Monthly Archives: July 2017

The Cosmic Worlds of Visionary Balinese Artist Putu Wirantawan

Putu Wirantawan 2016

 

Rarely in Bali does the observer have the opportunity to experience art of such a unique and “other worldly” quality as created Balinese contemporary artist Putu Wirantawan. The fundamental key to Balinese traditional art is drawing, for Wirantawan, however, it serves a different function to that of his artistic forefathers.

About 15 years ago Wirantawan (b.1972 Negara, Jembrana, West Bali) became overwhelmed by what he perceived as a block in his artistic development. Yet, unbeknown to him at the time, he was in the formative stages of creative innovation. Having learned to draw and paint in his youth, actively exhibiting since 1993, and a graduate in Fine Arts from the ISI Yogyakarta 2005, (Indonesian Art Institute), Wirantawan had already become competent in the mediums of oil and acrylic paint, along with water-color to produce figurative and abstract works. Wirantawan, however, had become bored with these genres and wished to break free.

                                         Soulscape II, 2010 – Putu Wirantawan

His solution was to return to the basics of drawing. Wirantawan followed his intuitive urges and focused on spontaneous ideas that evolved into unexplainable sketches. He completed page after page in his sketch pad until eventually the idea blossomed, why not piece together some of these works into larger compositions.

Wirantawan’s process is determined by the flow of imaginative energy between his conscious and subconscious minds. The freedom and flexibility within his technique allows him to arrive at authentic compositions that he believes would be impossible to initially conceive – a powerful creative element had returned to his art along with seemingly endless possibilities to explore.

Working in pencil and ballpoint pen on paper, enhanced with a touch of color Wirantawan draws on the fundamentals of surrealism and abstract art.  “Many of my ideas come from the simplest of objects or from observations of the atmospheric, such as the elements of sunlight, fire, water and smoke,” says Wirantawan. “The elements contain a magic that ignites my imagination and I then transform the shapes I see into something new.”

             Tebaran Energi Sejati, 2008-2012, 9 panels, 2915 x 1260 cm – Putu Wirantawan

“Drawing is a flexible and spontaneous technic, it can be done wherever and whenever, and is not affected by the material drying quickly or still being wet. Drawing nurtures new spirit that enables me to feel free to explore my flowing ideas,” Wirantawan said. “Drawing is soul therapy for the mental burdens resulting from challenges in daily life.”

Often described as a visionary Balinese artist, Wirantawan’s works invite the observer into an abstract world of geometric structures that appear like futuristic cities, galactic landscapes and vast sanctums in the outer most reaches of the cosmos. While his work is truly contemporary and free of traditional Balinese aesthetics and the orthodox approach, there is a deep relationship to the Balinese Hindu philosophical universal view.

Initially, Wirantawan’s works appear almost cryptic and strange, yet they mysteriously radiate a warmth with an unexplainable fascination to the eye. The core structural content of his work is based on the principles of sacred geometry, in which arrangements of lines within harmonic proportions produce systems and symbols that resonate with the subconscious mind.

                                Gugusan Citra Batin, 1236011, 2011 – Putu Wirantawan

Wirantawan often utilizes the circle, which is nature’s perfect symbol, appearing like floating disks, planets and glowing orbs with auras radiating light. “Geometry is the essence and structure of all natural shapes on earth and in the solar system.   All cycles of life and natural phenomena follow a repetitive circular order of birth, death and then rebirth,” he said.

The geometrical symbols Wirantawan uses are governed by a mathematical ratio known as the Golden Ratio, first devised by the ancient Greek mathematicians defining an invisible order that regulates the 3 dimensional proportions of the earth plane. These harmonic proportions were used in the design of sacred buildings in ancient and renaissance architecture to produce a spiritual energy that is believed to facilitate connectivity with a higher universal intelligence.

The coloration of Wirantawan’s works contains the most basic of all visual dualities – black and its interrelationship with the color white. The impact of color psychology, the advancing nature of the white upon black creates dramatic depth of field. Some imagery simply morphs from light to dark and flows in and out of discernible surrealistic forms.

