Monthly Archives: October 2019

Posthumous tribute to Balinese artist Sukari a highlight of Jogja Art Weeks

"Dialog" 2005 - Nyoman Sukari, 150 x 250cm, oil on canvas. Image Richard Horstman                                   Dialog, 2000 – Nyoman Sukari

 

Balinese Hindu ritual is a fascinating and potent fundamental of a distinct traditional culture that, through its philosophies seeks to embrace a universal sense of harmony between all people, the environment and the divine. It incorporates a belief system that places equal emphasis on both the physical and non-physical aspects of the world and the dualistic nature of life.

In the compelling finale to the opening ceremony of Trajectory: Posthumous Solo Exhibition of I Nyoman Sukari, 26 July 2019 at Taman Budaya Yogyakarta (TBY), Yogyakarta, a display of ceremonial ritual set a unique and electrifying atmosphere that continued throughout the evening. Ni Nyoman Aryaningsih, the widow of the late and renowned painter, accompanied by a gamelan ensemble and a traditional flute, sang the Bramara Ngisep Sari mantra. In this sacred practice, that included a special dance performance by Aryaningsih and family members, the presentation of offerings and incense, Sukari’s spirit was called to return from the heavens to the earthly plane in order to witness the exhibition.

Audience at TBY during Sukari opening - Image Richard HorstmanThe audience at TBY during the opening of Trajectory: Posthumous Solo Exhibition of I Nyoman Sukari.

 

One hundred and thirty-eight of Sukari’s works, 50 oil paintings, 13 pen drawings on canvas, 29 watercolour and acrylics on paper, 35 pencil sketches on paper and 11 mixed media works on carton from the private collections of Dr Oei Hong Djien, Lin Che Wei, and Aryaningsih went on display at TBY. This monumental and practically designed presentation, which included a timeline of significant data and photos set over 50 meters of wall space, took Sarasvati Art Management three years to organize. It is held in conjunction with Jogja Art Weeks (JAW) – a two-month-long program of exhibitions and events conducted throughout Central Java in support of Indonesia’s leading contemporary art festival ArtJog MMXIX Common Space, open 24 July – 24 August at Jogja National Museum.

Beginning from his school days SMSR (1986-1990) until his final years of creativity in 2009, the collaboration between Sarasvati Art Management, OHD Museum, the Sanggar Dewata Indonesia (SDI) art collective, and Aryaningsih, features works spanning Sukari’s entire, award-winning career. It is set out chronologically from his school years to art college at the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) Yogyakarta, the art collective Spirit ‘90 era, his career peak in 2002 – 2003, his solo exhibition in Gajah Gallery Singapore, and then the final stages of his career in 2008 – 2009.

Nyoman Sukari self portrait in ink on paper circa? Image Richard Horstman                        Self-portrait, ink on paper by Nyoman Sukari

 

Symbolically layered with meaning, and loaded with atmospheric energy, Sukari’s paintings are a meeting point between the sekala and niskala – the physical and non-physical worlds according to the Balinese philosophies. Curated by Suwarno Wisetrotomo and Gede Arya Sucitra, lecturers at ISI Yogyakarta, where Sukari was an outstanding student, Trajectory highlights the three defining creative periods of his career.

“In considering and understanding the creativity and philosophy in Sukari’s paintings it is necessary to know who he was, where he came from, and what his social-cultural environment was. What his cultural experience was, why he painted, and what he painted,” writes Arya Sucitra in the exhibition catalogue. The seventh of nine children, born 6 July 1968 in the remote village of Ngis, Manggis, Karangasem, East Bali, Sukari grew up to become accomplished in traditional music playing gamelan, and the suling flute, as well as dancing, singing. Traditional Balinese wisdom and values were the foundations of how he lived his life within his family, community, and artistic contexts.

Sukari Saat Melukis                       Nyoman Sukari at work in his Yogyakarta studio

 

“Sukari created works that departed from the traditional arts of his forefathers with a ‘new’ technical approach – expressionism, freeing himself from the details, yet still being able to place the mystical atmosphere within his works,” continues Arya Sucitra. “Working in Yogya, where he lived and studied from 1991 – 1995, gave him the opportunity to reread and explore the space between tradition and modernity, between the old and the new, and between those who were close to the niskala.”

