Category Archives: Abstract Painting

Bali MegaRupa: a new era in government sponsored art infrastructure development in Bali?

Bali Deputy Governor Cokorda Ace during the opening of Bali Megarupa at ARMA 10 November 2019. Image courtesy Bali MegarupaBali Deputy Governor Cokorda Ace addresses officials in front of a painting by Made Budhiana during the opening of Bali Megarupa at ARMA 10 November 2019. Image courtesy Bali Megarupa

Bali Megarupa, a large-scale exhibition featuring one hundred and three modern and contemporary artist from throughout Bali, came to a close Sunday 10 November 2019.

An ambitious project, organized in a whirlwind three month period, was set over four locations in Gianyar; ARMA, Museum Puri Lukisan, Neka Art Museum and Bentara Budaya Bali. The event could signal a new proactive era in the development of the Bali art infrastructure from the Bali Provincial Government.

The Bali Provincial Government now has two distinct annual art events, the Bali Arts Festival held in Denpasar through June-July, with the objective of the preservation and development of the traditional arts, and Bali Jani Arts Festival for modern and contemporary art recently conducted October-November. Bali Jani is a new initiative of the Cultural Office of Provincial Bali under the leadership of Dr.Wayan Kun Adnayana, translating the vision of the Governor Wayan Koster, namely Nangun Sat Kerthi Loka Bali, dedicated to art and culture. Bali Megarupa is part of the Bali Jani Art Festival that accommodates the existing modern and contemporary artists and art communities.

"Pertarungan" 2019 - Putu Edy Asmara. Exhibited at Neka Art Museum Image Richard Horstman     ‘Pertarungan’ 2019 – Putu Edy Asmara. Exhibited at Neka Art Museum

“Bali Megarupa is a vehicle for the extensive socialization, mediation, and communication about the vision of advancing art in Bali. The event that will continue annually for five years with the dream of becoming a long-term yearly fixture on the Bali art calendar consolidated by Peratuan Daerah (Bali Provincial Law),“ said Kun Adnyana. “The objectives are to make Bali a centre for art, to realize the highest possible achievements for Balinese artists, and artists from outside of Bali, and to increase the creativity and productivity of Balinese artists producing original, and high-quality visual art.”

“This may be achieved by viewing the island as a large art studio emphasizing more collaborative and creative partnerships and increasing the necessary discourses among the artists, observers, thinkers, researchers, journalists, art lovers and stakeholders. One of the many desired outcomes being the improved public appreciation for the latest achievements of the Balinese visual arts,” he said.

During the opening ceremony of Bali Megarupa 10 October 2019 at ARMA, Dr Wayan Kun Adnyana presents the Bali Megarupa exhibition catalog to Bali Deputy Governor Cokorda Ace as ARMA founder Agung Rai looks on. Image coutesy of Bali Megarupa. During the opening ceremony of Bali Megarupa 10 October 2019 at ARMA, Head of the Cultural Office of  Provincial Bali Dr Wayan Kun Adnyana presents the Bali Megarupa exhibition catalogue to Bali Deputy Governor Cokorda Ace as ARMA founder Agung Rai looks on. Image courtesy of Bali Megarupa.

The opening ceremony of Bali Megarupa 10 October at ARMA in Ubud, included the spectacular Gladi Ritus Seni Tarirupabunyi “Kidung Megarupa” a contemporary art performance led by the renowned Nyoman Erawan, supported by a host of performers. ARMA, Puri Lukisan and Neka Museums presented two-dimensional works, while Bentara Budaya displayed both paintings and an array of sculptures and installations.

Some of the many highlights were ‘Ovarium’ 2019, a three-panel work of digital prints on paper by AS Kurnia, ‘Jejak Air,’2019 by Made Djirna, ‘Nafas Hidup’ 2019 revealing new abstract developments by Made Budhiana and Wayan Redika’s hyper-detailed pencil and charcoal work on canvas, ‘Tumbal Nusantara’ 2019 one display at ARMA. ‘Banaspati Raja’ 2019 by Wayan Adi Sucipta, Ari Winata’s ‘Bali Singahmadawa’ 2019, Limit, 2019 Gede Ngurah Pandji, ‘Sang Hyang Baruna’ 2019 by Made Karyana were eye-catching works at Puri Lukisan and ‘Pertarungan’ 2019 by Putu ‘Edy’ Asmara at Neka. ‘You Sit on my Shit’ 2019 by DP Arsa Putra, Putu Wirantawan’s ‘Gugusan Energi Alam Batin 7.3.10.019//’ 2019 and Dewa Rata Yoga’s four and a meter broad canvas ‘Menuju Harapan Baru’ 2019 were noteworthy at Bentara Budaya.

"Bali Singhamdawa" 2019 Nyoman Ari Winata. Image Richard Horstman                           ‘Bali Singhamdawa’ 2019 – Nyoman Ari Winata

Side events of Bali Megarupa were the discussion Gerakan Seni Rupa Bali sebagai Seruan Kesadaran (Bali Fine Arts Movement as a Call for Awareness) featuring speakers namely Nawa Tunggal (Kompas senior journalist), Bambang Bujono (cultural observer) and Dr Wayan Kun Adnyana attended by over 150 people at Neka Art Museum on 11th October, Lintas Media Bebas Rupa 26 October, another artist’s talk at Bentara Budaya this time addressing the public and school children led by Made Kaek with Made Bayak artist & Plasticology, Tjandra Hutama head of the Denpasar Photography association, illustrator Monez, and Kokosaja Video Artist. The closing of Bali MegaRupa featured a workshop conducted by the Baturlangun artist’s collective of Batuan with elementary school children from Batuan, and vocational school teenagers from SMK/SMSR Ubud, in the gardens of Musem Puri Lukisan.

The 2019 appointment of well-known Balinese artist and curator Kun Adnyana as the Head of the Cultural Office of the Province of Bali is significant to the future success of Bali Megarupa. Director of the Creative Team of Bali Megarupa Made Kaek stated, “Pak Kun Adnyana understands the potential of art in Bali and how it is necessary to have an adequate art infrastructure to embrace all existing potential. His role is strategic, and he is familiar with what is needed to build an art ecosystem. He has already proposed a budget for the Bali Jani Art Festival, including Bali Megarupa, in the 2020 regional planning forecasts.”

