wood that perfectly coincide with the Kayu theme. The interior of the pavilion, rich in warm natural wood tones and grain provides a setting that contrasts with, and enhances the presentation of contemporary art. Traditional Javanese design elements, as well lend to the aura of Rumah Topeng making it a unique location in Bali to present art. Kayu’s series of events come as a welcome respite to the Bali art scene.

Italian contemporary artist Filippo Sciascia’s relationship with Asia and Indonesia began back in 1998, however, says the artist, he has only truly “come of age as an Italian-Indonesian artist” in 2013 when he successfully fused iconography from the two worlds into a single creation of art. Moscow born Israeli artist Alexandra Zuckerman draws and paints portraits, figurative images, hybrid elements, worn depictions, and fairytales. Her intricate and mysterious representations are always engaging.

03_filippo_sciascia                                           Filippo Sciascia

Leading Indonesian international artist Entang Wiharso (b.1967, Tegal, Central Java) lives and works in Rhode Island, USA and Yogyakarta. An avid observer of chaos he works in a variety of media to present his narratives, his work is often not for the fainthearted. Agnieszka Kurant is a Polish conceptual and interdisciplinary artist that explores how complex social, economic and cultural systems can operate in ways that confuse distinctions between fiction and reality or nature and culture.

Regarded as the most famous unknown painter living Bali, Ashley Bickerton, one time resident and darling of the New York art set has called Bali home since 1993. His dynamic, intuitive, frequently satirical mixed media works often speak of the encounter of East and West in all its joyful and ludicrous ways. Dor Guez is an Israeli artist and a scholar who is a critical voice from the Middle East. His work interrogates personal and official accounts of the past while revealing histories that were previously absent. Ubud based Italian artist Marco Cassani is the organizational force on the ground in Bali for the Kayu events. Born in Milan in 1981 his recent works have involved research projects into marginalized groups within the Indonesian society.

05_lupo_borgonovo-_1                                              Lupo Borgonovo

For tourists and the locals who visited Rumah Topeng many have strong memories of meeting an evergreen gentleman, the manager Agustinus Praynito. Pak Prayitno, as he was affectionately known, was a kind hearted man with a booming voice and smile, always with a warm greeting, laugh and a sparkle in his eye. Instrumental in the years of hard work that helped establish Rumah Topeng, the facility and its array of excellent supporting events, into a world class feature of Bali, Prayitno’s charm an inseparable highlight.

Coming as a great shock to many, tragically Pak Prayitno passed away during October. Ritiro is dedicated to the loving memory of Agustinus Prayitno 1946 – 2016 RIP.

08_marco_cassani_detail                                             Marco Cassani

Vernissage: 2 PM 4 December

3 PM 4 December an Art Lecture

Ritiro continues through until December 20

Rumah Topeng & Wayang Setiadarma,

Banjar Tegal Bingin, Mas, Ubud, Bali

Open Daily: 9:00 am – 16:00 pm

Tel: 0817-6022-234

Words: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

ABAD FOTOGRAFI: the Age of Photography #2

yasu-suzuka_resized                Tapestry of Buddhist Monks Hands – Installation by Yasu Suzuka

The origins of the ABAD FOTOGRAFI – The Age of Photography exhibition that opened at the National Gallery of Indonesia in Jakarta 15 November may be traced back to 2013, and the artistic and cultural heartland of Bali, Ubud.

A small group of senior photographers from Jakarta traveled to Bali to do some shooting assignments and met up with expat photographers from various countries who reside in Bali. This spontaneous meet-up developed into serious discussion and eventually expanded, involving more photographers, both local and international.

Inspired by developments and the diversity in the world of photography, the idea of organizing a joint exhibition came about to show this diversity; an exhibition featuring photography of the most conventional, to the most progressive works.

sjaiful-boen                ‘Pemahaman Nenek Luh…!!!’– Installation by Sjaiful Boen

The Age of Photography – Intentions and Transparency in Photographs opened 12 December 2013 at the Tony Raka Art Gallery in Ubud, presenting the work of leading Indonesian and expatriate professional and amateur photographers. Senior Indonesian curator Jim Supangkat brought together 29 photographers from Indonesia, America, Japan, Australia and Europe in an exhibition full of contrasts and delights.

