Category Archives: Balinese Contemporary Art

The Art of Pengosekan Village

Ketut Rudi. 2010                             Birds of Lod Tunduh, 2010  – Ketut Rudi

Balinese traditional art is the art of story telling. Its ancient narratives bring to life tales from the sacred Hindu and Buddhist texts, old Balinese and Javanese folklore, and accounts of daily life. Its purpose is to promote harmony within the community via examples of proper moral conduct.

During the past century indigenous art has been revolutionized via the meeting with Western art techniques and ideas into a ‘new’ genre that became known as Balinese modern traditional art. This art form thrived due to the development of new tourist markets, driven initially by the first wave of foreign visitors in the 1930’s, who after holidaying on Bali wished to purchase a memento to bring home. A distinctive feature of Balinese modern traditional art is the different village styles, or ‘schools’ that evolved over time, each with its own individual creative verve.

Cosmic Circle - Dewa Nyoman Batuan                                    Cosmic Circle – Dewa Nyoman Batuan

Stories from the other side of the canvas – both triumphant and tragic – of the artists and the events behind the art have enriched the ‘aura’ of Balinese modern traditional art while endearing a global audience. This is a tale about the art and some of the characters that have distinguished the art from the village of Pengosekan.

Overshadowed by the more famous styles of Ubud, Batuan and Sanur, Pengosekan, one kilometre south of Ubud, has its own art history, complete with unique figures, and signature styles. The most celebrated of all Pengosekan painters is Gusti Ketut Kobot (1917-1999), accredited as one of the leaders of the post-war changes in Balinese paintings, he was also an influential art teacher. Some of Kobot’s finest works are mythological featuring characters from the religious narratives, while he also responsible for creating the prototypes for the scenes of village life that would be ceaselessly imitated for mass production as tourist art.

Gusti Ketut Kobot, "Triwikrama" 1986, Image couresty of Larasati                                 Triwikrama, 1986  –  Gusti Ketut Kobot

Kobot’s renditions of characters that still today are brought to life in the Wayang Kulit shadow puppet theatre are executed with extraordinary attention to compositional balance. According to the Balinese paintings that achieve perfect visual equilibrium indicate the artist’s excellent skills, and his strong connection with the divine. Brahma on Wilmana, Kobot’s painting of the Hindu god of creation riding the monster headed mythical bird Wilmana, on permanent display at the Neka Art Museum in Sanggingan, Ubud is fine example of his talent.

Structured with outer layers of decorative patterns the central characters appear framed and effortlessly poised, Wilmana wears a magic protective poleng (black and white checkered cloth) around the waist to avert harmful forces, since it has positive white and negative black in balance. Kobot is renowned for such depictions, honing them to the height of refinement. He is acknowledged as one of the masters of the original Ubud artist’s cooperative, the Pita Maha that thrived between 1936-1945, helping establish Balinese modern traditional art.

Gusti Ketut Kobot."Scene from Ramayana Story" 50x70cm                         Scene from the Ramayana story  –  Gusti Ketut Kobot

The inhabitants of Pengosekan were predominantly farmers, tending the agricultural fields surrounding their village. In the process of breaking away from the orthodox subject matter that featured in their paintings, the artists began to look outside of the conventions for new creative inspiration, and started paying more attention to nature.

A signature style developed in Pengosekan during the 1960’s featuring images of local flora and fauna painted in fresh pastel colours. At first the artists focussed on depicting bird life set within beautiful scenarios of forests and trees, others then explored nature close-up, their compositions highlighting an array of insects, often grasshoppers or butterflies rendered in great detail.

Pengosekan Style                              Pengosekan fauna and flora style

One of the finest practitioners of the flora and fauna style is Ketut Rudi who was born in Lotonduh, just south of Pengosekan in 1943. His works were commissioned and collected by the second President of Indonesia, Suharto (1921-2008) and hang in the Presidential State Palaces around the country. Rudi often painted at the State Palace in Tampaksiring, Central Bali, while Suharto was on retreat from the nation’s capital city, Jakarta. To ease his mind Suharto would often sit for hours watching Rudi at work.