20191027_160042The art performance held during the opening of Bali Megarupa at ARMA. Image courtesy of Bali Megarupa

“Pak Kun Adnyana has asked the committee to evaluate Bali Megarupa to help determine the community’s satisfaction. There are internal research and a questionnaire that needs to be completed, along with careful planning for 2020. Our budget provision is highly planned, measured and accounted for,” Kaek continued. “Even though the exhibition has closed the public can still enjoy the artworks through the balimegarupa.id website which will develop into a digital gallery and documentation centre for all Balinese art.”

The feedback I have received about Bali Megarupa from various participants has generally been positive, and they are looking forward to the ongoing development of the event. A few comments, however, that the curatorial process needs improving, others questioned the extravagance of the opening ceremony, while some wonder if Megarupa will achieve any real positive outcomes. All agree that Bali Megarupa will benefit from a careful process of evaluation to help bring more real valuable results for stakeholders in the future.

"Menuju Harapan Baru" 2019 Dewa Rata Yoga exhibited at Bentara Budaya Bali. Image Richard Horstman‘Menuju Harapan Baru’ 2019 – Dewa Rata Yoga exhibited at Bentara Budaya Bali

During the closing event, 10 November at Puri Lukisan Kun Adnyana requested Bali Megarupa to embrace all stakeholders in Bali to expand cooperation networks to support this event to be bigger and stronger. “Big ideas will not develop if they are not executed properly through intensive collaborations, as a joint project with a strong vision to deliver tangible and valuable future outcomes that have a real impact,” he said.

Path Forward

 Kun Adnyana has welcomed “artists, observers, thinkers, researchers, journalists, art lovers and stakeholders”, to participate in “collaborative and creative partnerships, expand cooperative networks increasing the necessary discourses” beginning the task of reinvigorating the Bali art infrastructure. The process may start by assessing the art infrastructure, along with questionnaires to the art community and some of the vital infrastructure to determine the current state of where it is now. Defining a clear vision may be the next step, and what is the desired state by the end of the five years and then develop a road map to arrive at the destination.

"Jejak Air" 2019 - Made Djirna exhibited at ARMA. Image Richard Horstman                 ‘Jejak Air’ 2019 – Made Djirna exhibited at ARMA

A distinct feature of art is that it has unique and valuable social capital within this era of massive disruption. Art strengthens communities and improves the well-being of people’s lives and has a distinct transformational, yet underutilized, potency on Bali. A worthwhile task may be to understand what is a sustainable art ecosystem, and then fully explore all of the components of the Bali art ecosystem as it extends internationally. For Kun Adnyana, his team and the stakeholders’ opportunity awaits.

http://www.balimegarupa.id

Nyoman Erawan during the performance of Gladi Ritus Seni Tarirupabunyi "Kidung Megarupa" 10 October at ARMA Image courtesy of MegarupaNyoman Erawan during the performance of Gladi Ritus Seni Tarirupabunyi ‘Kidung Megarupa’ 10 October at ARMA Image courtesy of Bali Megarupa
Gugusan Energi Alam Batin 7.3.10.019 :: 2019 - Putu Wirantawan exhibited at Bentara Budaya Bali. Image Richard HorstmanGugusan Energi Alam Batin 7.3.10.019 // 2019 – Putu Wirantawan exhibited at Bentara Budaya Bali

Words: Richard Horstman

Photos: Courtesy of Bali Megarupa & Richard Horstman

“BALINESE MASTERS” exhibition presents significant insights into the development of Balinese painting

"Essence of Void' 2019 - Wayan Sika, image Richard Horstman                           Essence of Void, 2019 – Wayan Sika

 

Balinese Masters: Aesthetic DNA Trajectories of Balinese Visual Art, an ongoing presentation in Bali of installations, paintings, sculptures, drawings and objects by thirty-four Balinese artists and communities has opened to the delight, as well as the scrutiny of many in the Bali and Indonesian art worlds.

The highly anticipated exhibition, open 25 May at the AB•BC (Art Bali•Bali Collection) Building, Nusa Dua, is the first of a landmark three part annual exhibition series that endevours to define the historical developement of the Balinese visual arts. The AB•BC Building, a purpose built, international standard presentation space established by BEKRAF, the Indonesian Agency of Creative Economy, was opened in October 2018 after two years of planning.

"Mother's Earth's Love" 2018 - Ketut Budiana. Image Richard Horstman                             Mother Earth’s Love, 2018 – Ketut Budiana

 

Balinese art was one of the key Indonesian cultural icons promoted to the global market during the Suharto’s government 1970s development of mass tourism. It’s unique historical and artisitic distinctions have been, however, overshadowed by its commodification which began in the 1930s during the first wave of foreign tourists to visit the island. Balinese art has remained largely unappreciated, while being maligned as tourist, ‘folk art’.

The importance of presenting an international standard exhibition to a global and local audience in Bali, explaining the distinct development and essence of Balinese art can not be overstated. The enormous task bestowed upon respected curator Rifky Effendy from Bandung, West Java, is to capture this as a type of chronological reading so it may be easily comprehended.

"Wajah Wajah Mengambang" 2019 - Made Djirna Photo Richard Horstman                    Wajah Wajan Mengambang, 2019 – Made Djirna

 

Effendy’s curatorial text states: “Through this exhibition we can highlight various aesthetic and artistic achievements of Balinese artists, both [those] who are still residing on the island and those who live outside it. It is an attempt to examine and narrate the practice of creating fine arts in Bali without subscribing to those conventional methods based on categorization, paradigm, art history, or any other ‘constraining’ means.”

An essential communative facet of this exhibition is the accompanying wall texts written by local and international academics, collectors, curators and experts presented along side some of the works explaining certain stylistic developments, along with the impact of influenual art collectives, individuals and events. The significance of studying the paintings along with reading these texts must be emphasized as a guide to help in the understanding of such an enormous and distinctive art history.

"Cili Uang Kepeng" 1995 - I Nyoman Tusan, image R. Horstman                         Cili Uang Kepeng, 1995 – Nyoman Tusan

 

One of the great challenges faced by Effendy, who has been assisted by renowned scholars, experts and artists Agung Rai, Jean Couteau, Hardiman Adiwinata, Edmondo Zanolini, I Made Aswino Aji , Satya Cipta, I Wayan Sujana Sukl and Soemantri Widagdo, was to access master artworks from the definitive 1930 – 1945 era of the influential Pitamaha artist’s collective, and earlier Classical works, from institutions and private art collections. The enormous time and energy required to do this therefore deemed it impossible to begin this three part series at the chronological start of its development. Balinese Masters: Aesthetic DNA Trajectories of Balinese Visual Art, begins its visual description from 1950.

