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Swedish Artist Richard Winkler at Home in Bali

Work in progress                             Richard Winkler at work in his Sanur studio

Swedish artist Richard Winkler’s creative development charts a course that isn’t unlike others who have settled in Bali. He has, however succeeded in doing what few foreign artists in Indonesia can do.  Art lovers and collectors quickly recognized Winkler’s talent and he created a niche within the large, yet difficult to penetrate, Indonesian contemporary art market.

Within his paintings Winkler creates a fantastic Balinese utopian landscape. His compositions feature figures, bulbous and distorted, that contain the extraordinary story of his own body and personal experience of having to cope with a rare bone disorder. From an early age painful boney growths continued to reappear on Winkler’s limbs and he had to undergo regular surgery to have them removed.

Farmers of the Blue Hills, 150x200cm, 2010. oil on canvas Richar Winkler.                                        Farmers of the Blue Hills, 2010

“These experiences taught me to love and honor the physical vehicle in which I was born. They have inspired me,” Winkler said.  “This has helped develop a resilient character, and given me an enormously positive outlook on life.”

Winkler’s figures reflect the creative nature of the human DNA that manifests in countless body forms and sizes, from obese to beautiful, and from the vigorous to the diseased.   “I resonate with the abstract nature of my figures. Subconsciously a part of me springs forth and then in the studio it comes to life through my works. It is my own unique creative process,” he adds.

Mother Earth, 2011, Bronze, 217Hx152Wx212D                                         Mother Earth, 2011

At a glance Winkler’s oil paintings are an amalgamation of subtle curves, delightful arcs suggesting nature’s perfect symbol – the circle. The exaggerated human forms that occupy his compositions feature bulging backsides, toros and limbs. His works are studies of balance and precision, enhanced by his perfect brush work technique.

Winkler’s coloration is never over powering, his rich environmental scenarios send tranquil messages. The soft greens and blues within his tropical locales contain delicate, soothing melodies. Occasionally he adopts contrasting colors, positioned to create aesthetic impact.

20160825_161839                                                  A Beautiful Afternoon, 2016

Rarely does Winkler utilize the potency of the straight line within his settings. When he does it will be the horizon line, that helps denote the composition’s depth of field, while delivering a jolt of tension within his “sea of curves”.

About 12 years ago Winkler was driven to transform his ideas into large three dimensional forms. His process began with experimentation and learning how and what he needed to be. First he constructed and ‘played’ with models, simplistic and crude, and then the momentum of his creativity grew. It was not long before Winkler was forging wonderful sculptures in bronze.

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These are monumental, minimalist reclining figures, some more than 3 meters in height. Winkler takes the voluptuous characters from his paintings and expands on their size. To achieve the perfect symmetries in his sculptures requires time and skill, so during the process he must continuously run his hands over the extremities of the models to identify and correct imperfections.

The models are then dismantled in his Sanur studio and transferred to Central Java,  reassembled and caste in liquid bronze, and then the finishing is done. His characters are finally positioned according to the client’s wishes, and appear rooted and secure as if they have grown up and out of the earth.

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Richard Winkler was born in 1969 in Norrkoping, Sweden and studied graphic design and illustration at the Beckman’s School of Design in Stockholm. For some years he worked as an illustrator for advertising and magazines.  In 1997 he moved from Europe to Ubud to become a full-time painter. His work is a metaphor for the omnipotent fertility of the universe, while celebrating the beauty of the Balinese landscape.

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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the Unsung Museum – highlighting issues challenging Indonesia’s on-going struggle for democracy

A miniture work "They Gave Evidence" by Dadang Christianto, collected by the Unsung Museum. Photo by Wirya Satya AdenatyaA miniature work “They Gave Evidence” by Dadang Christianto, collected by the Unsung Museum. Photo by Wirya Satya Adenatya

 

The Unsung Museum (Museum Tanpa Tanda Jasa) is a landmark, travelling exhibition that is currently crisscrossing the country and features miniature artworks that are big on cultural significance. The exhibition highlights the most important issues challenging Indonesia’s on going struggle for democracy since the nation’s colourful, fledgling journey began. These issues include tolerance of minority groups, along with ethnic, ideologically and religious diversity, and collective harmony.

Taking a series of chronologically banned, destroyed, removed or censored artworks the Unsung Museum displays them in scaled-down miniature versions of the real things. Accompanying these mini-masterpieces are news articles from the time, together with amusing parodied public reactions and news media video installations.

“Art is no stranger to controversy; throughout its history it has presented works that have irked the moral guardians of the day,” said Yogyakarta based curator Grace Samboh, one of many members of the Indonesian contemporary art community who have initiated the Unsung Museum in an event that characterizes the social conscience and synergy of some of the country’s most relevant and motivated artists and activists. “Sometimes to see why an artwork that is deemed controversial, we need to see it from a different perspective, and what better way is there than to see it in miniature.”

An audience member at ROH Projects, Jakarta during the Undsung Museum - Photo Credit: Wirya Satya Adenatya.An audience member at ROH Projects, Jakarta during the Undsung Museum – Photo Credit/ Wirya Satya Adenatya

Beginning September 2016 at Jakarta’s ROH Projects, for 3 weeks the exhibition set out to inform, not only citizens, yet members of the Indonesian art industry, of the relevance of these pressing issues. The exhibition was next showcased in Central Java, at Yogyakarta’s Kedai Kebun Forum from late October running into November, then opening in West Java, at Bandung’s Ruang Gerilya, 15 December until 7 January 2017.