Another painter, Ketut Liyer (1924-2016) was a local village priest (pemangku) who painted agricultural scenes and the sacred cloth amulets known as rerajahan. Liyer, who was also a paranormal and ‘healer’, shot to international fame via the Hollywood movie Eat, Pray, Love released in 2010 and starring Julia Roberts. Liyer’s paintings occasionally come up for auction at the twice-yearly Larasati Bali art sales held in Ubud.

Dewa Put Mokoh, 2006, Acrylic on canvas 60x90cm.                                      Dewa Putu Mokoh, 2006

Dewa Nyoman Batuan (1939-2013) was an icon within the world of Balinese art. Painter, entrepreneur and artist community visionary, he was graced with an effervescent personality. Batuan had a dream for his village that manifested into the Pengosekan Community of Artists in 1970.  Through his entrepreneurial endeavor he helped establish international markets for the local paintings and was able to contribute enormously for the well-being of the community of poor farmers, many who became painters to supplement their family income. Batuan’s contribution to the development of Balinese modern traditional art was to fuse traditional narratives within the Buddhist structural icon of the mandala, designing compelling, unique, and highly original works.

His older brother, Dewa Putu Mokoh (1934-2010) broke free from the restraints of Balinese art to introduce personal and intimate visual stories of another side of life that was often quirky, lurid, and even taboo. Simplified forms dominated his compositions, a self trained artist, Mokoh’s works boarded on both the modern and contemporary, simplifying and extending the range of images in Balinese art, especially with his close-up focus on intimate scenes.

I GAK MURNIASIH - SEMBAHYANG 104 - AOC - 170 x 100 cm - 2004                                   Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih

Pengosekan became the adopted home for the most important woman artist in Indonesian art history, Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih (1966-2006). Murni came from Tabanan, Central Bali to study with Mokoh. She rose from the life as a child of a farmer, poor and uneducated to the ranks of artistic distinction. Her father sexually abused her at the age of nine. Murni’s minimalist figurative/surrealistic style featured powerful coloration while communicating via the language of the sub conscious. Her outsider art is confrontational, daring and even violent, yet always electrifying. Murni’s work broke significant grounds into the social taboos of gender politics and feminism.

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

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DENPASAR2017 – highlighting the diverse creativity of Denpasar

DENPASAR2017 Group - for caption see emailThe starting journey of DENPASAR2017. 17 participating creatives, together with invited speakers Marlowe Bandem and Ayip Budiman after DENPASAR TALK posed for a group photo to mark the beginning of their DENPASAR2017 exploration.

 

Since its arrival upon the Bali art and design landscape in July 2016, CushCush Gallery (CCG) in Denpasar has injected fresh and exciting energy into the local creative scene. An alternative gallery, with an inspiring and unique program embracing interactions and multidisciplinary creativity via explorations at the intersections of art, design, materiality, techniques and crafts, CCG prioritizes community engagement and learning, along with children’s workshops.

In a city that is becoming a melting pot of Indonesian ethnicity with internationals, highlighted by a thriving youth culture, CCG is making a positive, and much needed contribution to the island’s contemporary art infrastructure. And while Denpasar is rapidly expanding and a new contemporary urban culture is in the making, creative hubs such as CCG feed the growing demand for meeting points that are potent venues for the sharing of ideas and discussion.

Urban Sketchers Bali presentation for DENPASAR2017 Exhibition, Image by R. Horstman Part of the panoramic of watercolours by Urban Sketchers Bali presentation for DenPasar2017 Exhibition

In 2017 CCG facilitates a year round program of exhibitions, residencies, workshops and collaborations that focuses on the development of contemporary art and design experiences in Denpasar and Bali, hosting exchanges between the local and international communities of artists and creatives and Bali.

“This year’s DenPasar2017 is a new and exciting, yearly CCG program that we believe is destined to put Denpasar on the map of the art and design route in Bali,” said CCG’s co-founder Suriawati Qiu. “The exhibition will introduce locally based young artists and creatives with works that speak of Denpasar.”