One of the highlights was by Swiss born engineer and software developer Jiri Kudrna, a pioneer in experimental photography. Kudrna’s photo machine created fantastic images – a fusion of the four time space dimensions – housed within a dark room in the gallery and allowed observers to participate within his unique procedure.

“The picture take process is a complex choreography between the photographer, model and machine with often almost unpredictable results. Randomness is a desired and calculated part of the process,” Kudrna said.

james-wilkins                                                  Conflict – James Wilkins

Given the current revolution in digital smartphone technology that includes cameras as a functional component photography is now been accessed by the masses. While most are obsessed with self-empowerment via “selfies” and posting the images onto social media platforms, many too are exploring the greater creative and practical potentials of photography. As a consequence the opening of The Age of Photography #2 in Jakarta attracted an enormous crowd, along with much media attention.

The exhibition featured a huge array of diversity by a group of twenty local and international photographers. Works are printed on stone, acrylic glass, cloth and bamboo, cyanotypes, pinhole shots, analog processed pictures, hi-res landscapes, along with abstract images difficult to identify as photographs. While being more experimental than the first exhibition in 2013 some of the highlights of The Age of Photography #2 include American photographer, artist and designer based in New York and Bali James Wilkins’ two technically perfect, huge abstracts of body armor.

Conflict is a complex, layered consideration of both the interpersonal, micro aspects of psychology and being, and the macro themes of conflict throughout the history of time,” Wilkins said.

kun-tanubrata                                  Images by Kun Tanubrata

Popular with the local media, Indonesian photographer Sjaiful Boen exhibited two political,  controversial, and censored installations, ‘Pemahaman Nenek Luh…!!!’ & “As Your Grandmother’s Understanding…!!!’ featuring Jakarta’s currently besieged Governor Ahok. Boen’s interactive installations talk to the audience.

Renowned Japanese photographer Yasu Suzuka (b.1947) contributes an impressive installation Tapestry of Buddhist Monks Hands, featuring textiles with large black and white dye printed images of praying monk hands, hung in unison. His installation resonates with a potent contemplative aura while being a message for world peace. At the center of the ‘Praying Hands’ work there is a pinhole photograph showing the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome in Japan.

Prominent Balinese painter Agung Mangu Putra works shine with the simplicity and genius. De Ja Vu #5, a black and white image printed on paper captures a twisted cloth seemingly captured floating in mid air, set against gloomy skies and an ocean seascape. “Photography is a medium that allows me to express ideas and thoughts that I cannot achieve using conventional mediums,” Mangu Putra said.

jiri-kudrna-1                                 Light Plane Photographs by Jiri Kudrna

Indonesian photographer Hermandari Kartowisastra (b.1943) presents two beautiful black and white minimal landscape images printed on aluminum silver brush, Ekuilibrium 1 & 2. Presenting the works side-by-side she splits the images in the middle with the horizon line contrasting light and dark skies upon empty, surreal landscapes. Kun Tanubrata (b.1947) exhibits four beautiful works printed on rattan mats, Aku Bertanya is both elegant yet haunting in its simplicity and comes complete within the exhibition catalog with a complementing poetic verse.

Again Jiri Kudrna’s work was a highlight of the exhibition, presenting six Light Plane Photographs (LPP) created with his experimental machines, half printed on acrylic glass and the remainder printed on brushed aluminum. His three interactive installations, Space – Time Variations were very popular, the audience creating over 1800 pictures in four days.

jiri-kudrna-3                         Space – Time Variations Installation by Jiri Kudrna

“The most satisfactory thing for me is to watch the Indonesian kids experimenting with my installations, being creative and having fun,” Kudrna said.   LPP is a technique invented by Kudrna uses a plane of light and a camera to record photographs with unique optic effects.