“We are retelling stories of several artworks that were once considered a ‘public nuisance’ during the Reformation Era because of three recurring reasons related to pornography, communism and SARA (ethnic, religion, race and inter-group relations) by three elements of the society (citizens/individuals, mass organizations and government),” Samboh said. “Based on these assumptions, several artworks attracted a variety of problems ranging from threats, restrictions, and even destruction.”

The country with the largest Islamic population on the planet, with Christian, Buddhist and Hindu religious minorities, however, is currently undergoing its most turbulent and disruptive period. The recent 8 May controversy at the Indonesian Islamic University’s Center for Human Rights Studies in Yogyakarta with the banning of paintings and poetry by members of the youth organization Pemuda Pancasila who enforced the closure of artist Andreas Iswinarno’s exhibition, Tribute to Wiji Thukul: Saya Masih Utuh dan Kata-kata Belum Binasa (I’m still complete and words have not yet been destroyed) on suspicion the works contained communism ideas, highlights the urgency of the Unsung Museum.

IMG_5400 Kredit foto Wirya Satya AdenatyaAt ROH Projects, Jakarta during the Undsung Museum – Photo Credit/ Wirya Satya Adenatya

“Bearing in mind a number of concerns about the stability of (ideas within) democracy, as well as democratic behavior in today’s society, our main question is: What does democracy mean to each and every one of us today, as part of the society, as citizens, and as someone who works in the arts?” Samboh said reflecting on the inspiration behind the exhibition. “We have adopted the concept of a mobile museum for the exhibition due to its informative nature and educational aspects, as well as its openness to the public.”

The mini works collected by the Unsung Museum include versions of: ‘Pinkswing Park’, a walled photomontage by Agus Suwage and Davy Linggar, exhibited at the 2005 Jakarta CP Biennale, it was deemed to be blasphemous by Islamic fundamentalists FPI who forced the closure of public access to the work, while demanding prosecution of the artists, and They Gave Evidence exhibited in 2002 in Jakarta by Dadang Christanto, a major ceramic series of standing, naked figures, in their outstretched arms holding the remnants of burnings, drownings, beatings and other human mutilations, victims of oppression, social injustice and political violence.

Also collected are miniatures of a public artwork by Nyoman Nuarta that Islamic organizations protested against stating they were representational of Christian iconography and was consequently dismantled from its site in West Java in 2010. As well, an artwork by Galam Zulkifli that was removed in 2016 from the new Terminal 3 complex at the Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta. Zulkifli’s enormous 200 x 600 cm painting includes iconic figures in the development of the Indonesian nation. Seri Ilusi # The INDONESIA IDEA was taken down in order to avoid a polemic on social media as one of the portraits in the painting featured DN Aidit, the former chairman of the Indonesian Communist Party.

An audience member during the opening of the Unsung Museum at ROH Projects, Jakarta - Photo Credit: Wirya Satya AdenatyaAn audience member during the opening of the Unsung Museum at ROH Projects, Jakarta – Photo Credit/ Wirya Satya Adenatya

“Within conversations surrounding these artworks, the conclusion is often misunderstanding,” Samboh explains. “The arts community considers the dismissal of these artworks were due to some people having misunderstood or failed to understand altogether. In fact, quite often the misunderstandings come not only from those who dismiss these artworks but also from the arts community itself.”

“The Unsung Museum is not an attempt to point out rights and wrongs. In light of democracy, we want to poke people’s awareness on equality of knowledge upon rights and obligations of the various elements in the arts community—within art disciplinary context.”

Along with Samboh the Unsung Museum is initiated by Aliansyah Chaniago, Fajar Abadi RDP, Jim Allen Abel, Julian Abraham ‘Togar’, Maryanto and Tamara Pertamina, while inviting other people, and aspires to continue inviting more people over time. “The Unsung Museum has already received strong public response,” Samboh said. “We are now compiling the feedback, and the topics are being discussed in the hope that we can publish a book on views of our recent democracy through the art publics’ perspective.”

“Our mission is to rekindle discussions about democracy in the Reformation Era with the arts community whilst not closing itself from the involvement of other members of the community.”

An audience member photographs part of the Unsung Museum- Photo by Wirya Satya Adenatya

The Unsung Museum is scheduled to continue in Medan, North Sumatra, and Makassar and Manado in Sulawesi early in 2018.

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Wirya Satya Adenatya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DENPASAR2017 – highlighting the diverse creativity of Denpasar

DENPASAR2017 Group - for caption see emailThe starting journey of DENPASAR2017. 17 participating creatives, together with invited speakers Marlowe Bandem and Ayip Budiman after DENPASAR TALK posed for a group photo to mark the beginning of their DENPASAR2017 exploration.

 

Since its arrival upon the Bali art and design landscape in July 2016, CushCush Gallery (CCG) in Denpasar has injected fresh and exciting energy into the local creative scene. An alternative gallery, with an inspiring and unique program embracing interactions and multidisciplinary creativity via explorations at the intersections of art, design, materiality, techniques and crafts, CCG prioritizes community engagement and learning, along with children’s workshops.

In a city that is becoming a melting pot of Indonesian ethnicity with internationals, highlighted by a thriving youth culture, CCG is making a positive, and much needed contribution to the island’s contemporary art infrastructure. And while Denpasar is rapidly expanding and a new contemporary urban culture is in the making, creative hubs such as CCG feed the growing demand for meeting points that are potent venues for the sharing of ideas and discussion.