Excellent examples of how Balinese art has evolved aesthetically post 1950s may be seen in Mother Earth’s Love, 2018 by Ketut Budiana who took Balinese painting on his own innovative path by transforming the philosphies behind the Balinese religious and folk tale narratives into a unique visual language. All forms depicted within this gold and Chinese ink on canvas composition are in a continual the process of change – transfroming from the ether into the tiniest of vapors which eventually changes into denser physical matter (Budiana’s figures) and then completes the eternal cycle and returns back into the invisible.

"Cosmic Energy" 2019 - Wayan Karja Image Richard Horstman                          Cosmic Energy, 2019 – Wayan Karja

 

The second signature style of the most critically acclaimed genre of Balinese painting – the Batuan School – is featured in the works by Made Budi and Wayan Bendi. The original style which developed in the 1930s relatively free of outside influences. It involved religious and folk tale themes and others close to the heart and mind of the people’s daily life. Often dark and frigntening, including magic, power and ritual, they were expressed in black ink tones on paper. The Miniaturist School of the 1970s was created by the artists Jata, Rajin and Murtika, Budi’s modern themes, under the influence of American photographer Leonard lueras, introduced beach scenes and surfing.

Bendi went further and introduced politics and his enormous Untitled, 2013 stretches nearly ten meters wide, a composition encompassing a universal perspective, reflecting a modern, bustling Bali with the multi ethnic and religious peoples, of tourists, and the transfromational technologies, side-by-side with scenes of traditional Bali.

"Gugusan Energi Alam Batin 6.14.4.019" 2019 - Putu Wirantawan - photo Richard Horstman       Gugusan Energi Alam Batin 6.14.4.019, 2019 – Putu Wirantawan

 

The poineer of Balinese painting within the modern western framework was I Nyoman Tusan (1933-2002) who was the first to study modern art (1945-1962) at Institute of Technology in Bandung (ITB), West Java and later in Belguim. Cili Uang Kepeng,1995 by the intellectual, lecturer and official typifies his modern approach to Balinese ritual objects. I Nyoman Gunarsa (1949 – 2017) also made important contributions to the modern expressions of Balinese icongraphy taking the static and rigid wayang figurations of the Classical paintings and transforming them into dynamic forms with his modern action style of painting. Unfortunately, his displayed works are not his strongest.

Contemporary art sensibilities mixed with Balinese philosophies, symbols and incongraphy when landmark works were made in the 1970s by the pioneers of the Sanggar Dewata Indonesia (SDI) collective – Made Wianta, Nyoman Erawan and Made Djirna, works from this era were not included, but more recent works are. A complete alternative in the exhibitions aesthetics is Djirna’s commanding installaion of more than two thousand pumice stone carved faces Wajah Wajha Mengambang, 2019 which takes observers into different experiential dimensions. Others recent artists that should be mentioned for their achievements within the development of aesthetics are Gede Mahendra Yasa and Putu Wirantawan. Gugusan Energi Alam Batin 6.14.4.019, 2019, is a fascinating and eye-catching installation of pencil and pen sketches by Wirantawan.

"Aktifas Kehidupan" 1984 Made Budi                         Aktifas Kehidupan, 1984 – Made Budi

 

Balinese painting from the Classical and the new more westernized styles that appeared in the 1930s (the Batuan, Ubud and Sanur Schools being the foremost) is characterized by its story-telling function with the aesthetic features of a graphic-drawing based style of art with the space of the canvas fully occupied with the layering of patternations. The big shift away from this that occurred has been to a modern, non-narrative, non-patterned color based abstract style of painting where abstraction represents Hindu symbolism.

The powerful and beautiful mixed media works by Wayan Sika, one an installation of nine paintings The Essence of the Void, 2019 measuring 600 x 360 cms, and the smaller No Ego, 2019, along with two magnificent pulsating compositions by Wayan Karja, both titled Cosmic Energy, 2019, are very important inclusions and highlight the important shift that has not been clearly underlined in the exhibition. The title of the exhibition may be somewhat of a misnomer, and one may wonder what is the criteria that determines how the participants have been selected, especially some of the younger artists and the art communities. Due to the vast scope of content the presentation would benefit from, upon entry, instructions on how to read the exhibition.

"School of (pre) Raphael, 2018 - Gede Mahendra Yasa Image R. Horstman                     School of (Pre) Raphael, 2018 – Gede Mahendra Yasa

 

Balinese Masters: Aesthetic DNA Trajectories of Balinese Visual Art is a beauitful presentation celebrating this fascinating art form that opens the door to the next eaggerley awaited 2020 exhibition. Continuing through until 14 July 2019, it is essential viewing for those who wish to know more.

Balinese Classical paintings by, from left Mungku Muriati, Mangku Mura, Mangku Kondra & Mangku Nyoman Kondra. Image Richard Horstman‘New’ Balinese Classical paintings by, from left Mungku Muriati, Mangku Mura & Mangku Nyoman Kondra.

 

 

Balinese Masters : Aesthetic DNA Trajectories of Balinese Visual Art

Open daily 11 AM  –  9 PM

AB•BC (Art Bali • Bali Collection) Building

Nusa Dua, Bali

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Richard Horstman & courtesy of HPM, Bali

 

 

 

 

 

Previewing Larasati Jakarta Auction: Pictures of Indonesia 12 May 2019

Lot 627 "Boats at Kusamba" - Affandi Image Courtesy of Larasati                                         Boats at Kusamba – Affandi

 

Sixty-two items of fine art go under the hammer from 2:30 pm Sunday 12 May in the upcoming Pictures of Indonesia auction conducted by Larasati auctioneers at the CSIS Center, Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta.

The sale offers good buying opportunities for beginner and mid level collectors, as well as the seasoned connoisseurs, with lots available in a vast array of media including works in ink on paper, an etching, a charcoal sketch on paper, pastels on paper, watercolours on paper, oil pastel on canvas, oil and acrylic paint paintings on canvas, and sculptures. Genres of art to be auctioned comprise of Indonesian and Balinese modern paintings, contemporary paintings and sculptures, and Balinese modern traditional paintings, including works from the renowned Batuan School of painting – some are pre-war works.