ABAD FOTOGRAFI – The Age of Photography

Continues through unti 28 November at the National Gallery of Indonesia.

More images may be accessed on Facebook.com/abadfotografi &

@abadfotografi on Twitter

r-haryanto                                               Images by R. Haryanto

Words: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

 

 

Wayan Karja: From a ‘Young Artist’ to Balinese Visionary

p21iwayan-img_assist_custom-511x337                                                       Wayan Karja

Within every Balinese village there is a tale or two to be told.

The association between the master and pupil has played a vital role in the development of Balinese traditional art. The bonds amid teacher and student, father and son, or among relatives have enabled the sharing of ideas, support and tuition. Such relationships helped categorize Balinese art by village styles or ‘schools’.

In the late1920’s – 30’s, Balinese art was being revolutionized and adapted for foreign tastes. The two-dimensional Hindu narratives, Kamasan or Wayang paintings met head on with western aesthetics and the results were dramatic. The development of tourism created large markets for these new paintings, and localized schools of art, such as the Ubud, Sanur and Batuan schools, came to the fore.

20160804_184737                                                “Cosmic Energy 2016”

Fast forward to 1959 when Arie Smit, an accomplished Dutch artist living in Penestanan began sharing art materials with, and teaching young boys in the village. This was the beginning of the “Young Artists” style, and at its height there was about 300 village practitioners. Colorful and fresh, it was very popular in the 1970’s as tourism was enjoying a revival. Penestanan has a distinctive artistic history of its own.

This tale however, is about a painter, art educator and administrator from the village who has succeeded in creating a unique artistic voice within the framework of Balinese modern art.

Wayan Karja’s earliest memories are of sitting in his father’s lap with a paintbrush in hand.

“My father often guided my hand through sketches or marked areas within a composition that I would fill in with color,” Karja says. “I was very lucky to grow up in a thriving art environment, every member of my family within the compound was painting, even the women too. This intense activity was inspirational.”

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Born in Penestanan in 1965 Karja’s natural ability and birthright automatically sealed his fate. Determined to learn more about art he received a wealth of local and international art education. Karja studied in Switzerland in 2008-11 painting abstract landscapes, while in 1997-99 he undertook an art scholarship at the University of South Florida, USA. At the School of Fine Arts, Denpasar, 1981-85 he broadened his knowledge of art theory and international art, and then at the Udayana University in Denpasar, 1985-1990 delved into impressionism and abstraction, and was inspired by Monet, Van Gogh and Matisse.

From 1978-81 Karja studied the Ubud style learning about light, shade and the anatomy. As a child he was introduced to the master pupil association and trained for many years under the watchful eye of his father Ketut Santra who gave him his indoctrination into the “Young Artist” style. “There were no galleries at that time so the buyers came direct to the artist’s home. At the age of 10 I sold my first painting,” Karja recalls.

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In 1994 upon visiting a museum in Switzerland Karja had his most profound art experience. One that began his love affair with modern art. He observed a pure red composition by the American abstract painter Mark Rothko.

“Is this what they call art?” Was Karja’s cynical response.

Yet by the time Karja had completed his tour of the museum the significance of the work was understood. Rothko’s work leapt out from the walls and “spoke” to him unlike any other artist had previously done. Rarely had an Indonesian artist adopted color as their sole message, least of all the Balinese.

“Balinese art is about tight configurations of patterns, details and narratives yet I was always driven to search into its philosophies.” Karja’s journey eventually led him to a deep exploration of cross-cultural thinking and he began combining the philosophy of the Balinese Hindu Mandala colors with modern western techniques. Karja’s initial response to the colors and movement of his environment (landscape and culture) had been based on emotion, yet the impact of Rothko and other western painters demanded from him a new sense of selfexpression.

“Balinese abstraction developed in the 1970’s yet it was different to the western model. Most of our creations are deeply rooted in traditions including icons, symbolic and non-symbolic elements, as well as philosophical and spiritual aspects of the Balinese way of life.” Karja’s direction evolved through intellectual endeavor, “Allowing my work to become simpler and more spiritual,” Karja says.