Urban Sketchers Bali presentation for DENPASAR2017 Exhibition, Image by R. Horstman Part of the panoramic of watercolours by Urban Sketchers Bali presentation for DenPasar2017 Exhibition

In 2017 CCG facilitates a year round program of exhibitions, residencies, workshops and collaborations that focuses on the development of contemporary art and design experiences in Denpasar and Bali, hosting exchanges between the local and international communities of artists and creatives and Bali.

“This year’s DenPasar2017 is a new and exciting, yearly CCG program that we believe is destined to put Denpasar on the map of the art and design route in Bali,” said CCG’s co-founder Suriawati Qiu. “The exhibition will introduce locally based young artists and creatives with works that speak of Denpasar.”

Marlem Bandem giving a presentation for Denpasar Walk             Marlem Bandem giving a presentation during DenPasar Walk

The DenPasar2017 program of weekly events began 10 June with the Launch of the DenPasar2017 Art & Design Map, and Meet the Artists of DenPasar2017, part 1 (of 2). This was followed by activities such as KitaPoleng & Denpasar Deaf Community dance workshop, led by the brilliant Japanese, Bali-based dancer and choreographer Jasmine Okubo, workshops by the Urban Sketchers Bali Academy, DenPasar Street Talk, with street artists Slinat, Bombdalove and Swoofone, and DesignTalk with Nyoman Miyoga, Fransiska Prihadi, Charlie Hearn and Eva Natasa. The program culminates on 26 August with the presentation of Three Eras of Denpasar by Masuria Sudjana and the silent movie screening of Arsip Bali 1928, narrated by Marlowe Bandem.

The launching of the DENPASAR2017 Art & Design Map spotlighted the first map to highlight city features such as museums and galleries, government and cultural institutions, art and design educational institutions, art and creative communities, artists’ studios, cultural heritage/public spaces/monuments, and the markets within the Denpasar area. The map is endorsed by the Bali Tourism Board, Badan KREATIF Denpasar, and the Denpasar Tourism Promotion Board.

Image by Susanto Sidhi VhisatyaKangen Denpasar – Susanto Sidhi Vhisatya in the DenPasar2017 Exhibition

The Road to DenPasar2017 began in January through an open call, CCG invited artists and creative communities to respond to “Bahasa Pasar” in small 2 dimensional works. Seventeen participants were selected from creative backgrounds including architects, dancers, fashion, jewelry, and graphic designers, photographers, street artists, and fine artists. As an introduction for the selected artists CCG facilitated a “Melali Ke Pasar” (journey to the market), a one-day event consisting of 2 parts: DenPasar Talk and DenPasar Walk, with invited speakers, cultural experts, Marlowe Bandem and Ayip Budiman. Bandem highlighted the importance of the role of documentation through art and other creative means, which is deeply embedded in Bali’s culture.

Invited artists and art communities in the DenPasar2017 Exhibition were prompted to re-think and give meaning to the city that is relevant in today’s society via the theme of the traditional markets, paying homage to the role of the market in the development of Denpasar city. Some of the highlights of the exhibition are the collaborative installation of photographs and short film highlighting the dynamic street art designs by Swoofone, and the Urban Sketchers Bali panoramic group presentation of watercolors depicting Denpasar market scenes.

20170719_151818                            Cover of the DenPasar2017 Art + Design Map

“The overall response to the DenPasar2017 program has been excellent,” said Suriawati, who co-founded CCG with her partner Jindee Chua. “Yesterday’s (5 August) DesignTalk attracted a diverse audience from many creative backgrounds listening to presentations from creatives each with a unique journeys within the fields of interior, landscape, architecture and furniture design.”

DesignTalk, along with landscape designer Nyoman Miyoga featured Fransiska Prihadi, an architect who spends 20% of her time designing architecture and interiors, and the other 80% organizing the Minikino Film Week, a Bali based international annual short film festival, Charlie Hearn, who came to Bali from London on an intuitive urge after the 2008 economic crisis and founded Inspiral Architects. His team now designs resorts, private residences, yoga spaces, and other exciting projects. And furniture designer Eva Natasa started out making a personal array of furniture for her home two years ago, in 2016 her collection ‘Lula’ was exhibited in Italy at Milan Salone Del Mobile.

20170723_091217                       Dadian Ratu – Dian Suri in the DenPasar2017 Exhibition

“Personally I feel these creatives are able to lead their DesignLife journey’s successfully in Bali. Bali is unique, open, embracing and nurturing,” Suriawati said. “Bali has international exposure, while at the same time gives space, comfort and has just the right environment to support creativity.”

DenPasar2017 Exhibition continues until 26 August.

CushCush Gallery (CCG)

Jl. Teuku Umar Gg. Rajawali No.1A Denpasar, Bali

Tel. (62) 361 484558

http://www.cushcushgallery.com

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

Rebirth – Wayan Aris Sarmanta

"Bali Not For Sale - Tangis Amarah Pulau Kecil" Aris Sarmanta. Image R. Horstman           Not For Sale – Tangis Amarah Pulau Kecil Baris, 2016  –  Aris Sarmanta

The genre of Batuan Painting has a unique story within the annals of Balinese art, and is recognized with a special esteem. Enduring the ever-changing sociopolitical, economic climates that shaped the island during the past 90 years, the style has evolved undergoing notable transformations.

