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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Words: Richard Horstman