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Karja’s technique involves building layers of color, often in drips and with the use of watered down medium often creating swirling and dynamic organic forms. The works may be subtle and shimmering, or powerfully vibrant. They are always inviting, meditative and mysterious, creating aesthetic contrasts between the landscape and the cosmos.

“There is no separation between art and life,” Karja says. “Life is color and my physical and spiritual journey is to become an accomplished colorist painter.”

His contribution, via teaching, to the development of Balinese art has been substantial. Karja began in 1990 at the School of Fine Arts in Ubud and then at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI) in Denpasar where he continues teaching to this day. Over the years he has taught locally and abroad holding various positions, from 2002-04 as head of the Fine Arts Dept., Indonesian College of the Arts (STSI), Denpasar and from 2004-08 as the Dean of the Visual Arts Department at ISI.

“I enjoyed and benefited from this experience,” he says. “However being an administrator took me away from my artistic dreams.”

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Karja has exhibited in many international countries and frequently travels locally and abroad giving lectures, speeches and engaging in collaborative projects. At his family’s guesthouse Santra Putra in Penestanan is his gallery and studio, along with a space open to the public for workshops and events, where he teaches tourists and often hosts exhibitions by young local artists.

“Journey to the Unknown” Karja’s March 2015 exhibition in Jakarta showcased 42 paintings created between 2010-15 was an outstanding success. “The audience’s response was excellent, nonetheless I experienced an unexpected sense of liberation. I realized to complete a procession from childhood through to adulthood, my transition from a world of freedom to one dominated by mental activity, in order to sustain my creative journey I have to return to a childlike state.”

“I have now opened a new door with the motto – play, flow and free. I am invigorated and my works reflect a new joy,” Karja says.

“Now I am learning how to play again.”

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http://www.wayankarja.com

Words: Richard Horstman

 

 

Opening Doors On Indonesian Art History Discourse – YOS 2016

20161022_163626Leading Indonesian artist Entang Wiharso shares with the audience about his creative journey at Black Goat Studio during the YOS 2016 Focus Tours.

 

As a platform for dialogue and collaboration the annual Yogyakarta Open Studio (YOS) program supports the development of new knowledge and documentation on contemporary art studio practice. It provides the public and arts community with exposure to an array of artists working in a variety of fields at various stages in their career.

Artist studios’ are essential sites of engagement revealing details of the creative practice that cannot be seen elsewhere. They give insight into an artist’s environment and state of mind, highlights with whom they interact and their strategic approaches to developing their careers. Beginning in 2013, each year Yogyakarta based artists are invited to open their studios while examining a specific theme. YOS 2016’s theme is “Artists Engagement With Art History”.

20161021_120624Lugis Studio, the creative hub and printing making facility of artists Muhlis Lugi open to the public during YOS 2016.

 

As the study of the development of the visual arts, art history involves understanding the social, political, and intellectual context of art in relation to its cultural origins. Art historians attempt to answer in historically specific ways questions that relate to style, meaning, visual and discursive function, and artistic practices.

“Indonesian art is fully part of the global art scene, so its historical analysis – its development and writing – are more pressing than ever before,” said YOS Director Christine Cocca.

“We selected art history as this year’s theme because of the pivotal, but perhaps neglected position it has in Indonesian art discourse.”

“YOS 2016 wishes to jump-start the conversation about qualification and look at how aspiring Indonesia art historians go about gaining the education they need in a country that still doesn’t offer a degree in art history,” she adds.

20161022_133106Australian artist Sally Smart describes some of her creative processes with the audience at Studio Sally Smart during the YOS 2016 Focus Tours.

 

Running 19 -23 October YOS 2016 collaborates with a group of local and international art historians whose work engages with Indonesian contemporary art. An essential element aligning artist, practice, thought and audience, a series of expert led Focus Tours giving visitors the opportunity for in-depth discussions about the artists’ work and studio practice is offered 22 & 23 October from 1-5 pm.