The golden era was its infancy, during the 1930’s the Batuan ‘School’ was defined its own unique character, setting it apart from painting developments in Ubud at the time. Often dark and moody sketches in black ink, the compositions were generally dense and crowded, the white paper and canvas set against the compositions deep saturated tones created eye-catching contrasts.

During the 1970’s the style was revolutionized, the works became larger, detailed, dynamic and colourful, highlighted by universal themes. Painters I Made Budi (1943-2016) and I Wayan Bendi (1952-) were the innovators, responsible for the stylistic developments that assisted the genre to become internationally renowned. The second decade of the new millennium has revealed fresh young talent, the fore bringers of another exciting chapter in Batuan painting.

"Tapak Dara - Unity Tapak Dara - Pilar Kebangsaan" Aris Sarmanta. Image Richard Horstman   Tapak Dara – Unity/ Tapak Dara – Pilar Kebangsaan, 2017 – Aris Sarmanta

History reveals that generally the most extraordinary works of Balinese traditional art occur while the artist is still young, with a sense of freedom, and time on their hands. After this marriage, family and cultural commitments take priority. There are also the pressures from the art world – collectors, dealers and gallerists and the money mechanism of market forces.

At twenty-two years of age I Wayan Aris Sarmanta, (b.1995) was the youngest finalist in the 2017 TiTian Prize, an award that honors talent in all genres of Balinese visual art. While his first major group exhibition was in 2013 in Ubud, it was his masterwork Pohon Kehidupan (Tree of Life), painted in 2015 that truly captured local art observer’s attention.

Open 13 May at TiTian Art Space Ubud, REBIRTH, Sarmanta’s premiere solo exhibition showcases his remarkable skills that are a continuation of the tradition of storytelling – the historical fundamental that defines Balinese art. The artist presents nine paintings rich in symbolic meaning, complete with an array of cultural icons that are some of the major visual features. His themes range from the light-hearted, to serious, some works with local and national social, and political references.

"Bulan Cinta (Moon Lovers)" Aris Sarmanta. Image R. Horstman                              Bulan Cinta (Moon Lovers) – Aris Sarmanta

Sarmanta explores a full gamut of colours out side of cultural conventions. He discovers hues through the complex and time-consuming skill of mixing, and then, according to traditional techniques he builds up the colour strength, layer-upon-layer. He adopts fresh colours; metallic bronze, grey, silver and gold adding potent, and shining aesthetic contrasts.

He experiments with and combines iconography from the centuries old Kamasan religious paintings, along with interpretations of rerajahan drawings. The special symbolic talismans imbibed with mysterious powers that may never be reproduced exactly, unless for ritual and sacred purposes. Together many elements combine to bring exciting new dimensions to his Sarmanta’s paintings, revealing a talent that defies his years.

Pohon Kehidupan, a detailed execution of a traditional work with his modern conceptual adaptations is divided into two equal halves, symbolizing both the earthly and heavenly realms. It emphasizes local philosophies that highlight duality, and that life is a complex inter-relationship between positive and negative forces. Visual and philosophical equilibrium is beautifully achieved in this composition that reveals the core principle of Balinese traditional aesthetics – balance and harmony – also the fundamentals to the Balinese way of life. The painting consumed one year of Sarmanta’s time to complete.

"Pohon Kehidupan" Wayan Aris Sasmanta, 2015, Image R. Horstman Acrylic on Canvas, 90x115cm.      Not For Sale – Tangis Amarah Pulau Kecil Baris, 2016 – Aris Sarmanta

History reveals the dilemma of tradition meeting with modernity, and the island’s natural environment and culture being threatened with development. Featuring a Balinese boy warrior (the Baris dancer) expressing both sadness and anger, his headdress depicts a scene of traditional Bali, while an emblem upon his chest reads “Sold Out”. In the foreground two small figures stand in opposition, one a Balinese man with a sign stating “Not For Sale”, the other a satirical character representing a businessman, in a suit and tie holding a brief case, complete with the facial features of a rat.

During his youth the budding artists was trained by his grandfather I Wayan Regug (d.2017), a member of the famous 1930’s Ubud based association the Pita Maha. In recent years, however Sarmanta has been a ‘beneficiary’ of the new Baturlangan Artists Collective of Batuan. Defining the new model of Balinese collectives that are contributing to the current era of renewal of traditional art, Baturlangan’s strong leadership style has a clear vision and mission. This is not only windfall for its members like Sarmanta, yet also for the future generations, via their program of regular workshops for school children.

Bulan Cinta (Moon Lovers) 2016, reveals Sarmanta’s confidence to expose his intimate side. Imagination fuses with memories of personal love experiences in a composition depicting heaven and earth, and featuring two young lovers floating about in various romantic situations. Planets, stars and asteroids, along with objects that combine traditional iconography fill the cosmic scenario, while metallic colours truly bring the painting to life.

Dewa's Pet (ink, tea & coffee on paper)                     Dewa’s Pet (ink, coffee & tea on paper) – Aris Sarmanta

Although young, Sarmanta has developed a strong social conscience. He cites social media as a powerful tool keeping him informed of important local and global events that impact the current social and political landscape. Tapak Dara – Unity/ Tapak Dara – Pilar Kebangsaan 2017, is a landmark work that reveals the extent of the artist’s awareness, along with his ability to combine his feelings into a composition that is relevant to all Indonesians.

Upon a brown background a large white plus sign is the prominent visual structure. It is the Balinese Hindu symbol for the spirit of unity, also of equilibrium, eternity and sustainability. It signifies the four pillars upon which the Indonesian national motto of Bhinneka Tunngal Ika, (Unity in Diversity) are founded. Sarmanta prompts us that the forefathers of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) have laid out four supporting concepts to create national unity, even though there is great diversity within the country.