A character of many contradictions Sukari had the distinction of having a sold out show at the Spirit ‘90 exhibition at Purna Budaya Yogyakarta when he was a student at ISI Yogyakarta. In a rare artistic journey, at the beginning of his career his works were priced highly, then at the end of his career, due to lack of market popularity, his works were priced low. A visionary and versatile artist, along with being a crucial art provocateur, and art community leader, during the exhibitions of the collective Spirit ‘90 in 1994 & 1995 Sukari’s paintings were partly responsible for the Indonesian art market boom beginning at the campus level. The artist chose to, however, distance himself from the chaos of the boom that continued on until 2000. At times he refused to sell his works to art collectors.

"Orang Gila" 2000 - Nyoman Sukari, 150 x 200 cm, oil on cnvas. Image Richard Horstman                               Orang Gila, 2000 – Nyoman Sukari

 

Highly expressive with dynamic brushstrokes, Sukari’s oil paintings are powerful insights from the darker angels of his psyche. Black and greys, golden browns, touches of white and red to achieve dramatic contrasts, his compositions are often a collision of imagery and non-descript forms. Many of his works feature menacing eyes and faces gazing out from swirling masses of energy. Immediately confronting, these works are not for the faint-hearted.

Sukari’s narratives vary from the cultural, mythological and the surreal, to his reflections upon Indonesia’s social and political upheaval during the finale of President Suharto’s New Order Regime, observations and contemplations about life, mortality, and his spirituality. Just a few of his awards include the 1993 ISI Yogyakarta best painting, the 1994 Affandi Adi Karya Art Award for best painting, and in 2000 the Lempad Prize from Sanggar Dewata Indonesia (SDI).

Exhibition co-curator Gede Arya Sucitra discussing Sukari's pen on canvas compositions - Image Richard HorstmanExhibition cocurator Arya Sucitra during a discussion about the watercolour paintings of Nyoman Sukari

 

While Trajectory’s content is dominated by darker themes Sukari’s ‘lighter’ sensibilities come to the fore within his works on paper in watercolour, ink and acrylics. His sketches and watercolours on paper and canvas have never been publically exhibited. A few small ink compositions feature minimalistic imagery that appears floating upon the white expanses of paper – here we embrace the gentler essence of the painter.

“The final years of Sukari’s career were his most contemplative and philosophical,” states Arya Sucitra. “His Niskala Drawing Series 2008 – 2009, featuring complex compositions in pen on canvas are an important aesthetic landmark emphasizing his spiritual journey while revealing an undeniable pull for him to become a holy man or priest.”

The works feature forms rendered in horizontal and vertical structures that create distinct relationships with the upper and lower supernatural worlds, along with his own magical iconography derived from the sacred rerajahan symbols, and his ideas about his spiritual responsibilities. Perhaps his finest masterpiece is Menunggu Cuaca, 2008, a stark composition depicting a fisherman waiting for fine weather so that he may return to the ocean. In this symbolic reflection upon patience, Sukari’s reveals his intuitive musings about the closing episode of his life.

Pen sketch on paper by Nyoman Sukari, circa 2008-2009. Image Richard Horstman               Pen drawing on paper, circa 2008 – 2009 by Nyoman Sukari

 

Sukari passed away 12 May 2010 in Bali after battling with a two-year illness. He leaves behind an inspiring legacy underlining his commitment to his family, culture, creative life purpose and building community through the power of art. Trajectory: Posthumous Solo Exhibition of I Nyoman Sukari, which continues through 12 August at TBY, honours one of the true, late masters of Balinese art.

"Trunyan Series" 2007 - Nyoman Sukari. Image Richard Horstman                         Truyan Series, 2007 – Nyoman Sukari

 

"Menunggu Cuaca" 2008 - Nyoman Sukari, 145 x 200cm, oil on canvas. Image Richard Horstman                          Menunggu Cuaca, 2008 – Nyoman Sukari

 

Detail of watercolour composition on paper by Nyoman Sukari , circa 2008 - 2009 - Image Richard Horstman        Detail of watercolour composition on paper, 2007 – Nyoman Sukari

 

"Mantan Pemburu" 2009 - Nyoman Sukari, acrylic on canvas. Image Richard Horstman                          Mantan Pemburu, 2009 – Nyoman Sukari