Participating art historians are Agus Burhan and Suwarno Wisetrotomo from Yogyakarta, Leonor Veiga, Portugal, Mary-Louise Totton, USA, Amanda Katherine Rath, Germany, Wulan Dirgantoro and Astrid Honold both based in Germany and Indonesia. Together they have developed a series of interviews with participating studios exploring artists’ engagement with the production, function and impact of the discipline on their practice. Seventeen artist’s studios situated around Yogyakarta will be open during YOS 2016.

“Indonesia has an extensive art historical record, but little art historical discourse is being done,” said Leonor Veiga, a PhD candidate at Leiden University whose dissertation The Third Avant-Garde: Recalling Tradition in Contemporary Southeast Asian Art analyses how contemporary art practices negotiate traditional arts in the region.

“Curators work reaches more artists than work of art historians which is problematic, leading to artists being cultural orphans with little understanding where their work may fit in art historical terms,” Veiga adds. “Grassroots initiatives like YOS 2016 create space for debate, and contribute to open discussions about essential issues.”

20161021_210858Suwarno Wisetromo, Entang Wiharso, Heri Dono, Fendry Ekel and Mikke Sustanto engaged in discussions on issues concerning Indonesian Art history at RJ Katamsi Galeri, ISI Yogakarta as a part of the YOS 2016 program.

 

“Through YOS artist’s studios became more alive and accessible; far from the image of mysterious,” said Suwarno Wisetromo, a professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI) Yogyakara, and curator at the National Gallery of Indonesia, who pursed his PhD in History with a focus on art to try and achieve comparable qualifications.

“Participating studios have to work together with historians, conduct research and create relevant works. The artists are challenged to become the initiator. Providing an alternative ‘space’ and ‘approach’ to existing events such as the Jogja Bienale, Art Jog, and gallery exhibitions that are outside of curatorial and commercial platforms makes YOS significant, ”Suwarno adds.

Reflecting on sustainability Astrid Honold, who divides her time between Berlin and Yogyakarta said, “As a young country, Indonesia, very understandably has other priorities. Art, in a way, as important and existential as it might be, is a luxurious occupation. Other things come first. But then you get the market which thinks you can just jump over centuries of development of thought. Well you cannot.”

20161020_161205Open to the public during YOS 2016, Studio Jumaldi Alfi, featuring the work of well-known Indonesian international artist Jumaldi Alfi.

 

“I am excited to be participating in YOS 2016,” said Heri Dono, the founder of the Kalahan Studio and one of Indonesia’s most prominent international names. “YOS is important to the development of contemporary art in Yogyakarta.”

“Our priority is to examine issues in the art world through the artist’s eyes and experiences. Importantly, YOS lets the artists set the terms,” Cocca adds. Complete with online information, maps, and a program of expert guided studio tours YOS not only supports the development of art and cultural tourism in Yogyakarta, yet the Indonesian creative economies sector as well.

Participating artists include Endang Lestari, Sujud Dartanto, Entang Wiharso, Theresia Agustina Sitompul, Nia Fliam, Agus Ismoyo, Fendry Ekel, Deni Rahman, Lenny Ratnasari Weichert, Ivan Sagita, Komroden Haro, Lugas Syllabus, Noor Ibrahim, Eddi Prabandono, Sally Smart, Heri Dono, Jumaldi Alfi, Muhlis Lugis and Desrat Fianda.

yos-discussion-at-studio-kalahan-heri-dono-image-courtesy-yos-2016YOS Director Christine Cocca and Heri Dono giving an art presentation, a pre YOS 2016 event at Dono’s Kalahan Studios. Image courtesy YOS.

http://www.yogyakartaopenstudio.com

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

The Legacy of Arie Smit 1916-2016

20160827_191628The Death of Dutch Colorist Arie Smit 23 March 2016 is an Enormous Loss to The Canon of Southeast Asian Art.