Reincarnation                      Reincarnation, 2017 – Aris Sarmanta

 

REBIRTH, continuing through until 15 July 2017

TITIañ Art Space

Jalan Bisma, Ubud, Bali

Open 10 am – 7 pm
Ph: +62822-14-400-200
www.TitianArtSpace.com

Words & Images: Richard Horstman
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Indonesian Modern Art: the Painting Collection of the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Indonesia – Senandang Ibu Pertiwi

headpic_orig                         The National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta

The 2016 inaugural presentation of the Painting Collection of the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Indonesia, 17/71, Goresan Juang Kemerdekaan (The Brushstrokes of the Independence Struggle),  2-30 August at the National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, highlighted the relevance of art and culture to the nation. Officially opened on 17th August by the current Indonesian President Joko Widodo, on the 71st anniversary of the proclamation of independence, the exhibition featured 28 paintings from the collection of over 3000 works assembled by Indonesia’s founding father President Sukarno.

It  featured scenes of the independence struggle by Indonesian maestros such as Affandi, Sudjojono and Raden Saleh alongside pictures of iconic Indonesia by painters such as Srihadi, Rudolf Bonnet and Walter Spies. The painting collection hangs in all six of the Presidential Palaces in Java and Bali.

20170811_135559          Nyi Roro Kidul (Queen of the South Seas) 1950 – Basoeki Abdullah

20170811_140437                         Lelang Ikan (Fish Auction) – Itji Tarmizi

Following on from last year’s historic event which attracted over 30,000 visitors to the National Gallery, the second edition: Senandang Ibu Pertiwi (Songs of the Mother Land) open 2 -30 August as part of the 72nd anniversary celebrations of Indonesian independence. It showcased 48 works by 44  artists from the 19th and 20th centuries with a variety of themes including landscapes, tradition, mythology and religion.

The son of an aristocratic Javanese schoolteacher and his high caste Balinese wife Sukarno was born in Surabaya, East Java, in 1901. From 1921-26 he studied at the Institute of Technology in Bandung,  West Java, graduating as an engineer, focusing on architecture. As the founding father and first President of the Republic of Indonesia, a position retained for almost 21 years, Sukarno was responsible for transforming the physical landscape of the capital city of Jakarta with public art.

1_2_orig“Pribite Nevesti” a painting that depicts a traditional Russian wedding by Russian artist Egorovick Makowsky.

Sukarno was an art lover and a great supporter of Indonesian modern art and Balinese traditional art amassing huge collections. While he enjoyed close relationships with many  artists he was also a talented painter. During his presidencey art was seen as a tool to help build the spirit and character of the nation.

Pribite Nevesti is the first painting that greets visitors upon entry into the foyer of the National Gallery. Painted by Russian artist Egorovick Makowsky (1839-1915) it is believed to be more than 125 years old, and depicts traditional Russian wedding. The painting was given to Sukarno as a gift during his visit to Russia by the leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev. It was exhibited at the Kremlin in Moscow before being brought to the Bogor State Palace in West Java and put on display.

A01_DSCN4907 CRW_9464_Basoeki Abdullah_Pemandangan Flores        Pantai Flores (On the Shores of Flores Island) 1942 – Basoeki Abdullah

20170811_140513              Keluarga Nelayan (Fisherman’s Family) 1950 – Renato Cristiano

Entering the display room the first theme is Nature’s Diversity and features a  variety of  landscape paintings, twelve in number, that immortalize the dramtic and beautiful scenary of Indonesia.  One of the highlights is Pantai Flores (On the Shores of Flores Island) 1942, by Basoeki Abdullah, the painting was originally a watercolor on paper by Sukarno, that was replicated into an oil on canvas work on request by Sukarno. The scene of the beautiful Flores landscape was captured  while he was exiled on the remote Ende Island between 1934 – 38 , sentenced by the Dutch East Indies Colonial Government.

Another highlight was Harimau Minum (Drinking Tiger) 1863 by the father of Javanese modernism Raden Saleh (1811-1880) who after living in Europe for 20 years studying with various european artist, became a portrait painter for the aristracy. The painting portrays a mystical atmosphere that is rich in symbolism and depicts a tiger drinking from a river.

20170909_100327                 Harimau Minum (Drinking Tiger) 1863 – Raden Saleh

20170811_110652                 Works dispalyed within the theme of Nature’s Diversity

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The collection of works themed Mythology and Religion offer insights into the historic and cultural influences that have evolved throughout the country over the centuries helping to define Indonesia.

According Senandang Ibu Pertiwi  curators Asikin Hasan, Amir Sidharta, Mikke Susanto and Sally Texania, the exhibtion catalogue: “The archipelago is not only a region that has numerous myths containing mystical and anthropological values, but also a locus that has created elements appropriated by almost all of the major religions in the world. The major kingdoms that prospered in Java, Sumatra, and other large islands are a melting pot for teachings whose artefacts we can still find today.”

Arguably the most iconic painting  within the mythology theme is Nyi Roro Kidul (Queen of the South Seas) 1950 by Basoeki Abdullah, a story that is often described in paintings. In Yogyakarta, there is a widely known story about Nyi Roro Kidul, who is depicted as a beautiful woman and ruler of the South Coast and seas. The myth describes that Kidul is found of the colour green, so the local people and careful not to wear this colour when they venture out into the southern ocean for fear of being taken by the Queen of the South Seas.