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

Art activist’s discussion in Bali launches landmark entrepreneurial program for the disabled

Art Actiivists Budi Agung Kuswara and Hanna Madness during the launching of "Ayo Ketemu!" in Sanur 29th July - Image courtesy of KETEMU PROJECTArt Activists Budi Agung Kuswara and Hanna Madness during the launching of “Ayo Ketemu!” in Sanur 29th July

 

Art Has Saved My Life a discussion led by two art activists 29 June at Rumah Sanur Creative Hub in Bali was one of the insightful forums of Ayo Ketemu! (Let’s Meet!) a landmark enterprenurial creative program for Indonesians with mental and physical disabilities.

In the discussion that was the first of three public events presented by Gerakan Kreabilitas, Hanna Madness and Budi Agung Kuswara spoke candidly about their journeys utilizing art as an alternative therapy to positively impact upon their healing processes in relation to personal mental health issues. Structured around nine casual discussion forums, creative hands-on classes, and product presentations Ayo Ketemu! a 4-days and 3-nights residential workshop program ran from 28 June – 1 July 2019 at venues around Denpasar.

“I am here as a survivor because of my art,” said visual artist and mental health activist Hanna Madness who actively campaigns about art and mental health issues in Indonesia. “I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder more recently, however, I began experimenting in 2012 with art to help alleviate the stress and isolation caused by the mistreatment and deteriorating family and school relationships. I had no other choice so I poured my energy into my journal, sketching, painting and writing my thoughts,” said the Jakarta born activist who was named one of the “Top 10 Most Shining Young Indonesian Artists” (2017).

Ella Ritchie (Director & Co-Founder, Intoart UK) and participants during "Pasar Ketemu" evaluation at Rumah Sanur - Image courtesy of KETEMU PROJECTElla Ritchie (Director & Co-Founder, Intoart UK) and participants during “Pasar Ketemu” evaluation at Rumah Sanur

 

“When I was first diagnosed the issue of mental health in Indonesia was still taboo, there is now, however, a huge global momentum exposing the problems of mental health in modern society. My paintings have become my weapon to fight against my mental health issues,” she states.

Budi Agung Kuswara, or “Kabul” as he is known, is an artist and the co-founder of Ketemu Project, an art organization and community art space with a strong social philosophy and international program, located in Bali. In 2017 he initiated the “Schizofriends Art Movement” a community-based psychosocial rehabilitation program with art as the delivery system, devoted to supporting people living with schizophrenia to become active and functional individuals within society.

“Ayo Ketemu! is a nurturing platform for people with disabilities who have already started to create their own art and creative products,” said Kabul. “It is designed so that people with mental and physical disabilities can meet with artists to exchange ideas and viewpoints to help realize possibilities, and with exciting potential for collaboration. The output of this first time project in Indonesia targeting the disabled is highly marketable and export quality products and services.”

Participants of "Ayo Ketemu!" at Sudamal Resort in Sanur Bali - Image courtesy of KETEMU PROJECT             Participants of “Ayo Ketemu!” at Sudamal Resort in Sanur Bali

 

Gerakan Kreabilitas is an initiative movement working in conjunction with Ketemu Project and The Arts Development Company, funded by the British Council of Indonesia through the program of DICE (Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies). “Gerakan Kreabilitas is an initiative sparked by the premise that every individual is creative regardless of their abilities,” said Gerakan Kreabilitas Program Coordinator Rahma Yudi Amartina.

“Kreabilitas is a fusion of the terms “kreatif” and “abilitas” that reflects our vision of combining creative innovations and cultural development with business strategies. For this program we have selected thirty participants from around Indonesia through our Open Call for Participants in the visual arts, visual communication design, product design, craft, and fashion categories.”

"Ayo ketemu!" participants during a creative workshop at Jenggala Ceramics Bali - Image courtesy of KETEMU PROJECT“Ayo ketemu!” participants during a creative workshop at Jenggala Ceramics Bali

 

On 30 June Pasar Ketemu, the second of the open to the public events held at Rumah Sanur was a bazaar space for participants to present their products, ideas or prototypes to a judging panel comprising of Mayun Dewi (Social Enterprise Manager, Ketemu Project), Camelia Harahap (Head of Arts and Creative Industries, British Council Indonesia), Yap Mun Ching (Executive Director, AirAsia Foundation), Slamet Thohari (Lecturer, Researcher & Co-Founder CDSS, Universitas Brawijaya), Ella Ritchie (Director & Co-Founder, Intoart UK) and Baskoro Junianto (Expert & Curator, Badan Ekonomi Kreatif). Visitors to the event were also invited to contribute by voting for the creative enterprises that they believed were the most interesting and inclusive.