Wirantawan has won a series of awards and honors, including nomination as one of the 10 best Indonesian artists in 2000 Philip Morris Art Awards, as well as being a finalist in the International Triennial “Print and Drawing” in Bangkok, Thailand 2008 and again in 2012.

Blissful Line, Wirantawan’s 2015 solo exhibition at the Tony Raka Art Gallery in Ubud, featured hundreds of his sketches on papers covering the gallery’s walls, the focal point of attraction, however, was his extraordinary, and new venture into installation. Gugusan Energi Alam Batin (the Configuration of the Natural Energy of the Soul), 606 x 246 x 312 cm.  Within the context of contemporary Balinese art Wirantawan has developed a dynamic individual style, both beautiful and compelling, that clearly stands alone.

IMGP9421                           Gugusan Energi Alam Batin – Putu Wirantawan

IMGP9400                             Sketches by Putu Wirantawan

IMGP9397

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

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Reviewing ART|JOG|10

"Fashion As A Weapon" Hendra 'Blankon' Priyadhani. Image Richard Horstman             Fashion As A Weapon, 2017 – Hendra “Blangkon” Priyadhani

How may we define Indonesian art?

Unlike other nations, Indonesia is without an international standard museum as a foundation through which its distinct art narratives and identity may be imparted internationally, and locally. We can, however, reference a different platform ART|JOG, the art fair that supports artists over galleries. Celebrating this year its tenth edition, it has grown into an icon, presenting the ‘voice’ of Indonesian contemporary art diversity to the global audience.

ART|JOG|10 Changing Perspective opened with a limited preview 19 May, at the Jogja National Museum (JNM), Yogyakarta, officiated by GKR Mangkubumi, the eldest child of Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono. Annually the event attracts additional foreign visitors, this year there were more international art industry insiders, many expressing ideas about future collaborations.

Mulyana Mogus "Silent Prayers"                         Silent Prayers, 2017 – Mulyana Mogus

Running parallel with Jogja Art Weeks, a month-long abundance of events set throughout the Special Regency, and now in its second year, (another organizational feat by Heri Pemad Art Management), ART|JOG is a fixture on the international art map, a boon for cultural tourism in Central Java.

“The combination of an art fair founded for artists by an artist, hosted at the Jogja National Museum, over a relaxed time frame with daily performances and artist interactivity against a backdrop of the uniquely engaging energy of the Yogyakarta arts community is highly inspiring in a world where art fair fatigue is prevalent,” said artists, art historian, curator, gallerist and collector Jane Walker, who is London and Singapore based, also on her first visit to the fair.

ART|JOG|10’s Open Call Application granted fifteen artists eligibility, while invited artists numbered 58 of a total of 73. One of the most enjoyable features of its format is the freedom to observe works without any presence/pressure of sales, gallery staff, and infrastructure.

J Aryadhitya Pramuhendra - Holy Lamb               Holy Lamb, 2017 – J Aryahitya Pramuhendra

Both local and foreign, emerging and established artists exhibit side-by-side over 3 floors. The JNM’s design of alternative shaped showrooms offers possibilities for varying art encounters. Artists granted individual space, who understood how to capitalize upon this creating intimate art experiences, were generally the most memorable.

A giant batik parasol depicting the sky spans the ceiling and a mural rendered in clay revealing order and disorder are the two prominent features of Seti Legu’s installation, Universal Syndrome. Observers are immersed within an intriguing reconstruction of opposing positive and negative forces – the world according to Javanese cosmology – where human and environmental exploitation contrasts with ideology, religion and materialism; the modern world in conflict with the past. Legu sits and reads poetry aloud, while a traditionally attired elderly musician completes the distinctive ambience.

Invited Chinese artist Geng Xue presents a 13-minute animation, Mr Sea. Her two characters, set within a surreal forest landscape are all made from porcelain. In this extraordinarily sensitive tale, that takes the art form to wonderful innovative heights, breath-taking beauty and tragedy go hand-in-hand. This is a mesmerizing, emotional journey.

