Monthly Archives: April 2018

A lens on the mysterious – Windee Winata

17349626_10209059632832607_6493271523895940897_o                                                Image by Windee Winata

 

Bali is an extraordinary visual experience, equalled by few other locations on earth. From the spectacular, shimmering landscapes, to the architectual and sculpturally magnificent structures and monuments, the grandeur of festivals and ceremonies, and the grace of the Balinese. It is vibrant and rich in photogenic subjects that incite wonder and euphoria, that continually seduces strangers, the experienced visitor, and expats alike.

There is, however, another essential element that few photographers confidently express, a mysterious realm that is not visible, but certainly can be felt. According to the ancient Balinese beliefs of sekala – niskala, we live equally in two worlds – the visible or conscious world sekala, and the invisible or psychic world niskala. Indonesian photographer Windee Winata’s serene landscape images capture the veiled dynamic of a unique life force, and arouse contemplation of the one of the most compelling aspects of the Island of the Gods.

19388435_10209811917719259_8115866998175820987_o                                                Image by Windee Winata

“Excited about an upcoming trip to Egypt, Greece & Turkey, I bought my first film SLR camera in 1996,” says Winata, who at the time was studying automotive engineering at the Technical University of Berlin. The camera became an immediate fixture to his body and he indulged in his newfound passion, while temporarily neglecting his studies.

“Married with a secure position at the Mercedes-Benz Technology Centre in Sindelfingen, even before the final exam of my degree, life was good. The arrival of my first child then dictated photography had to take the back seat,” says Winata, who was born in Denpasar in 1974. “Returning to Indonesia thinking Bali would be a nicer environment for our daughter to grow up, I concentrated my hobby into a profession, and with my wife established the PhotoFactory, a wedding photography business in Denpasar.”

29872510_10211990003690047_3534173479682265435_o                                                 Image by Windee Winata

“Cutting a long story short, one thousand plus clients, success, and years later I began to suffer from depression. Intuitively I rediscovered the joy of creativity and began focusing on fine art photography.”

Less is more is born from the simple aesthetic design values of Zen Buddhism – the Japanese philosophy states that things are left imperfect to allow the mind’s eye to make the space complete. Within Winata’s landscapes the compositions are stripped to the barest of design elements, often predominated by a blue-grey monochrome mist – appearing to visibly pulsate. The sparse iconography may include distant temple structures, mountains or palm trees, the outlines seemingly echoing within a shadowy haze.

29060330_10211844218565510_6090354740303961588_o                                               Image by Windee Winata

Space is the dominant feature, characterized by abstract voids that overflow with ambience – evocative and serene. Within this realm we access deeper levels of consciousness, and temporarily our minds are set free. Creating an interlude within the blur of lineal time, Winata freezes the moment – transforming it into the eternal.

“I long for simplicity in life, and this is reflected in my photographs.”

“The locations I choose to photograph are a consequences of my need to escape, and be alone – a personal journey of solitude that is my safe haven. I gravitate to airy, beautiful places that seem to bypass my brain and resonate with my heart.”

20246444_10210120804521236_1588455552162941195_n                                                  Image by Windee Winata

Of his technique Winata says, “The images are captured with a single long exposure which is unpredictable, yet I bask in the feeling that I cannot fully control the outcome. The images I love seem to only emerge when the universe takes over. The process feels more like a fulfilling collaboration. The results often surprise and delight.”

My experience of Winata’s images is thrilling, and indulgent. With senses fully engaged the power of suggestion kicks in – I revel in the unseen. Bali is unique and somehow gifts us with greater awareness and insight, which I thoroughly entertain. For me, however, the invisible world is not overwhelmed by the mysterious, as I fill it with the gods and deities of the Balinese Hindu pantheon, along with an abundance of fantastic imaginings, and wonderful possibilities.

29060106_10211852018440502_1566899207596044322_o                                                Image by Windee Winata

“Being a wedding photographer has given me high mileage, which helps when doing my fine art work,” Winata says. “While they are very different disciplines, when I click the shutter button, I’m transported to a happy place. Wedding is exciting, but fine art, to me, is how I live my life.”

“My works are the way I connect with the unknown. When I’m out there, it feels like a union, or as a Balinese priest once said to me when viewing my images: “The small universe meets the big universe.” The outcome is the image – it’s never about the visible setting, but rather the spirit.”