The five creative enterprises with the most inclusive ideas, will be receiving seed-funding of IDR 24 millions, incubation and mentorship support for 6 months from July – December 2019 for the development of their products and services, along with marketing and promotion both in Indonesia and globally. The final event of the program and the third event open to the public on 1July was the panel discussion Painting The Future of Creative Economy which explored the topic of a more inclusive arts and creative economy industry for Indonesians with disabilities with the panellists: Paul Smith (Director, British Council Indonesia), Yap Mun Ching (Executive Director, AirAsia Foundation), Baskoro Junianto (Expert & Curator, Badan Ekonomi Kreatif) and Slamet Thohari (Lecturer, Researcher & Co-Founder CDSS, Universitas Brawijaya), moderated by Samantha Tio (Director & Co-Founder, Ketemu Project).

Baskoro Junianto (Expet & Curator, Bekraf) is speaking about the future of creative economy during panel discussion 1July Image coutesy of KETEMU PROJECTBaskoro Junianto (Expet & Curator, Bekraf) is speaking about the future of creative economy during panel discussion 1July

 

“We are happy and grateful to be chosen as one of the selected creative enterprises. We hope that we’ll get a lot of insights and new experiences to contribute to the Indonesian economy by creating social impact creatively,” said the makers of the Surprise Wellness Kit Patricia Thebez from Jakarta and Devi Soewono from Bali, whose purpose is to create collections of products to support mental health sufferers based on different moods. Each product having a distinct response to each emotion.

“We are so delighted and this is unexpected for us,” said Vindy Ariella from Jakarta and Khomsin from Solo, whose project Mental Health Kit was judged as one of the five selected creative enterprises. “We hope that our product can grow in the global market and be useful for many people. Thank you, Gerakan Kreabilitas and Ketemu Project!” Their Mental Health Kit comes in a carry bag and contains a book about mental health, a mindfulness journal, sweater, and aromatherapy candles.

“The event was a great success with a lot of participants having collaboration regardless if they were the selected 5 creative enterprises or not,” stated Amartina. “I am amazed and inspired by all of the participants and their natural creative abilities, along with their powerful sense of self belief.”

Ella Ritchie (Director & Co-Founder, Intoart UK), accompanied by Samantha Tio (Director & Co-Founder, Ketemu Project), while judging at "Pasar Ketemu" Image courtesy of KETEMU PROJECTElla Ritchie (Director & Co-Founder, Intoart UK), accompanied by Samantha Tio (Director & Co-Founder, Ketemu Project), while judging at “Pasar Ketemu”

 

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images Courtesy: Ketemu Project

 

Genevieve Couteau: the French female virtuoso that Bali art historians failed to cite

Huile sur toile le théâtre d'ombres 130-97 encadre                                 Painting by Genevieve Couteau

 

Volumes have been written about the foreign artists who have visited, lived and worked on the island of Bali during the first half of the 20th century. Walter Spies, Rudolf Bonnet and Theo Meier are celebrated icons, while Hofker, Covarrubias and La Mayeur are all praised for their special talents. These artists, however, are all male.

French female artist Genevieve Couteau first visited Bali in 1968 and was immediately fascinated by the island’s lush tropical environment and the rich culture, and immediately set forth exploring and reinterpreting the beauty she perceived. Returning briefly four years later, and again in 1975 when she resided in Ubud for 6 months, she made several other sojourns up until 1984. Even though Couteau’s creativity was phenomenal and she was the only European female artist to visit Bali, she is one important person the art historians have failed to cite.