Lot 662 "Mengintip" - I GAK Murniashi Image Courtesy of Larasati                                      Mengintip – I Gak Murniashi

 

Some of the well-known artists whose work appear in the sale are the Indonesian modern master Affandi (1907-1990), Ida Bagus Made Togog (1913-1989) from the Balinese village of Batuan, the famed Dutch colourist of Bali Arie Smit (1919-2016), talented Dutchman Willem Gerard Hofker (1902-1981), Balinese modern master Nyoman Gunarsa (1944-2017), Nashar (1928-1994), the overlooked painter of abstract and abstraction compositions, and the Balinese painter of the unconventional Dewa Putu Mokoh (1935-2010).

For those new to collecting fine art committed research, along with getting advice is essential, while internet databases are a good source of information, especially on prices of recently auctioned works. Auctions are transparent, providing benchmark prices that serve as a guide to how much collectors should be paying. Themed sections of work define the sale, beginning with Indo European featuring lots by noted Dutch artists, and an Indonesian artist, who painted pre-1960’s in the archipelago. While four compositions depict Indonesian coastal, village and city living, Lot 61 Geiderse Kade Amsterdam by Willem Gerard Hofker is a small etching of a canal scenario in Amsterdam that has an estimated price of between Rp. 4 – 6 million.

Lot 649 "A God and many animals in a Forest" - I Griem Image Courtesy of Larasati                              A God and many animals in a Forest – I Griem

 

For new buyers wishing to build their collection, the following works, if purchased within their estimated prices, offer very good buying. Lot 607 Balinese Woman, 1995, is an oil canvas painting by the overlooked American artist and long-term Bali expatriate Symon that has an estimated price of between Rp. 5 – 7 million. Lot 650 Village Life in Bali, is a colourful acrylic on paper scenario of village activity by noted Batuan painter Ida Bagus Putu Padma that has wan estimated value of between Rp. 6 – 8 million.

Two works are from the Pre War Balinese Art & Batuan Style section in the original Batuan ‘Black & White’ style achieved with ink on paper and reflecting some of the philosophies of the critically acclaimed genre. It must be noted that the years 1930 – 1945 are considered the golden years of Balinese painting. Lot 647 A Fight in a Village by Dewa Made Koendel, is a sketch in grey and black ink on paper, 34 x 31cm with an estimated price of Rp. 13 – 18 million, and Lot 649 A God and many animals in a Forest, circa 1936, by I Griem comes with good provenance and has an estimated value of between Rp. 13 – 18 million.

Lot 620 "Pemantasan Barong" - Wayan Meja Image Courtesy of Larasati                                Pementasan Barong – Nyoman Meja

 

The following lots offer good buying as potential investments if prepared to buy and hold the works for at least 10 – 15 years. Lot 630 Setan Mbesan, 2000-2001 by an icon of Indonesian art Nasirun, is a dramatic and colourful 92 x 147cm work with an estimated price of between Rp. 30 – 40 million. Lot 637 Dilarang Melintas #1, 2010 is an oil paint and pastel depiction of a child from the economically marginalised Balinese village of Songan by Bali’s most important painter Gusti Agung Mangu Putra. The work, which comes with an estimated price of between Rp 70 – 100 million, was exhibited in his landmark 2010 exhibition “Teater Rakyat” (People Theatre), at Galeri Nasional Indonesia, Jakarta.

Lot 656 Baruna Hotel Garden and New Queen Bali Restaurant, 2009 is by Dutch painter Paul Husner and comes with an estimated value of between Rp 70 – 90 million, Lot 662 Mengintip, 2002 with an estimated price of between Rp. 20 – 30 million is by Indonesia’s most significant female artist I Gusti Kadek Murniashi (1966-2006), from Bali, whose work was highly unconventional, erotic and violent, while emphasizing an array of women’s issues.

Lot 637 "Dilarang Melintas #1" - Agung Mangu Putra Image Courtesy of Larasati                              Dilarang Melintas #1 – Agung Mangu Putra

 

Highlights of the sale, and of special interest to the connoisseurs are these following three paintings. A beautiful and incredibly detailed composition of the drama and activity of a Balinese Barong dance, Lot 620 Pementasan Barong, 1999 by Nyoman Meja has an estimated price of between Rp. 300 – 350 million. Surprise and delight fill the faces of the children in the foreground, while the background reveals a vibrant wind swept scenario. Pulsating with energy in Affandi’s signature expressionistic style, Lot 627 Boats at Kusamba, 1980, is a 98 x 128cm oil on canvas composition of fishing boats on the beach in East Bali that has an estimated price of between Rp. 1,000 – 1,300 million. This is a rare work revealing the rigor of Affandi’s power late in his career.

Having previously studied modern art in New York Ahmad Sadali (1924-1987) became a leading avant-garde artist in the Indonesian post-war art and developed a distinctive style of his art in abstract patterns that are blended with the themes of spirituality and mysticism of Islam. Lot 644 Bidang dengan Bongkah Emas, 1986 has an estimated price of between Rp. 650 – 850 million, and was purchased by the current owner directly from Sadali.

Lot 644 "Bidang dengan Bongkah Emas" - Ahmad Sadali Image Coutesy of Larasati                            Bidang dengan Bongkah Emas – Ahmad Sadali

 

Lots 638 – 642 are oil on canvas works by the Javanese painter, classical dancer and contemporary dance choreographer from Yogyakarta, Bagong Kussudiardjo (1928-2004). Lot 639 Semar, 1995 by Kussudiardjo has an estimated price of between Rp. 35 – 45 million. Other interesting Balinese paintings in the sale are Lot 615 Aktifitas di Sawah, by Ketut Gelgel, Lot 614 Di Ladang , by Ketut Kebut, Lot 619 Pementasan Calonarang, by Wayan Djudjul (1942-2008) estimated price between Rp 35 – 45 million. Other popular Indonesian artists included in the sale are Kijono, Rusli, Widyat, Jehan and Yudi Sulistyo.

Potential buyers bidding over the phone, absentee bidders or real-time Internet bidders who are unable to attend the previews days or auction are advised to contact Larasati and enquire about the colour reproduction accuracy of the images contained within the online catalogue to ensure that what they wish to purchase can be realistically appraised. The absence of reference to the condition of a lot in the catalogue description does not imply that the lot is free from faults or imperfections, therefore condition reports of the works, outlining the paintings current state and whether it has repairs or over painting, are available upon request.