Marlem Bandem giving a presentation for Denpasar Walk             Marlem Bandem giving a presentation during DenPasar Walk

The DenPasar2017 program of weekly events began 10 June with the Launch of the DenPasar2017 Art & Design Map, and Meet the Artists of DenPasar2017, part 1 (of 2). This was followed by activities such as KitaPoleng & Denpasar Deaf Community dance workshop, led by the brilliant Japanese, Bali-based dancer and choreographer Jasmine Okubo, workshops by the Urban Sketchers Bali Academy, DenPasar Street Talk, with street artists Slinat, Bombdalove and Swoofone, and DesignTalk with Nyoman Miyoga, Fransiska Prihadi, Charlie Hearn and Eva Natasa. The program culminates on 26 August with the presentation of Three Eras of Denpasar by Masuria Sudjana and the silent movie screening of Arsip Bali 1928, narrated by Marlowe Bandem.

The launching of the DENPASAR2017 Art & Design Map spotlighted the first map to highlight city features such as museums and galleries, government and cultural institutions, art and design educational institutions, art and creative communities, artists’ studios, cultural heritage/public spaces/monuments, and the markets within the Denpasar area. The map is endorsed by the Bali Tourism Board, Badan KREATIF Denpasar, and the Denpasar Tourism Promotion Board.

Image by Susanto Sidhi VhisatyaKangen Denpasar – Susanto Sidhi Vhisatya in the DenPasar2017 Exhibition

The Road to DenPasar2017 began in January through an open call, CCG invited artists and creative communities to respond to “Bahasa Pasar” in small 2 dimensional works. Seventeen participants were selected from creative backgrounds including architects, dancers, fashion, jewelry, and graphic designers, photographers, street artists, and fine artists. As an introduction for the selected artists CCG facilitated a “Melali Ke Pasar” (journey to the market), a one-day event consisting of 2 parts: DenPasar Talk and DenPasar Walk, with invited speakers, cultural experts, Marlowe Bandem and Ayip Budiman. Bandem highlighted the importance of the role of documentation through art and other creative means, which is deeply embedded in Bali’s culture.

Invited artists and art communities in the DenPasar2017 Exhibition were prompted to re-think and give meaning to the city that is relevant in today’s society via the theme of the traditional markets, paying homage to the role of the market in the development of Denpasar city. Some of the highlights of the exhibition are the collaborative installation of photographs and short film highlighting the dynamic street art designs by Swoofone, and the Urban Sketchers Bali panoramic group presentation of watercolors depicting Denpasar market scenes.

20170719_151818                            Cover of the DenPasar2017 Art + Design Map

“The overall response to the DenPasar2017 program has been excellent,” said Suriawati, who co-founded CCG with her partner Jindee Chua. “Yesterday’s (5 August) DesignTalk attracted a diverse audience from many creative backgrounds listening to presentations from creatives each with a unique journeys within the fields of interior, landscape, architecture and furniture design.”

DesignTalk, along with landscape designer Nyoman Miyoga featured Fransiska Prihadi, an architect who spends 20% of her time designing architecture and interiors, and the other 80% organizing the Minikino Film Week, a Bali based international annual short film festival, Charlie Hearn, who came to Bali from London on an intuitive urge after the 2008 economic crisis and founded Inspiral Architects. His team now designs resorts, private residences, yoga spaces, and other exciting projects. And furniture designer Eva Natasa started out making a personal array of furniture for her home two years ago, in 2016 her collection ‘Lula’ was exhibited in Italy at Milan Salone Del Mobile.

20170723_091217                       Dadian Ratu – Dian Suri in the DenPasar2017 Exhibition

“Personally I feel these creatives are able to lead their DesignLife journey’s successfully in Bali. Bali is unique, open, embracing and nurturing,” Suriawati said. “Bali has international exposure, while at the same time gives space, comfort and has just the right environment to support creativity.”

DenPasar2017 Exhibition continues until 26 August.