20170811_135321                       Offering to the Gods – Gusti Ketut Kobot

20170811_140233                                         Theo Meier

20170811_135453                                   Ida Bagus Made Poleng

20170811_135530

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

Nyoman Gunarsa (1944 – 2017) One of Bali’s Poineering Modernist

335-maestro_lukis_nyoman_gunarsa_meninggal_dunia_dok_youtube-696x341             RIP Nyoman Gunarsa – One of Bali’s pioneering modern artist

With the recent passing of Balinese artist Nyoman Gunarsa on the 10th September 2017 an important chapter of Balinese art comes to a close. His legacy as an artist, art lecturer, art collective leader and museum owner, however, will be long lasting. Born in Klungkung, East Bali in 1944, Gunarsa was the first post war Balinese artist to rise to national prominence. His contribution to the development of Balinese art as one of the pioneering modern expressionist painters was in the exploration of form, rather than the narrative.

Gunarsa’s energetic style of applying paint to canvas with spontaneous, gestural brushstrokes was likened by some to a musical conductor, and he was affectionately known as the maestro. Raised nearby to the village of Kamasan, which during the 16th – 20th centuries was the epicenter of Balinese Classical art, Gunarsa was renowned for his dedication to the art of his forefathers. Academically trained, he quickly matured as a realism painter, yet in the 1980’s his fresh approach to depicting the characters from the Wayang Kulit shadow puppet theater broke new aesthetic grounds in Balinese art.

nyoman gunarsa, 2006 water color on paper. 115x161cm.Barong Dance,Gunarsa’s dynamic paintings emphasized the energy and movement that typified Balinese performance and ceremony.

The foundation of Balinese art is drawing. The strictly governed rules and techniques that characterize the Classical style begin with the sketching of the composition, the drawing of the fine black ink outlines of all visual information, and the coloring in of figures, forms and motifs. Originally these were collective works completed by a group of artists, as a communal offering of gratitude to the Gods. The application of color involved controlled brushstrokes, layered until the desired results are achieved – a brushwork technique akin to drawing, or penciling in the colorful hues.

Gunarsa’s signature style was an adaptation from western art, in which the individual’s innovative ideas, emotions and energy are omnipotent. Freedom and power of expressive, often minimal brushstrokes defined his visual approach. Gunarsa captured a fresh sense of dynamism in his interpretations of iconic scenarios from the Balinese Hindu legends, along with his revolutionary method of capturing traditional ceremony and performance, especially beautiful women dancing. Fusing his cultural knowledge with elements of expressionism and abstract painting immediately set his work apart from that of his contemporaries.

21557832_10155665667584420_7440780080362454562_n

Colorful, pulsating movement and vitality categorize Balinese ceremony, performance and dance. This has been a source of inspiration for artists over many generations, yet never had a painter captured the seen, and unseen elements of energy, with Gunarsa’s colorful vibrancy. Form along with the decorative elements of Balinese Classical painting took on wonderful new life, and an exciting, newfound match for the unique, real visual spectacle was born.

As an art lecturer at Yogyakarta’s ASRI (Academi Seni Rupa Indonesia) during the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s Gunarsa was a catalyst to great change. He shared his vast knowledge and enthusiasm with a new, young generation of Balinese artists, the first to venture outside of their cultural structures and restraints, to be academically trained in Central Java. These were the formative days of Balinese contemporary art. Via their fresh approach to exploration and expression using new and unusual media they transformed Balinese philosophies, rituals and symbols into an exciting new visual language.

Gunarsa(DK)

Gunarsa helped establish Indonesia’s longest running artist collective, Sanggar Dewata Indonesia, SDI (Workshop of the Gods) in 1970, inviting his Balinese students to form the new association. SDI grew to create a social collective to coordinate artistic activities, exhibitions and organize debates on art outside the institutional teaching framework. It offered its members freedom to collaborate and create without having to fear being labeled as supporters of certain political parties, during a highly politicized era of Indonesian history.

While the influential 1936 – 1945 Pita Maha artists collective redefined Balinese traditional art with modern aesthetics for the burgeoning tourist market, SDI set about redefining from the artist’s perspective based on the search for new ideas, self-expression, and national identity. This new art movement laid the foundations for the future, while inspiring many young artist to study in Yogyakarta, and Balinese contemporary art evolved to reveal its own distinct ‘voice’ in world art, while spawning generations of talented artists.

Sketch in black ink- Gunarsa

During the 1980’s – 1990’s Gunarsa and others such as Wianta, Sika, Djirna and Erawan enjoyed national and international success. Gunarsa opened the Museum of Contemporary Indonesian Painting in Yogyakarta in 1989. His next milestone was in 1994 when the Nyoman Gunarsa Museum of Classical Painting opened next to his residence in Klungkung. In the 3-storey venue he combined his own works with Classical paintings from the 17th – 19th centuries. Dedicated to the preservation of this unique art form Gunarsa acquired scarce works, including ones painted on rare ulantaga bark paper.

Artifacts, stone and woodcarvings, traditional furniture, masks, sculptures and a collection of sacred ceremonial kris add to the historical significance of his museum. In August 2017 the Indonesian President Joko Widodo attended an official reception at the museum in Gunarsa’s honor. As an international, multi award winning artist Gunarsa held solo exhibitions in more than ten foreign countries.