"Mr. Sea" Geng Xue, 13 minute porcelain animation. Image Richard Horstman                                Mr. Sea, 2014 – Geng Xue

Syagini Ratna Wulan’s Chromatic Chimera, and Chromatic Myth 1,2&3 together create a tangible atmosphere. Her ‘gloomy’ skyscapes feature tiny colored ‘figures’ floating seemingly without purpose. A hanging geometric form projected with colored light creates beautiful patterns up into a corner, its energetic distinctions, married with her painted compositions create a potent, mysterious abstract experience. While other artists exhibit abstract works, many fail to excite, Wulan’s imagination, however fully engages our senses via the subtle powers of suggestion.

Season In The Abyss, Jim Allen Abel’s commemorative installation honoring 102 people lost in 2007 on an Adam Air flight from Surabaya, East Java to Manado is thought provoking, and ultimately touching. At front a display case presents facts and details including archive photos. Within the darkened space the installation merges elements, projected images, and flashing lights reflect upon mirrors from the ceiling to the floor, and wall. The experience is intriguing and upsetting, yet beautiful as well. Such a thematic is bold, revealing artistic maturity.

ArtJog 10 Merchandise Project - Wearable Art. Scarf by Radi Arwinda, Image by Richard Horstman       ArtJog 10 Merchandise Project – Wearable Art, Scarf by Radi Arwinda

Angki Purbandono collaborated with adventure traveller/actor and advocate for the preservation of Indonesia’s endangered Sumatran elephant, Nicholas Saputra, to make a documentary describing the alarming decline of this specie. Post Jungle – Tangkahan Project introduces an alternative story, in a visual art language aimed to incite the public’s curiosity and concern towards grave Indonesian environmental issues.

Floating Eyes, the commissioned work by Wedhar Riyadi of giant eyeballs floating in water is spectacular. Positioned at the front façade of JNM, evening time it contrasts wonderfully against the white building and the night sky, in the presence of the new, honorary R.J Katamsi statue, flanked by majestic banyan trees. The work, however, lacks local iconography.

Some other works of note include J Aryadhitya Pramuhendra’s Holy Lamb, Mulyana Mogus’ beguiling visual world, Silent Prayers, Agung Prabowo’s linocut reduction print on handmade paper, Study of Convex and Concave by M.C Escher 1955, and Hendra “Blangkon” Priyadhani’s, Fashion As A Weapon. Recipients of this year’s Young Artists Award, a program open to artists under 33 years in appreciation of artistic endeavour are Bagus Pandega and Syaiful Garibaldi.

Indonesian artists, including Wedhar Riyadi, along with art lovers, with "Floating Eyes" JNM. Image Richard HorstmanIndonesian artists, including Wedhar Riyadi, center, along with art lovers, with “Floating Eyes”, Riyadi’s commissioned work.

The popular Fringe Program, headlined by the Curator’s Tour, Meet The Artists, and the ASRI Historical Tour, enhanced the public’s engagement. This year’s new Merchandise Project presents selected local creative communities and artists to showcase their signature works. The strong line-up of Daily Performances including performance art, music, dance, fashion shows and theatre, featured well-known artists Melati Suryodharmo, Garin Nugroho and Rahayu Supanggah, Bimo Wiwohatmo and Astri Kusuma Wardani.

Post preview consensus was, however, the quality of art was down from 2016. “The works were less innovative and less challenging this year compared to last,” said art critic Jean Couteau. “While the local component was minor, the visual and symbolic language is global.”

A deacade of ART|JOG is a huge distinction. Such an event faces great challenges, both internal and external. The vision of Heri Pemad, along with the vigor of Heri Pemad Art Management deserves enormous credit. Indonesia, and the global art world please take note!

20170519_130530                        Universal Syndrome, 2017 – Seti Legu

20170519_125340                             Angki Purbandono, 2017

20170519_131058                Situ Ciburuy; Museum Plan, 2017  – Aliansyah Chaniago

20170519_132125                  Season In The Abyss, 2017 – Jim Allen Abel

20170519_134058                  On the Way, 2017 – “SurantoKenyang

 

ART|JOG|10

19 May – 19 June 2017

Jogja National Museum

Jalan Prof. Ki Amri Yahya No. 1, Yogyakarta

www.artjog.co.id

Words & Images: Richard Horstman