CushCush Gallery (CCG)

Jl. Teuku Umar Gg. Rajawali No.1A Denpasar, Bali

Tel. (62) 361 484558

http://www.cushcushgallery.com

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

Rebirth – Wayan Aris Sarmanta

"Bali Not For Sale - Tangis Amarah Pulau Kecil" Aris Sarmanta. Image R. Horstman           Not For Sale – Tangis Amarah Pulau Kecil Baris, 2016  –  Aris Sarmanta

The genre of Batuan Painting has a unique story within the annals of Balinese art, and is recognized with a special esteem. Enduring the ever-changing sociopolitical, economic climates that shaped the island during the past 90 years, the style has evolved undergoing notable transformations.

The golden era was its infancy, during the 1930’s the Batuan ‘School’ was defined its own unique character, setting it apart from painting developments in Ubud at the time. Often dark and moody sketches in black ink, the compositions were generally dense and crowded, the white paper and canvas set against the compositions deep saturated tones created eye-catching contrasts.

During the 1970’s the style was revolutionized, the works became larger, detailed, dynamic and colourful, highlighted by universal themes. Painters I Made Budi (1943-2016) and I Wayan Bendi (1952-) were the innovators, responsible for the stylistic developments that assisted the genre to become internationally renowned. The second decade of the new millennium has revealed fresh young talent, the fore bringers of another exciting chapter in Batuan painting.

"Tapak Dara - Unity Tapak Dara - Pilar Kebangsaan" Aris Sarmanta. Image Richard Horstman   Tapak Dara – Unity/ Tapak Dara – Pilar Kebangsaan, 2017 – Aris Sarmanta

History reveals that generally the most extraordinary works of Balinese traditional art occur while the artist is still young, with a sense of freedom, and time on their hands. After this marriage, family and cultural commitments take priority. There are also the pressures from the art world – collectors, dealers and gallerists and the money mechanism of market forces.

At twenty-two years of age I Wayan Aris Sarmanta, (b.1995) was the youngest finalist in the 2017 TiTian Prize, an award that honors talent in all genres of Balinese visual art. While his first major group exhibition was in 2013 in Ubud, it was his masterwork Pohon Kehidupan (Tree of Life), painted in 2015 that truly captured local art observer’s attention.

Open 13 May at TiTian Art Space Ubud, REBIRTH, Sarmanta’s premiere solo exhibition showcases his remarkable skills that are a continuation of the tradition of storytelling – the historical fundamental that defines Balinese art. The artist presents nine paintings rich in symbolic meaning, complete with an array of cultural icons that are some of the major visual features. His themes range from the light-hearted, to serious, some works with local and national social, and political references.

"Bulan Cinta (Moon Lovers)" Aris Sarmanta. Image R. Horstman                              Bulan Cinta (Moon Lovers) – Aris Sarmanta

Sarmanta explores a full gamut of colours out side of cultural conventions. He discovers hues through the complex and time-consuming skill of mixing, and then, according to traditional techniques he builds up the colour strength, layer-upon-layer. He adopts fresh colours; metallic bronze, grey, silver and gold adding potent, and shining aesthetic contrasts.

He experiments with and combines iconography from the centuries old Kamasan religious paintings, along with interpretations of rerajahan drawings. The special symbolic talismans imbibed with mysterious powers that may never be reproduced exactly, unless for ritual and sacred purposes. Together many elements combine to bring exciting new dimensions to his Sarmanta’s paintings, revealing a talent that defies his years.

Pohon Kehidupan, a detailed execution of a traditional work with his modern conceptual adaptations is divided into two equal halves, symbolizing both the earthly and heavenly realms. It emphasizes local philosophies that highlight duality, and that life is a complex inter-relationship between positive and negative forces. Visual and philosophical equilibrium is beautifully achieved in this composition that reveals the core principle of Balinese traditional aesthetics – balance and harmony – also the fundamentals to the Balinese way of life. The painting consumed one year of Sarmanta’s time to complete.