17436133_10209139494389096_3344828269058569652_o                                                   Image by Windee Winata

28061495_10211594030270959_7481044953276066991_o                                                Image by Windee Winata

 

Instagram @windeewinata

 

Words: Richard Horstman

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Bali’s street art maverick Julien Thorax

 

IMG_3344                                             Julien Thorax

 

Bali is a rich and unique optical feast. Yet the ominous visual pollution of billboards and advertising, unchecked development and urban sprawl, traffic, fumes, and idle trash makes for an uber serious contrast. Street Art, however is radically transforming the urban landscape of the island. Resonating out from once lifeless edifices, vibrant and alluring images capture our attention, and ignite the imagination. Street art beautifies, informs, inspires, and confronts, while momentarily gifting our sensitivities some vital relief.

Street art fanatic and collector Julien Thorax grew up in Switzerland and then worked across Europe in the corporate world until 2015 when he uprooted and exited for Bali. Owner of the urban art gallery and art supplies store ALLCAPS in Canggu, Julien is the founder of the Tropica Bali Street Art Festival (the urban culture, street art and music event held in Canggu July 2016 & 2017). He is also one of the organizers of the wildly successful new addition to Indonesia’s leading international art fair Art Stage Jakarta 2017 – Off The Wall Jakarta: Europe – ASEAN. Set within 3000 square meters in the Sheraton Grand Jakarta Gandaria City Hotel, Off The Wall Jakarta paired some of Europe’s hottest street artists along with budding ASEAN talent, injecting some urgently needed pizzazz into the exhausted art fair model.

Art by midaskid                                                   art by midaskid

A new urban youth culture has quickly evolved and is now thriving on Bali. The meeting of the art & design, surf, graffiti, mural and hipster communities into a new local/international subculture – its catalyst is the street art scene. LifeasArtAsia corners the prime mover behind Bali’s burgeoning Street Art scene – Julien Thorax:

LAA: Pease share a little about your mission?

JT: Firstly, I want support some of the local artists to make them more visible on the global street art scene, while making Bali a happening destination for graffiti and street artists from around the world. Via ALLCAPS I want to establish an internationally recognized urban art gallery and community space. My endeavor is that within 3-5 years the Tropica Bali Street Art Festival will be the biggest International Street Art and Graffiti Festival in Southeast Asia.

I also want to show local people that graffiti is not always vandalism but can be a beautiful form of modern art, along with utilizing murals and events to spotlight environmental issues, or to support NGOs.

DCIM101GOPROGOPR5850.                                         Allcapsstore & art space in Canggu

LAA: What was the idea behind creating the Bali StreetArt website?

JT:  I wanted to help to connect all the local people and communities involved in “Urban Art”, the mural “komunitas” from Denpasar, the graffiti artists, and the stencil artists, who were more or less all working independently from each other. Graffiti boys hanging out with graffiti boys, stencil artists working alone, mural artists staying within their communities in Denpasar. I tried, and succeeded into bringing them under one banner.

Next was to include the international artists visiting Bali. For me, Bali StreetArt is all the “Urban Art” created on the walls of Bali, irrespective of the artist’s origin (Balinese, Javanese, Australian, French, whatever), this is what we achieved with Tropica Festival, among others. And ALLCAPS has become a central meeting point for all urban art artists, and fans.

The side effect is that many of these artists, with their different backgrounds and various creative friends and communities are bringing a lot of other sub or alternative cultures into the movement; musicians, DJs, tattoo artists, skaters etc. All feel confortable coming to ALLCAPS, or to our events because they are sure to meet some of their friends and have a good time. This was happening before I arrived, but we are key into making it bigger and more visible.

DCIM101GOPROGOPR5854.                                                       Allcaps

LAA: Is the Bali street art scene an art movement, or a social movement?

JT: This is more an art movement at the moment that is slowly becoming a social movement. Yet this will take time.

LAA: What role is social media playing in this urban art development?

JT: Social media plays a key role, especially in a developing country like Indonesia where the majority of people use smartphones. Instagram is popular because it is easy to use, to connect, and to share. Street art and graffiti artists and fans are making big use of this application. This is directly influencing the way people paint and create murals.

Until recently artists painted murals only in “visible”, prime locations. Nowadays they are keen to paint anywhere, as long as they can get a good “Instagram shot”. They don’t really care if the wall will be seen, or the mural is going to stay up for years. With Instagram they can share instantly to the multitude of global followers. Bali gets visibility and interest on the global scene because of social media due to the unique images we post, such as murals on the beach and in the middle of rice paddies.

27992857_735606626647128_7980862004421731372_o    Allcapsstore – Bali’s premiere graffitit and street art supply center & art space

29872441_765503400324117_7393250604400613416_o                       Some of the friendly, professional staff at Allcapsstore

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https://balistreetart.org/

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Courtesy Allcaps