Lot 647 "A Fight in a Village" Dewa Made Koendel Image Courtesy of Larasati                       A fight in a village – Dewa Made Koendel

 

Provenance, the historical data of the works previous owner/s is also important and is provided. An information guide including before the auction, during the auction and after the auction details, including conditions of business, the bidding process, payment, storage and insurance, and shipping of the work is also available. A buyer’s premium is payable by the buyer of each lot at rate of 22% of the hammer price of the lot.

Open to the public at CSIS Jakarta in Tanah Abang, the auction starts at 2:30 pm Sunday 12 May, while viewing begins from 10:30 am Saturday 11 May. The online catalogue, complete with a guide for prospective buyers is available at: www.larasati.com

Lot 619 "Pementasan Calonarang" - Wayan Djudjul Image Courtesy of Larasati                             Pementasan Barong –  Wayan Djudjul

 

Viewing:
Saturday, 11 May 2019, 10.30 am – 7.30 pm
Sunday,  12 May 2019, 10.30 am – 2 pm

Auction:
Sunday, 12 May 2019, starting at 2.30 pm

Venue:
CSIS Jakarta
Gedung Pakarti Center
Jl. Tanah Abang 3 No.23
Tanah Abang, Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Courtesy of Larasati

 

 

the curious worlds of Balinese painter Galung Wiratmaja

  Tari-persembahan-150x120cm-2019-ac-on-canvas                           Tari  Persembahan, 2019 – Galung Wiratmaja

 

Intrigue and mystery are powerful psychological elements when effectively utilized within a painting. The ability to make subtle suggestions in a composition that inspire curiosity and ignite the observer’s imagination reflects a painter who is in full control of his canvas.

Colour and form are the potent visual fundamentals of a painting that we respond to – they are the fundamentals that inform our conscious and subconscious minds. We then recognize colours and shapes and immediately make associations with objects in our surrounding world. On the deeper, subconscious level, colour and form are distinct vibrational codes that resonate with our inner architecture and core.

Walau-abstrak-teruslah-150x120cm-2016-ac-on-canvas                         Walau Abstrak Teruslah, 2019 – Galung Wiratmaja

 

Balinese modern artist Made Galung Wiratmaja understands how to create captivating paintings – compositions that balance colour with form to catch the eye and incite fascination. Over the past two decades he has explored the abstract, abstraction and figurative expressionistic painting styles. Abstraction paintings reveal a very simple and incomplete depiction of form, abstract compositions, on the other hand, are in descript arrangements of colour and unknown shapes that are without any physical references that we recognize.

I love painting – I find it such a fascinating and inspirational force. Yet a painting is simply some paint applied to a two-dimensional surface, be it a compelling composition of technical mastery, or an expression that requires little time and skill to complete. What sparks my curiosity is how easily our minds are led, and how quickly we believe in the painted illusions that appear before our eyes. As Picasso once said, “Art is a lie, that makes us realize the truth.”

Galung Wiratmaja - AmbangGalung Wiratmaja at ARMA with his paintings in the 2018 exhibition “Ambang Embang”

 

In “Ambang Embang”, a 2018 group exhibition at the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA), in Ubud, Galung exhibited three abstractions of the Lingga, an upright object symbolizing fertility and representing the phallus of the Hindu god Shiva. Entitled “Totem #1,2 & 3” his compositions ‘evolve’ within a sequential series that wonderfully suggest the shoulders and head of the human body. His use of colour, shape and line imply enough decipherable information for our mind to make immediate associations.

“Facing Reality” Galung’s recent solo exhibition, open 5 March – 6 May at The Oberoi, Seminyak and presented by Indonesian Fine Art, features nine figurative expressionistic paintings. In these works the artist combines an array of human figures positioned, mostly, with their backs to the observer, seemingly peering into the colourful abstract backgrounds. His unusual compositions immediately incite appeal, and we wonder what his figures are indeed doing, and what is it the artist wishes to say.

ORLA-(orang-lama)-150x110cm-2106-ac-on-canvas                           ORLA (orang lama), 2016 – Galung Wiratmaja

 

In “Founding Father”, Indonesia’s first President, Sukarno is the focal subject, while one work features a large group of people, and in another appears a Balinese family in traditional attire. What is particularly alluring is that his figures are not facing and addressing the audience. They are in interrelationships with unfamiliar backgrounds and this conjures up within us many different responses.

“I enjoy making compositions that feature mysterious elements and that provoke the audience’s imagination. I want that observers to discover their own interpretations – all readings are valid,” the artist says. “In the compositions depicting Balinese people I make identity statements of what it means to be Balinese, and of the two worlds in which we inhabit.”

Angel-40x50cm-2019-ac-on-canvas1                                      Angel, 2019 – Galung Wiratmaja

 

The paintings reveal two contrasting visual realities according to the Balinese understanding of sekala/niskala – the seen, and unseen worlds. In the realm of sekala is all that is of the physical form, while the niskala is the non-physical, spiritual world consisting of the gods, ancestors and nature spirits. Balance is the key to Galung’s choice of colours that are a mixture of subdued ochre’s, greens, browns and greys that create interesting and unusual contrasts. They are never over powering. “My colours reflect my personality, not too bright, yet not too dark,” he says with a smile.

“Tari Persembahan” (Dance Tribute) depicting four Balinese Legong dancers is an exhibition highlight. The figures Galung generally depicts are stationary, appearing rigid, in a type of silent contemplation, in a departure of style his Legong dancers blend and harmonize within a field of vibrant motion, and the composition has a distinct visual tension.

Totem #1, 2018 Galung Wiratmaja                                    Totem #1, 2018 – Galung Wiratmaja

 

“Often while painting my mind becomes detached from the creative process,” the painter says. “My hand guides the brush without me being conscious and compositions mysteriously appear before my eyes. At times I work with a clear concept in mind, and others times not. The outcomes are always surprising, and harmonic.”

About five years ago Galung’s works really caught my attention. Born in 1972 in Sukawati, GIanyar, he studied Fine Art at Udayana University in Denpasar and started painting at the age of thirteen. To his distinction Galung has succeeded in creating his own signature style. He certainly deserves recognition and increased exposure.