"Pohon Kehidupan" Wayan Aris Sasmanta, 2015, Image R. Horstman Acrylic on Canvas, 90x115cm.      Not For Sale – Tangis Amarah Pulau Kecil Baris, 2016 – Aris Sarmanta

History reveals the dilemma of tradition meeting with modernity, and the island’s natural environment and culture being threatened with development. Featuring a Balinese boy warrior (the Baris dancer) expressing both sadness and anger, his headdress depicts a scene of traditional Bali, while an emblem upon his chest reads “Sold Out”. In the foreground two small figures stand in opposition, one a Balinese man with a sign stating “Not For Sale”, the other a satirical character representing a businessman, in a suit and tie holding a brief case, complete with the facial features of a rat.

During his youth the budding artists was trained by his grandfather I Wayan Regug (d.2017), a member of the famous 1930’s Ubud based association the Pita Maha. In recent years, however Sarmanta has been a ‘beneficiary’ of the new Baturlangan Artists Collective of Batuan. Defining the new model of Balinese collectives that are contributing to the current era of renewal of traditional art, Baturlangan’s strong leadership style has a clear vision and mission. This is not only windfall for its members like Sarmanta, yet also for the future generations, via their program of regular workshops for school children.

Bulan Cinta (Moon Lovers) 2016, reveals Sarmanta’s confidence to expose his intimate side. Imagination fuses with memories of personal love experiences in a composition depicting heaven and earth, and featuring two young lovers floating about in various romantic situations. Planets, stars and asteroids, along with objects that combine traditional iconography fill the cosmic scenario, while metallic colours truly bring the painting to life.

Dewa's Pet (ink, tea & coffee on paper)                     Dewa’s Pet (ink, coffee & tea on paper) – Aris Sarmanta

Although young, Sarmanta has developed a strong social conscience. He cites social media as a powerful tool keeping him informed of important local and global events that impact the current social and political landscape. Tapak Dara – Unity/ Tapak Dara – Pilar Kebangsaan 2017, is a landmark work that reveals the extent of the artist’s awareness, along with his ability to combine his feelings into a composition that is relevant to all Indonesians.

Upon a brown background a large white plus sign is the prominent visual structure. It is the Balinese Hindu symbol for the spirit of unity, also of equilibrium, eternity and sustainability. It signifies the four pillars upon which the Indonesian national motto of Bhinneka Tunngal Ika, (Unity in Diversity) are founded. Sarmanta prompts us that the forefathers of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) have laid out four supporting concepts to create national unity, even though there is great diversity within the country.

Reincarnation                      Reincarnation, 2017 – Aris Sarmanta

 

REBIRTH, continuing through until 15 July 2017

TITIañ Art Space

Jalan Bisma, Ubud, Bali

Open 10 am – 7 pm
Ph: +62822-14-400-200
www.TitianArtSpace.com

Words & Images: Richard Horstman
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nyoman Gunarsa (1944 – 2017) One of Bali’s Poineering Modernist

335-maestro_lukis_nyoman_gunarsa_meninggal_dunia_dok_youtube-696x341             RIP Nyoman Gunarsa – One of Bali’s pioneering modern artist

With the recent passing of Balinese artist Nyoman Gunarsa on the 10th September 2017 an important chapter of Balinese art comes to a close. His legacy as an artist, art lecturer, art collective leader and museum owner, however, will be long lasting. Born in Klungkung, East Bali in 1944, Gunarsa was the first post war Balinese artist to rise to national prominence. His contribution to the development of Balinese art as one of the pioneering modern expressionist painters was in the exploration of form, rather than the narrative.

Gunarsa’s energetic style of applying paint to canvas with spontaneous, gestural brushstrokes was likened by some to a musical conductor, and he was affectionately known as the maestro. Raised nearby to the village of Kamasan, which during the 16th – 20th centuries was the epicenter of Balinese Classical art, Gunarsa was renowned for his dedication to the art of his forefathers. Academically trained, he quickly matured as a realism painter, yet in the 1980’s his fresh approach to depicting the characters from the Wayang Kulit shadow puppet theater broke new aesthetic grounds in Balinese art.

nyoman gunarsa, 2006 water color on paper. 115x161cm.Barong Dance,Gunarsa’s dynamic paintings emphasized the energy and movement that typified Balinese performance and ceremony.