 

During an August seminar at Ubud’s Neka Art Museum, a gathering of over 100 members of the Balinese art community paid homage to the legacy of the Dutch post-modern colourist Arie Smit (1916-2016). The iconic painter, who left a distinguished mark in the history of art in the region, passed away 23 March, only days short of his 100th birthday.

Renowned for his vibrant landscape paintings and scenes of Balinese village life Smit is a much-loved artist; his work forms part of collections in Indonesia, and throughout the world. Characterised by rapid movements with dense mosaics of color, allowing only scenic images to emerge in abstract forms, Smit’s compositions resemble an impressionist-pointillist style, and have been dubbed “Poems of Color.”

painting-by-arie-smit-image-richard-horstman                                        “Rhythms of Life” 1990

Drafted into the Netherlands army, sent abroad and stationed with the topographical service in Batavia, now Jakarta, Smit first set foot in the Dutch East Indies in 1938. Previously he studied art at the Academy of Arts in Amsterdam. In 1942 with the out break of World War II he was imprisoned by the invading Japanese army, later being shipped to Singapore, Thailand, and then Burma to undertake forced labour.

In 1950 Smit returned when the Dutch acknowledged Indonesia’s sovereignty after the revolution of Independence (1945-1949), becoming an Indonesian citizen. He settled in Ubud in 1956. Enchanted by the tropical light and landscape he roamed throughout Bali, reputedly moving house 36 times. Smit became the most important stimulator of painting on Bali, post Second World War.

20160827_192255                              “Full Moon Ceremony” 1994

“The Balinese trust more in their feelings than which meets the eye,” said seminar speaker Suteja Neka, founder of the Neka Art museum, long time friend, and Smit’s art dealer. “Smit’s unique skill was in capturing the potent invisible elements of Bali in his dazzling colourful verve.”

“Smit had a different way of seeing Bali’s landscape compared with the other Western artists of the 1930’s-1950’s era,” said art observer, Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) lecturer, curator and artist Dr. Wayan Kun Adnyana. “Bringing a western perspective, similar to fauvism, through his personal interpretation colour became the language and entity to explore and communicate Bali’s tropical nature.”

20160827_192221                               “Galungan Holiday” 1996

“In 1960 Smit began sharing art materials with, and teaching young boys in the village of Penestanan, near Ubud. This was the beginning of the “Young Artists Style”. At its height there was more than 300 practitioners,” said international artist and ISI lecturer Wayan Karja, who was born in Penestanan in 1965. “He helped transform the village, and prosper economically; poor farmers turned into painters. Not only was he an art teacher, Smit was a father figure to the village as well.”

The “Young Artists Style” was fresh and exciting; 60’s Balinese psychedelic pop art that emphasized color, the denseness of pure decoration, with a strong graphic sense. Smit did not attempt to influence the style of boys work, only the subject matter of village life. At his home studio he was careful to keep his paintings out of sight so they were never copied.

During the tourism boom of the 1970’s the genre became enormously popular.

20160827_192357                                                “Orchids” 1991

Smit’s work comes in a wide range of formats, from small postcard sizes to works of 1.5 meters or larger. After the 2008-2010 Indonesian contemporary art boom that witnessed over inflated prices for up and coming artists, collectors shifted their focus to Indonesian modern art. Paintings by the old masters became popular, some of which were considered as undervalued.

In 2011 the market realized a record price for the most expensive work sold at auction by Smit at the March Larasati Singapore sale. “Balinese Village and Farmlands” sold for close to 5 times its estimated price at a high of US $ 124,000. At Christie’s Hong Kong Asian 20th Century Art Sale May 2015 Smit’s “Pura” sold for just over US $ 207,000.

20160827_192435                                 “A Tropical Garden by the Sea” 1999

Nowadays many of Smit’s works sell for modest prices within their estimates and under US $4,000. The Smit connoisseurs however, are very specific about their choices with some willing to compete bidding the prices up, determined to secure their desired trophy works.

During Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn Sales 2016 in the Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art Day Sale 3 October thirteen paintings by Smit, ranging through the decades from the 1970’s – 1990’s, go under the hammer. They are sure to attract much attention from regional and international art collectors.

20160827_192122                                              “Low Tide” 1988

Believing that a painter’s style was, in short, his personality, Smit’s oeuvre reinforced his claim, reflecting traceable changes and developments over time. His aesthetics created a greater position for Bali within the context of Indonesian art.

Arie Smit spent his final days lying peacefully in bed at home in Ubud, despite his failing eyesight his mind remained clear. Famed for his “broken colors” style, his passing is a monumental loss to the canon of Southeast Asian art.

20160827_192147           “A Split Gate. Three Women and a Dog, And Two Heron Birds” 1999

The paintings pictured above are just a small part of the Arie Smit collection at the Neka Art Museum on Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Ubud.

 

Indonesian Art Growing in Popularity With Regional Collectors: Reviewing Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn Sales 2016

sothebys-auction-scene_modern-and-contemporary-asian-art-evening-sale-image-coutesy-sothebysScene from the Sotheby’s Sale 2 October, Affandi’s “Borobudur and the Sun” 1984, sets a new world record for the artist selling for US $ 1.26 million. All Images courtesy of Sotheby’s  Hong Kong.

 

More than 290 items of fine art went under the hammer in two auctions of special interest to collectors of Indonesian Modern and Contemporary Art during Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn Sales 2016. The Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Evening Sale 2 October, and the Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art Day Sale 3 October featured paintings by the prominent Indonesia artists. More than half the total of auction lots sold achieving prices over their high estimates, reflecting a well-curated sale aligned with the current market.

affandi_borobudur-and-the-sun                        “Borobudur and the Sun” 1984 – Affandi.

There were two notable highlights of the Modern & Contemporary Asian Art Evening Sale, of the four works by Indonesia’s most internationally renowned modernist Affandi (1907-1990), 2 sold within their estimated prices, however Lot # 1034 “Borobudur and The Sun” 1984, estimated between US$ 585,000 – 880,000 set a new world record for the artist selling for US $ 1.26 million, including the buyers premium.

ay-tjoe-christine-when-it-is-the-only-path-of-going-home-image-courtesy-of-sothebys-hong-kong“When It Is the Only Path of Going Home” – Ay Tjoe Chrsitine. Sold for US $ 429,000.

Indonesia’s most sought after female contemporary painter Ay Tjoe Christine (b.1973) is distinguished by her sensitive, yet often dark and moody abstract compositions. Lot # 1071 “When It Is the Only Path of Going Home”, estimated price between US $ 77,500 -104,000 sold for a whopping US $429,000. Another work by Affandi, Lot #1035 “Balinese girl with Piglet” estimated between US $ 232,000 – 322,000 sold for US $ 505,000.

lee-man-fong_satay-vendor-with-mother-and-son “Tukang Sate Dengan Anak & Ibu” – Lee Man Fong. Sold for US $ 161,000.

Lot # 1064 by Lee Man Fong (1913-1988) “Setelah Mandi” with an estimated price between US $ 77,000 – 116,000 sold for US $ 145,000. Lot # 1061 “Village Life” 1975, by Hendra Gunawan (1918-1983), estimated between US $ 710,000 – 1,100,000, sold for US $ 846,000, while Lot # 1073 “Proud” 2012, by Nyoman Masriadi (b.1973), estimated between US $ 258,000 – 387,000 sold for US $320,000.

09_hendra-gunawan_chicken-vendors               “Pedagang Ayam” – Hendra Gunawan. Sold for US $ 350,771.