Founding-father-65x80cm-2019-ac-on-canvas2                               Founding Father, 2019 – Galung Wiratmaja

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images courtesy: Richard Horstman & Indonesian Fine Art

 

 

Paradise lost & new frontiers: Gede Mahendra Yasa’s landmark investigation into Balinese painting

"Tamiang" GMY 2011Tamiang, 2011, 150 x 200cm – Gede Mahendra Yasa. Exhibited in “Post Bali”

 

After the fall of President Suharto and the New Order Regime in 1998 Indonesian artists enjoyed new liberties, and their art became increasingly social and political in content. Representing a new generation of the Balinese avant-garde, Gede Mahendra Yasa was inspired by the freedoms of the post refromasi era, and dared to investigate his Balinese roots like no other artist had previously attempted – he questioned the popular ‘narratives’, along with the status quo. What transpired at the beginning of the new millenium has evolved into an ongoing project – a unique, yet essential, exploration into Balinese painting.

Born in 1967 in the island’s former capital of Singaraja, Mahendra Yasa grew up within a ‘multi-cultural’ environment where the Balinese Hindu’s had the freedom to choose a more open interpretation of cultural life. They were not subjected to the religious and cultural structures that were ‘imposed’ within the Gianyar regency during the 20th century, while it was being honed into a pro-Dutch colonial model of a ‘living cultural museum’ to stimulate tourism.

"Priest" GMY 2011Priest, 2011, 150 x 200cm – Gede Mahendra Yasa. Exhibited in “Post Bali”

 

Mahendra Yasa studied architecture and mechanical engineering in Surabaya, East Java from 1986 to 1988, yet he discovered this to be too limiting, being more attracted to the expressive freedoms of painting. He then began his autodidact journey, and an intensive learning into the history and discourses of Western painting.  Between 1998-2002 he formally studied at the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) Denpasar where he analyzed his practical and theoretical Balinese art knowledge.

Bali is generally considered to be exotic, and is stuck in a past cultural era. Balinese art is perceived as secondary, as a craft, and not as a legitimate part of Indonesian modern art history. These issues have arisen due to the dense bias of ethnography and anthropology (orientalist in nature) in determining the understanding of Bali, especially during 1920’s – 1930’s within the ‘golden age’ of Balinese development when Balinese traditional art was shaped as a colonial political tool – and this frustrates Mahendra Yasa.  An atheist, Mahendra Yasa was an avid detractor of the local culture, and took a critical stance to the art practices in Bali. This compelled him to continuously investigate and then seek out new frontiers in Balinese painting, in a career long pursuit into its thematic and aesthetic distinctions.

7 Magnficent Masterpieces #1, 2011, 200x150cm Newspaper Collage chinese ink on canvas7 Magnificent Masterpieces #1, 2011, 200 x 150cm, Newspaper Collage & Chinese Ink on Canvas – Gede Mahendra Yasa. Exhibited in “Post Bali”

 

“My entry point is from the contemporary, but using the traditional identity of painting,” he once said. In Post Bali, his landmark 2014 exhibition at ROH Projects, Jakarta, Mahendra Yasa adopted a unique methodology to other Indonesian contemporary artists, driven by his powerful intellect, and an obsession with painting, he delved into local Balinese issues from a western conceptual art perspective. Painting for the artist is not only about the object – it can function as a philosophical and analytical tool.

Post Bali combined an array of western and Balinese painting styles through which Mahendra Yasa revealed his investigation of the complexities of Balinese painting. He utilized various appropriations in his works that have been internationally recognized as modern or contemporary art masterpieces. The exhibition unfolded with photo-realism paintings from 2010 depicting scenarios of Balinese life. It continued via the acclaimed traditional Batuan narrative style of painting, with miniature photo realistic characters as the code through which he explained key parts of Balinese, Indonesian and Western art techniques and history. Within these works he also explored traditional techniques of making canvases, and Chinese ink painting.

7 Magnificent Masterpieces #2, 2012 Acrylic on canvas 200x150cm7 Magnificent Masterpieces #2, 2012, 200x150cm, Acrylic on Canvas – Gede Mahendra Yasa. Exhibited in “Post Bali”

 

Contemporary Art in Paradise Lost, Mahendra Yasa’s enormous 75 x 300 cm epic which included multiple scenes in the one work, taking the artist over a year to complete, was juxtaposed against his dual panel Pollock-esque abstract expressionist works. Post Bali explored three distinct realizations of Bali through different painting styles and ‘tests’ to what extent it is able to interact with materials and ideas familiar to contemporary art. The exhibition can be read as a chronological progression of his work and represents the start of a project that has now become much larger and more complex in nature. Post Bali has defined Mahendra Yasa as one of the few, truly important Balinese contemporary artists, while confirming his position within Indonesian art history.

"Silver Acrylic Paint on Face #2" GMY 2012 Silver Acrylic Paint on Face, #2, 2012 –  Gede Mahendra Yasa (self-portrait)

 

In early June 2018 the following interview was conducted by Richard Horstman and Gede Mahendra Yasa.

 

RH: Since early 2000 you have been driven by the need to question the popular ‘narratives’ and the status quo within Balinese art.

Why did you begin doing this?

GMY: In 2001, only 3 years after reformation and the fall of the new order regime, Indonesian artist enjoyed new freedoms, and political art came to the fore. For a few decades Sanggar Dewata Indonesia (SDI), Bali’s oldest and most influential collective which began in 1970, held power over the art scene. For me, however, they represented the new order regime, with much of their approach to art continuing on from the Dutch colonial methods. I was determined to change the game here in Bali.

The-Death-of-Gatotkaca. 1500x200. 2013The Death of Gatotkaca, 2014, 150 x 200cm – Gede Mahendra Yasa. Exhibited in “Post Bali”

 

RH: As an art provocateur it was essential to ask important questions in order to be able to move forward, as well as to inspire others to be more analytical and critical. Within the sphere of Indonesian and Balinese art, however, there is no culture of criticism, and such an approach is seen as confrontational. You had to move ‘out of the comfort of your studio’ and into the public forum to be heard.  Was this difficult to do?

GMY: Yes, at the beginning it was very difficult. But slowly the art public accepted my criticism.

RH: The formation of collectives has played an important role, while helping you in the exploration of your ideas. (This first began with the Klinik Seni Taxu. The young artists of Taxu reacted to the institutionalized “authority” over Indonesian art which prevailed during in the 1990’s – 2000. They were driven to promote the development of a Balinese art outside the traditional parameters of Balinese religion and culture and were active between 2001-06 releasing publications and exhibiting. In 2001, as students at the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) Denpasar, the Taxu group received funding from ISI to hold an art event they titled, Mendobrak Hegemoni (Shattering the Hegemony).