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A landmark celebration of Balinese art was held from July – October 2012 at Gunarsa’s museum, The First International Festival of Classical Balinese Painting. The festival included works from collections of seven other countries, along with the participation of some of the world’s leading foreign authorities on Balinese Classical art. “Classical Balinese paintings have been admired world wide since the European society first became acquainted with the East in the 15th century,” said Gunarsa. “And since then other countries have searched out these masterpieces to enrich their cultural references because of the extraordinary implied messages, philosophies, and counsels about the life of the Balinese.”

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Words: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the SELFIE PROJECT – Kenyut’s artisitic exploration into popular culture

Participant in "I Love Me - the Selfie Project"                              A participant in the Selfie Project

We are living in the era of pop culture selfie mania. Technology and smartphones have democratized visual self expression, with social media and imaging apps allowing us to constantly ‘curate’ our digital presence, enhancing our obsession with our perfect self.

The Century of The Self, the landmark 2002 documentary series by British filmmaker Adam Curtis focuses upon the work of Austrian psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), his daughter Anna, and his American nephew Edward Bernays. Freud was responsible for changing our perception of the mind and its workings.

A devotee of his uncle’s work, Bernays was the first to use psychological techniques in a new field of marketing he labelled Public Relations. He went on to establish a hugely influential PR consultancy in New York City in the 1920’s that was to have an unprecedented impact on western civilization.

Children participate in "I Love Me - the Selfie Project" Image Richard HorstmanChildren participate in the Selfie Project during a workshop on contemporary art by Kenyut at Tepi Sawah Festival, Ubud.

“This series is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy,” Curtis says in his introduction to Episode One. “Bernays showed corporations how they can make people want things they didn’t need by linking mass-produced goods to their inner desires. By satisfying one’s inner selfish desires people became happy and docile. This was the start of the all consuming self, which has come to dominate the world today.”

In recent years the selfie has entered the sphere of social themes for Indonesian contemporary artists. During Jogja Art Weeks (JAW), a month-long plethora of art activities held through the months of May – June, 2017 in Yogyakarta, there were two presentations based on this theme. In Selfie Frame, collective showings by Indonesian and Polish artists, decorated frames were arranged throughout an exhibition space and visitors were invited to pose within them, and then post their selfies onto social media.

Popular young artist Oky Rey Montha, (b.1986, Yogyakarta), exhibited In Frame We Trust, 2017, at ArtJog10. He prompted the audience to engage with his installation by sitting on a toilet and taking a selfie in front of his paintings that parodied the selfie as a ridiculous act. The artists contributed nothing fresh to the critical discourse about this phenomenon, prioritizing fun experiences while appearing to utilize the opportunity simply as an attempt to “cash in”.

I Love Me - the Selfir Project by Djunaidi Kenyut                       I Love Me – the Selfie Project at Laramona, Ubud

East Javanese, Bali based artist Djunaidi Kenyut, however, takes a vastly different approach with his art project, I love Me – the Selfie Project. In his ongoing venture in community engagement beginning early this year, Kenyut randomly seeks out people and asks them to be participants by drawing their image onto a small piece of mirror with a marker pen. The image he later engraves permanently onto the glass.

“People without artistic experience often feel intimidated when I ask them to partake,” Kenyut said. “So I introduce this exercise to them in a fun, non-confrontational way with the theme drawing is easy.” The artist’s goal is to amass 2000 of these individual images and exhibit them in Surabaya, along with presenting a workshop to children at the school he attended in the city, during his childhood.

From 29 April for one month, Kenyut exhibited over 200 of these self-portraits in I Love Me – the Selfie Project, at Laramona, Ubud. Featuring an array of fascinating, often humorous manually recorded images, the exhibition opening was a unique gathering where the project participant’s creations were the focus of interest.

Participant of "I Love Me - the Selfie Project" Image Kenyut                            A participant in the Selfie Project

Kenyut continued his engagement with the public at Tepi Sawah Festival, in Pejeng, Ubud 3-4 June, a new grass-roots community celebration of music, performance and creativity, highlighted by children’s educational programs on topics including environmental awareness and sustainability. He presented a workshop to children introducing the concept of contemporary art making and involving them in the Selfie Project. The group of twenty boys and girls delighted in the opportunity to participate in a communal work by drawing their reflections upon a large mirror.

During his one-on-one interactions, Kenyut learns about the character of the participants. “For some, the task of drawing their reflection is easy, while for others it’s difficult because they are afraid of their self-appearance,” he said. “In the mirror, they tend to see one of two things, and then chose to either imitate their true reflection or create an ideal image of the self. Some people focus on the creative process, while others focus on the results.”

“When people become hesitant I encourage them, and if they are not happy with the result it can be erased, and they can try again,” he said. During this process, Kenyut carefully prompts them to look into the mirror and engage with their reflection, to look beyond the physical, and to love and accept who they are. This helps to stimulate their creative process. “Simulating one’s self-image evokes a sense of self- confidence,” Kenyut said.

Kenyut during his presentation to children of "I Love Me - the Selfie Project" at Tepi Sawah Festival. Image Richard HorstmanKenyut demonstrates the selfie technique to children at Rumah Apik, during the Tepi Sawah Festival.

“I believe selfies to be narcissistic behavior – a desire to love one’s self excessively. The addiction we witness on social media is an empty expression constantly being repeated, reflecting people’s unbalanced psychological state. The selfie addicts look happy, but on the inside, they are not,” Kenyut said.