Balinese priest sketch by Geneieve Couteau                       Sketch of Balinese Priest by Genevieve Couteau

 

Art inspired by post-war Universalism represents the period 1945 -1970. Its ideology is underpinned by a rejection of reality and nationalism – the type of patriotism that prevailed in Europe, the UK and America during the 1930s – 1940s. It emphasized a greater worldview with a focus upon understanding people from other cultures. Asians were seen as offering other, mysterious access to the spiritual realms. It was not the “exotic difference” that mattered – it was the exploring of different types of universal endeavour. The art genre idealized “the other”, while surpassing the prejudices.

Born in Paris in 1924 Couteau was a star graduate from Beaux Arts, the Art College of Nantes-Métropole with a national and international reputation. Her outstanding talent was quickly recognized by the art establishment when she won the Prix Lafont Noir et Blanc (Lafont Black and White Award) in 1952 with her captivating drawings in the surrealism style. She became a noted figure of the Paris art scene aged in her mid thirties.

"Barong Landung" - Geneieve Couteau                                 Barong Landung – Genevieve Couteau

 

It was in the Southeast Asia, however, where Couteau’s creativity ultimately bloomed. Her opportunity arose to travel and experience the treasures of the East first visiting Laos in 1968 during the Vietnam War upon the invitation of the neutralist Prime Minister of the time.

Later that year she ventured to Bali. Both countries had a major impact upon Couteau, the vivid colours and light, the overwhelming sense of the spiritual, and the gentle natured people.

Couteau’s ouvre developed from pencil, charcoal and pastel sketches to oil paintings in subtle colours, or in her dynamic, fauvism inspired palate. Her compositions progressed, some into complex, futuristic works of the universal totality of nature revealing the sparkling cosmos, men and women depicted in harmony, and stunning landscapes with backgrounds of flowing patterns, similar to exotic textiles and batiks. Abstract and surreal elements were always key to the strength of her larger compositional works.

Geneieve Couteau (1925 - 2013)                                         Genevieve Couteau

 

Couteau’s depictions of the Balinese, especially the woman challenged the stereotypes, presenting distinct messages without an agenda. Her woman’s worldview resonated with humanism, was non-sexual, while understanding and accepting dissimilarities and highlighting equality of identity. Couteau reconfigured the visual narrative regarding women who are often misinterpreted or unacknowledged. Her feminine approach never exploited the beauty of a woman’s body.

Her painterly responses to Bali’s potent, unseen worlds are indeed intriguing. What prevailed was her unrivalled ability to capture the ‘spiritual’. Couteau’s magical scenarios and figurations glow with an unusual, yet distinct atmosphere – her otherworldly creatures often gaze out from the canvas with mysterious, shamanic eyes. Some of her impressions of Balinese characters stand alone within a historical descriptive context. In “The Old Lempad” depicting the famous architect and modern art master I Gusti Nyoman Lempad (1862? – 1978), he appears as an alien-like figure, in an after life manifestation. Her portrait of the extraordinary young painter Made Sukada (1945-1982) depicts a face beaming with love, intelligence and light, his glowing eyes reveal the presence of a wise and old soul.

Balinese woman and child - Geneieve Couteau                       Balinese Woman and Child – Genevieve Couteau

 

Attuning with the metaphysical forces and pure potential her work stylistically evolved – transcending into the mystical. Her depictions, real and imagined, of Bali life in her fresh and fascinating manner distinguished her from the acclaimed painters who preceded her, along with her peers, defining her as one of the most outstanding expatriate artists on Bali.

Couteau exhibited extensively from 1960 – 2000, in Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Vietnam, New York and Bali. Her talents extended to writing books and theatre, designing and making sets and costumes for performances. In a tribute to the visionary artist who passed away in Paris in 2013, seventy of Couteau’s works were displayed at the National Gallery of Indonesia, in Jakarta, early in 2018.

Geneieve Couteau                                Painting by Genevieve Couteau

 

Entitled “The Orient and Beyond” her exhibition was a collaboration with Institut Francais Indonesia. Couteau’s works are collected by museums in Paris, Lyon, Berlin, Venice, Bulgaria and one of her beautiful Bali inspired paintings is on permanent exhibition in Ubud at the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA).

Sketch by Geneieve Couteau                             Sketch by Genevieve Couteau

 

Painting by Geneieve Couteau

 

Oil on canvas painting by Geneieve Couteau                                      Paintings by Genevieve Couteau

 

 

Words:     Richard Horstman

Images:   Courtesy of Jean Couteau