"Paradise Lost" GMY Chinese Ink on Kamasan Canvas 2014

Paradise Lost #2, 2014, Chinese Ink on Kamasan Canvas – Gede Mahendra Yasa

 

What occurred was a protest featuring abusive comments in various languages about the commercialization of art. They attacked copies of major artists works and produced effigies of the artists as mummies, posters proclaimed ‘art is dead’. The event shocked both the singled out artists, and the ISI authorities during an era when the pressures of the New Order Regime were still heavy. The protest was of national significance because Bali had become a key site for the formation of ideas about Indonesian art).

Can you explain why the Taxu group came about and what were their aims?

GMY: Bali has traditions like the banjar system of communal organization. I learned from the influence of the foreign artist during the 1930’s – 1940’s (Spies and Bonnet) and Nyoman Ngendon from Batuan, and in wider context from the first Indonesian community based artist groups (PERSAGI & LEKRA). I understood that organizing groups, following in the tradition of making “schools” of artists was a more strategic and quicker way to achieve goals. This belief pushed me to find artistic idioms for the groups to function as a“glue” (Social realism for Klinik Seni Taxu, and abstraction for Nu-Abstract, his latest collective which began in 2017).

"Between Me,You and the Bedpost #2 Mahendra YasaBetween Me, You and the Bedpost #1. 2014, 100 x 163cm – Gede Mahendra Yasa, Exhibited in “Post Bali”

 

RH: More recently the Neo-Pitamaha has been formed. Can you share more about this collective?

GMY: The origins of the Neo-Pitamaha began after my 2011 solo exhibition in Milan, Italy because of problems with my “identity” as a Balinese painter. I began to think a lot about my artistic roots, and then started to explore Balinese painting (focussing on painting from the last century – the Classical style referred to as Kamasan, and the Batuan traditional style). I believed that the Classical and traditional styles had come to a dead-end. And then I challenged myself to contemporize what the academic artists (especially the Yogyakarta Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) alumni) thought was impossible. And I proved them wrong! In 2013 I “assembled” a new group to push this idea further.

RH: Can you share please the ideas behind your series of paintings made between 2012 – 2018 which began with 7 Magnificent Masterpieces #1 & #2, and continues on with Origen’s Gambit?

"Contemporary Art in Paradise Lost" 2012-2014, 300x75 cmContemporary Art in Paradise Lost, 2014, 75 x 300cm – Gede Mahendra Yasa. Exhibited in “Post Bali”

 

GMY: I wanted to contemporize the Batuan painting style emphasizing the full compositions, with no empty spaces. Complete with the dualities and horror, the dense and decorative style – very Balinese. Unlike the Dutch miniatures such as Brueghel, Bosch, for example, who use the linear perspective. I use the bird eye’s view perspective, like the Batuan artists. I then realised that the series could be used for telling stories about art history (Balinese, Indonesian and global art history). My inspirations came from the American painter Mark Tansey, and also the comic genres, such as Marvel and DC Comics, and how they make alternative universes. I wanted to mimic their method to create my own universe – an art history universe.

Remember this miniature epic series has taken 6 years to develop, so many things have happened. This is on going, and in the near future, in the third phase of this series I plan my approach to be more a linguistic or semiotic exploration. I will “illustrate” a lot of “ideas” about imagery, icons, logos and symbols. Here, I have been influenced by Xu Bing a main land Chinese painter.

"Yasa Perburuan Rusa" GMY 2014                        Yasa Perburuan Rusa, 2014 – Gede Mahendra Yasa

 

RH: You have a long and ongoing relationship with abstract painting. In 2017 you formed the collective NU-abstract to explore further Balinese abstraction and the collective will be exhibiting at NADI Gallery in Jakarta in early July. Do you find exploring your feelings within this genre is the perfect creative pursuit while other concepts need certain periods of time to fully develop and to be successfully executed and expressed? Does this help you to achieve a type of ‘balance’?

GMY: Yes, I need to balance my other painting series as they demand too much logic. There is, however, another reason. I formed the NU-abstract group because there are some Islamic fundamentalist art groups (Rumah Warna, Khat, Khilafah art networks) in Yogyakarta, and Hijrah in Bandung, who want to use non-figurative painting as a tool to forbid the making of imagery of “living creatures”. They twist modern abstraction for their own political benefits while intercepting the potentiality of this new Indonesian art trend. I want to stop their ideas of controlling and polluting the Indonesian art world.

"Yasa Spiral Frame" GMY 2014                              Yasa Spiral Frame, 2014 – Gede Mahendra Yasa

 

Mahendra Yasa along with Neo-Pitamaha co-founder Kemal Ezedine set out to strategically impact upon the Indonesian contemporary art world in 2016 by participating in high level exhibitions and art fairs in Bandung, Jakarta and Yogyakarta. Their presence was especially visible during the two international art fairs, Art Stage Jakarta 2016 and 2016 Bazaar Art Jakarta that attracted large national and foreign audiences.

The Neo-Pitamaha have taken their name from the legendary 1936 artists association established in Ubud during a revolutionary period when traditional art was being modernized for the new and expanding international market – the Pitamaha’s oversaw the successful development of this new genre of art that helped communicate the Balinese culture around the world. The Pitamaha was formed by the prince of Ubud Tjokorda Agung Sukawati, Bali’s modern master Gusti Nyoman Lempad, and the expat foreign artists Walter Spies, and Rudolf Bonnet.

"BipolarDemons" GMY 2017, 200x160Bipolar Demons, 2107, 200 x 150cm – Gede Mahendra Yasa. From the NU-abstract series and exhibited in the group exhibition “Celebrating Indonesian Portraiture” at OHD Museum Magelang, Central Java, continuing through until 8 October 2018.

 

With their ideology deeply rooted in the historical development of Balinese art during the past century, and with a new discourse about Balinese art the Neo-Pitamaha reinterpreted this art form from a contemporary art perspective – retaining the principles involved with the techniques and methods. By opening this to new viewpoints they awakened a new spirit and introduced a fresh model of possibilities into Balinese art.

 

After Paradise Lost 2014-2016In May 2016 at Christie’s Hong Kong Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale “After Paradise Lost” (2014) by Gede Mahendra Yasa sold for HKD 1,240,000 (USD 158,000), well above the estimated price of between HKD 350,000 (USD 44,500) – HKD 500,000 (USD 63,500).

 

Origen's Gambit" GMYAt Christie’s Hong Kong Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale November 2017, Gede Mahendra Yasa’s painting “Origen’s Gambit” (2016-2017) realised HKD 1,750,000 (USD 220,000), selling well above the estimated price of HKD 380,000 (USD48,000) – HKD 550,000 (USD70,000).