What effect is this addiction having upon our society? Has the selfie reduced life to a popularity contest, driven by the external myth of beauty and the need to compare ourselves with others, governed by likes, Instagram followers and Facebook friends? The ancient Egyptians understood the relevance of distinguishing and connecting with the self. Within the inner sanctum of the Luxor Temple on the east bank of the Nile River, a proverb states, “Man, know thyself, and you are going to know the gods”.

I Love Me – the Selfie Project encourages people to reflect upon their inner worlds. This, Kenyut believes, is the key to the most powerful door of all. Contemporary artists increasingly play essential roles within the positive development of modern society. They challenge our understanding of ourselves and help others to see things differently and to learn about the world. Importantly, they shine light on issues that need to be individually and collectively addressed for the sake of a sustainable, more peaceful and loving world.

The Exhibition "I Love Me - the Selfie Project" at Laramona, Ubud. Image Merio Falindra            the Selfie Project at Laramona, Ubud – Image Merio Falindra

https://www.facebook.com/djunaidi.kenyut

Words & Images: Richard Horstman & Merio Falindra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infusing iconography from two worlds “Italian-Indonesian Artist” Filippo Sciascia

"Expat Boat" Filippo Scia scia, Size 280 x 190 cm Oil And Gesso On Canvas 2013. image courtsey of the Artist.                             Expat Boat, 2013 – Filippo Sciascia

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.

“I realize now my works have become more sincere,” says Filippo. “They reveal where I have come from, and where I am now. I can never feel completely comfortable, however, and my works are never perfect. An overwhelming force continually urges me on to strive for more. Intuitively I leave my works open, open to my creative development, and open to the future.”

Filippo Sciascia 'Crown Size" 145 x 130 cm Oil And Gesso On Canvas 2014. Image courtsey of the artist.                           Crown Size, 2014 – Filippo Sciascia

Filippo’s association with Bali began via a collaborative design project of the Gaya Fusion Gallery in Sayan, Ubud in 1998. He exhibited regularly and curated events at Gaya while becoming a key part of its artistic direction helping distinguish Gaya as one of the leading avant-garde galleries in Indonesia. From then on he worked on art projects both locally and internationally, across S. E Asia, China, in New York City and in Italy.

“I am a lover of philosophy and psychology and these sciences are the driving energy behind my art,” says the artist. “My paintings involve research into both archaeological and anthropological subjects and experimentation with media in my eternal journey to reveal authentic creations themed upon human evolution.”

"Lumina Mense" Filippo Sciascia, Size 205 x 165 cm Mixed Media 2012. Image courtsey of the Artist                                 Lumina Mense, 2012 – Filippo Sciascia

Filippo admits to having a growing relationship with Asia since he was a child, now aged 48, his artistic voyage has taken shape while oscillating between three extremely diverse worlds; Sicily, Bali and N.Y.C.

Working within the mediums of painting, sculpture and installations, and video art, Filippo’s passion for photography has greatly impacted upon his work. During the past decade he has explored the use of various mediums along with oil paint to create highly textured surfaces which have become a unique and characteristic feature of his paintings.

Often combining monochromatic photographic images layered upon the canvas’ surface, to which he applies layers of medium, fractured lines and textures appear akin to arid landscapes in states of decay, emphasizing a essential fundamental of his works. ”My works always appear unfinished accentuating that all matter is in a continual, never- ending process of change.”

Mendut Size 205 x 165 cm Oil And Bamboo Mounted On Wood 2014                              Mendut, 2014 – Filippo Sciascia

Mysterious elements within Filippo’s paintings often mesmerize the observer, while at the same time having the uncanny ability to subdue the mind into sense of longing. The tension of heavy tonal aesthetics juxtaposed against white or soft colors, for example, emphasize duality along with the aura and majestic essence of light. “We perceive all life through light,” he says. “Therefore it is a vital conceptual and visual feature of my work as light is the quintessential source of universal inter dimensional intelligence from which springs forth all life.”

Born in 1972 in Palma Di Montechiaro, Italy, in 1983 Filippo moved to New York and in 1985 to Trieste, Italy where he attended the Institute Art of Nordio, followed by studying at the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze, Florence. Acutely aware of modern cultures’ obsession with the image, Filippo’s works are a pictorial meeting ground, highlighting the relationship, while blurring the line between the disciplines of photography and digital imaging technology. Consequently, the results challenge the conventional practice of painting.

Trinacria Size 250 x 200 cm Oil And Gesso And Shells On Canvas 2014                             Trinacria, 2014 – Filippo Sciascia

Religious symbols, historical cultural icons, figurative forms, vehicles of mass trans migration and other worldly imagery fuse with abstract elements in compositions void of literal meaning that are rich in allegory and metaphors, and designed to question our notions of reality.

“Its not my vision anymore, I don’t have a desire to make paintings. Rather, I see my work as a collection of notes akin to diaries about my quest for the greater meaning of life.”

Filippo Sciascia, image by Richard Horstman                             Filippo Sciascia, 2014, Ubud

 

 

Filippo Sciascia, Lumina Chlorophylliana, 2016                     Lumina Chorophylliana, 2016 – Filippo Sciascia

BEN_0165-1Rosetta, 2016 – Filippo Sciascia. Exhibited at OFCA International, Yogyakarta

Rosetta, 2016, Exhibited at OFCA International, Yogyakarta                             Rosetta, 2016 at OFCA International

Lumina Araidica No 2, 2016

                        Lumina Araidica, 2016 – Filippo Sciascia

http://www.filipposciascia.com

 

Words by: Richard Horstman