The foundation of Balinese art is drawing. The strictly governed rules and techniques that characterize the Classical style begin with the sketching of the composition, the drawing of the fine black ink outlines of all visual information, and the coloring in of figures, forms and motifs. Originally these were collective works completed by a group of artists, as a communal offering of gratitude to the Gods. The application of color involved controlled brushstrokes, layered until the desired results are achieved – a brushwork technique akin to drawing, or penciling in the colorful hues.

Gunarsa’s signature style was an adaptation from western art, in which the individual’s innovative ideas, emotions and energy are omnipotent. Freedom and power of expressive, often minimal brushstrokes defined his visual approach. Gunarsa captured a fresh sense of dynamism in his interpretations of iconic scenarios from the Balinese Hindu legends, along with his revolutionary method of capturing traditional ceremony and performance, especially beautiful women dancing. Fusing his cultural knowledge with elements of expressionism and abstract painting immediately set his work apart from that of his contemporaries.

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Colorful, pulsating movement and vitality categorize Balinese ceremony, performance and dance. This has been a source of inspiration for artists over many generations, yet never had a painter captured the seen, and unseen elements of energy, with Gunarsa’s colorful vibrancy. Form along with the decorative elements of Balinese Classical painting took on wonderful new life, and an exciting, newfound match for the unique, real visual spectacle was born.

As an art lecturer at Yogyakarta’s ASRI (Academi Seni Rupa Indonesia) during the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s Gunarsa was a catalyst to great change. He shared his vast knowledge and enthusiasm with a new, young generation of Balinese artists, the first to venture outside of their cultural structures and restraints, to be academically trained in Central Java. These were the formative days of Balinese contemporary art. Via their fresh approach to exploration and expression using new and unusual media they transformed Balinese philosophies, rituals and symbols into an exciting new visual language.

Gunarsa(DK)

Gunarsa helped establish Indonesia’s longest running artist collective, Sanggar Dewata Indonesia, SDI (Workshop of the Gods) in 1970, inviting his Balinese students to form the new association. SDI grew to create a social collective to coordinate artistic activities, exhibitions and organize debates on art outside the institutional teaching framework. It offered its members freedom to collaborate and create without having to fear being labeled as supporters of certain political parties, during a highly politicized era of Indonesian history.

While the influential 1936 – 1945 Pita Maha artists collective redefined Balinese traditional art with modern aesthetics for the burgeoning tourist market, SDI set about redefining from the artist’s perspective based on the search for new ideas, self-expression, and national identity. This new art movement laid the foundations for the future, while inspiring many young artist to study in Yogyakarta, and Balinese contemporary art evolved to reveal its own distinct ‘voice’ in world art, while spawning generations of talented artists.

Sketch in black ink- Gunarsa

During the 1980’s – 1990’s Gunarsa and others such as Wianta, Sika, Djirna and Erawan enjoyed national and international success. Gunarsa opened the Museum of Contemporary Indonesian Painting in Yogyakarta in 1989. His next milestone was in 1994 when the Nyoman Gunarsa Museum of Classical Painting opened next to his residence in Klungkung. In the 3-storey venue he combined his own works with Classical paintings from the 17th – 19th centuries. Dedicated to the preservation of this unique art form Gunarsa acquired scarce works, including ones painted on rare ulantaga bark paper.

Artifacts, stone and woodcarvings, traditional furniture, masks, sculptures and a collection of sacred ceremonial kris add to the historical significance of his museum. In August 2017 the Indonesian President Joko Widodo attended an official reception at the museum in Gunarsa’s honor. As an international, multi award winning artist Gunarsa held solo exhibitions in more than ten foreign countries.

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A landmark celebration of Balinese art was held from July – October 2012 at Gunarsa’s museum, The First International Festival of Classical Balinese Painting. The festival included works from collections of seven other countries, along with the participation of some of the world’s leading foreign authorities on Balinese Classical art. “Classical Balinese paintings have been admired world wide since the European society first became acquainted with the East in the 15th century,” said Gunarsa. “And since then other countries have searched out these masterpieces to enrich their cultural references because of the extraordinary implied messages, philosophies, and counsels about the life of the Balinese.”