Highlights of the 3 October Modern & Contemporary Southeast Asian Art Day Sale include Lot # 399 “Landscape Gunung Kawi, Bali” by Srihadi Sudarsono (b.1931), estimated price between US$ 49,000 – 71,000, sold for US $ 89,000. Lot # 391 “Pedagang Ayam” by Hendra Gunawan estimated between US $154,000 – 232,000, and sold for US $ 350,771, and Lot # 368 “Three Women in the Garden” by Adrien le Mayeur (1880-1958) estimated between US $ 154,000 – 232,000 sold US $ 319,821.

srihadi-sudarsono_landscape-gunung-kawi-bali       “Landscape Gunung Kawi, Bali” – Srihadi Sudarsono. Sold for US $ 89,000.

Again Ay Tjoe Christine was popular, Lot # 218 “When I See It Is The Only Way Home #1”, estimated between US $ 38,000 – 64,000 sold for US $ 258,000. Mochtar Apin (1923-1994) with Lot # 385 “Memecah”, a wonderful abstract triptych with an estimated price between US $ 38,000 – 64,000 sold for US $ 92,720. Lot # 364 “Exotic Nude With Gong” by Antonio Blanco (1923-1991) with an estimated price between US $ 8,000 – 12,000 sold for US $ 25,972.

2-lot-368-adrien-jean-le-mayeur-de-merpres_three-women-in-the-garden   “Three Women in the Garden” – Adrien le Mayeur. Sold US $ 319,821.

Lot # 227 “Seven Magnificent Masterpieces #1&2”by Bali’s Gede Mahendra Yasa (b.1967) is from a series focusing on the exploration of Balinese aesthetics, with an estimated price between US $ 38,700 – 64,500 the works sold for US $ 116,000. Collectors responded with enthusiasm to works by emerging artists demonstrating the healthy development of the market, two Indonesian artists with strong results were Oky Rey Montha (b. 1986) Lot # 225 “The Dark Salvador” estimated price between US $ 5,800 – 8,300 sold for US $ 11,284, and M Irfan (b. 1972) with Lot #237 “One Day For Good Day” estimated between US $19,000 – 25,000 and selling at US $ 40,000.

mochtar-apin_memecah-triptych-1 “Memecah” – Mochtar Apin. One third of the triptych that sold for US $ 92,720.

The recent death of renowned Dutch colorist Arie Smit (1916-2016) was an enormous loss to Indonesian art. Thirteen paintings within a range of prices went under hammer, four failed to sell, while 8 sold within the estimated prices, however Lot # 348 “Full Moon in Bali”, estimated price between US $ 14,000 – 20,000 sold for US$ 20,956. Other well known artists included in the sales were S. Sudjojono, Dullah, Agus Suwage, Entang Wiharso, Agung Mangu Putra, Heri Dono, Rudolf Bonnet and Willem Hofker.

gede-mahendra-yasa_i-seven-magnificent-masterpieces-image-courtesy-of-sothebys“Seven Magnificent Masterpieces #2” – Gede Mahendra Yasa.  His two works sold for US $ 116,000.

“In 1996, Sotheby’s began selling Southeast Asian Art in Singapore. The auctions for the category moved to Hong Kong in 2008, providing a platform for increased international exposure,” said Sotheby’s Hong Kong Head of Department, Southeast Asian Art, Kim Chuan Mok.

“Southeast Asian art is considered relatively affordable compared to art in other regions, making it a popular entry point for new collectors. Indonesia dominates the region’s art market with a greater than 50 percent market share based on total auction sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s.”

lot-348_full-moon-in-bali                     “Full Moon in Bali” – Arie Smit. Sold for US$ 20,956.

An example of the buoyancy of this market was evident at the 2015 Sotheby’s Autumn Sale with Hendra Gunawan’s “Bathing in the Shower” selling for US $ 1.3 million, more than 5 times higher than the most expensive Southeast Asian painting sold at the first auction for the category in 1996. The results of the 2 & 3 October auctions confirm the growing demand for Indonesian modern and contemporary art by regional collectors (Taiwan, Hong Kong & Japan), especially works by the maestros, by collectors seeking quality.

nyoman-masriadi-proud-image-courtesy-of-sothebys-hong-kong

“Proud” 2012 – Nyoman Masriadi.  Sold for US $320,000.

Words by Richard Horstman