 

Gede Mahendra Yasa’s painting After Paradise Lost has been selected as one of the 15 finalists in the Signature Art Prize. The award, which is presented every three years, is organized by the Singapore Art Museum and sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Breweries Foundation. The winner will be announced at an award ceremony on June 29, and the works are currently on exhibit from May 25 to Sept. 2 at the National Museum of Singapore.

 

 

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Coutesy of IndoArtNow, Gede Mahendra Yasa & Richard Horstman

Art eccentric – Ida Bagus Alit

Ida Bagus Alit                             The effervescent Ida Bagus Alit

 

The art world adores eccentric characters.

Lurking beneath the exterior of Balinese artist Ida Bagus Alits’ wacky persona is, however, a highly practical, compassionate and intelligent man. These traits meld into an effervescent personality that enchants everyone he meets.

Within the Balinese art world Gus Alit, as he is affectionately known, is a popular and unique figure; painter, sculptor, photographer, event organizer and art collective leader. A member of a well-known Brahmin high caste family in Denpasar, there is an aristocratic air about him, especially when attired in traditional costume and sporting his suave reading glasses. Yet one is not to be intimidated or coy within his presence, Gus Alit is as playful, and as friendly as a kitten.

Gus Alit’s passion for photography has drawn him along two distinctive paths. He is dedicated to documenting Balinese religious ceremonies around the island, capturing rare events, and the unique traditional costumes that characterize separate villages.  He does, however love to experiment with painting techniques upon printed images on canvas, striving to achieve new aesthetic results with his art photography.

Ida Bagus Alit, "No Doubt" 2014.                                No Doubt – Ida Bagus Alit

Grinning happily as he reveals images captured on his iPhone, his ever-ready pocket camera, Gus Alit explains one of the “secrets” of his photographic technique. The photos are of young Balinese women clad in traditional dress, glamorous and alluring – the iconic image of Balinese feminine beauty.

“At first they are shy, some even refuse to be photographed,” he says referring to his initial meetings with the models. “Yet I always win them over with a joke and my humor quickly sets them at ease.”   His photos recount the process of their transition from being restrained and rigid, to being relaxed and glowing in front of the camera. “Its important to make your models feel comfortable in order to capture and allow their inner beauty to shine.”

27797357_1905610429450254_2276016392130748197_o                              The Beautiful Balinese – Ida Bagus Alit

There are often visitors to Griya Satria Art House, Gus Alit’s family’s home on Jalan Veteran, opposite the bird market in Denpasar. They may be friends, family, or new acquaintances, locals and foreigners, all curious to see the collection of art on display set in lush tropical gardens while being enhanced by traditional Balinese architecture.   Recently more and more young couples, brides and grooms in traditional costume, stop by to be photographed by professional photographers, surrounded by Gus Alit’s unusual paintings and sculptures. The consequences are unique momentos that they surely will look back on with pride.

“This is a new era in photography,” Gus Alit says with a cheeky smile stretching from ear to ear.“ They now go from the Bali museum to Griya Satria Art House for their wedding photos.”

Of course Gus Alit jumps into the action and captures the couples in all their glory, as well. Often he will print the photo onto canvas then paint the background in his flamboyant style. If the subject is a friend he may gift them with the work, however many of his subjects upon seeing his creations, request to buy these unique images directly from him.

Ida Bagus Alit, "Friendship" 2011, acrylic on canvas                                   Friendship – Ida Bagus Alit

“What is important is not to copy,” exclaims Gus Alit. “True art must come from the heart.”

As the long serving president of B.I.A.S.A (Bali Indonesia Sculptors Association), he is a driving force in the promotion and preservation of traditional woodcarving, and contemporary sculpture in Bali. I question Gus Alit on the value of art collectives in Bali, which he believes are essential to the development of local art.

“As individuals or groups its important to know our strengths and weaknesses. Through this we will learn the ways and methods to move ahead. Learning is life long education,” he states with a wisdom that almost belies his jovial character. “As the head of B.I.A.S.A I take the time to visit each of the members and discuss with them their challenges and I help to provide solutions. B.I.A.S.A is like a big family to me.” Gus Alit is well versed in the concept of leadership with the heart.

 

IMGP4843                                Sculpture by Ida Bagus Alit

Abstract and figurative wood cravings are a fusion of the rich natural rhythms of the timber intertwined with faces and figures. Although they are not always be beautiful, Gus Alit introduces imaginative possibilities, while adhering to a yin/yang theme. Some of his sculptures he paints in an outrageous manner that none dare to copy.

While contemplating his paintings the observer may wonder what on earth are these creations! Are they the musings of a complete oddball? His large compositions, some canvases measuring over 4 meters in width, each, however, have themes taken from his culture, for example Tri Hita Kirana, the Balinese philosophy of three fold harmony between man, nature and the gods.

Gus Alit’s paintings are as eccentric as is his personality. A fusion of bright colors, figures and forms, they are both surrealistic and dynamic at once. Adaptations from the Wayang Kulit shadow puppet-theater and traditional masks, his figures and faces have evolved into quirky, other worldly creatures. Akin to galactic landscapes that flow across the canvas his compositions express humor while accentuating that art should be fun to create.

IMGP4842                             Painting by Ida Bagus Alit

“To be a real artist you have to be free and strive to create your own works under your own responsibility.”

His C.V lists the exhibitions he has participated in over the past 40 years, numbering well over one hundred. Born in Denpasar 1947, Gus Alit’s works have been displayed in many countries, while his buyers come from every corner of the planet. In 2006 he participated in an artist in residency program, as well as having a solo exhibition at the Vermont Studio Center, USA. A self-taught artist, who regularly travels abroad, his initial childhood inspiration has come from studying his artist father, Ida Bagus Agung.

Watching him chiseling away at a carving, with an eye for detail, while being the picture of focus and determination, his wiry hands and arms are powerful, yet sensitive as well. Gus Alit values the virtues and importance of art and culture above himself, is an asset to the island, and a proud ambassador of the Balinese arts.

IMGP4855                                 Sketches by Ida Bagus Alit

Gus Alit welcomes visitors at Griya Satria Art House,Jalan Veteran, opposite the bird market in Denpasar.

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Ida Bagus Alit, Monika Kiraly & Richard Horstman

 

 

 

 

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