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Words: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JAW (Jogja Art Weeks) – Indonesia’s evolving art infrastructure

"Bebas Dalam Keterbatasan" (free within limitations) 2017, Photography on Acrylic. Nofria Doni Fitri. Bakaba, Sakato Art Community, Jogja Gallery Image R Horstman“Bebas Dalam Keterbatasan” (free within limitations) 2017, Photography on Acrylic – Nofria Doni Fitri. Bakaba by Sakato Art Community, Jogja Gallery, during JAW

Indonesia is the biggest and most dynamic art market in the Asian region next to China, and the largest art producer of Southeast Asia. Increasingly gaining international attention via the mechanisms of global art, each year more-and-more foreigners venture to Central Java seeking out engagement with the many talented and diverse artists, and art communities in the area.

Jogja Art Weeks (JAW) is a month-long plethora of activities held May/June throughout Yogyakarta’s Special Regency, and north into Magelang. Organized by Heri Pemad Art Management (HPAM), founders of ART|JOG, since its conceptualization four years ago JAW has quickly evolved, this year’s program showcased 140 plus events.

“In the beginning many artists working in Yogyakarta needed presentation space. Both the infrastructure along with events were lacking. While ART|JOG quickly became popular, its capacity was inadequate to cater for the demand,” said Yogyakarta art visionary Heri Pemad. “So we invited galleries, art spaces, cultural and educational institutions, collectives and alternative spaces to create events at the same time as ART|JOG, aiming to accommodate as many artists as possible. The goal in mind, to create a unique cultural festival.”

"Wear You All Night" 2016, Sarah Choo Ching. "Supernatural" at Gajah Gallery. Image Richard Horstman“Wear You All Night” 2016 – Sarah Choo Ching. “Supernatural” at Gajah Gallery.

In 2015 the first JAW event featured a smattering of events in a number of galleries and areas around Yogyakarta. 2016 and this year though, included the new and comprehensive JAW Guide Book. “Last year’s publication registered about 60 events, in 2017 however, listings tallied 147, and continued to grow on JAW’s website & social media,” Pemad said.

The 2017 JAW Guide Book, a free 207-page index brought added stimulus to traverse the far corners of the regency, while opening the big city up to visitors. Most of the activity was found in the South West in Bantul. Listings included exhibitions, performances, music events, film screenings, cultural festivals, tours, and a diverse array of workshops including photography, ceramic painting, collage, batik with electric canting tools, Japanese Shibori tie dye techniques and installation making. This year’s publication also catalogued 40 different museums in the region.

"Shadow Dance" #18, 2017, 200 x 400 cm. Nyoman Erawan. "Linkage" OHD Museum. Image R. Horstman“Shadow Dance” #18, 2017, 200 x 400 cm – Nyoman Erawan. “Linkage” OHD Museum, Magelleng

As the main draw card of JAW, this year celebrating its tenth edition with ART|JOG|10 Changing Perspective, every year additional foreigners and art industry insiders experience Indonesia’s oldest art fair, with it’s unique model that supports artists over galleries. This extraordinary grassroots event evolves each year, its new venue, the Jogja National Museum (JNM) practically, and historically a precise match with the event. The JAW Guide Book functioned perfectly as a hands-on information source, and while professionally organized art tourism is in its infancy in the country, the Guide Book is a bonus to the sustainability of the local art eco-system. Such supporting infrastructure aids the development of art tourism in Yogyakarta, which inevitably becomes a model for other parts of the Indonesia.

“Initially we believed that the popular idea of city branding during ART|JOG and JAW was the responsibility of the government as the increased tourism helps drive the local and wider economies,” Pemad said. “HPAM requested financial support for the making of the guide-book, and finally this year the Yogyakarta Cultural Office agreed to help sponsor its implementation.”

20170518_111858            Made Mahendra Mangku “The Gift” at Sangkring Art Space

One of the JAW highlights involved the hour and a half journey to Magelleng for the annual opening at the OHD Museum. Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the museum founded by the leading patron of Indonesian art, Dr Ooi Hong Djien, Linkage celebrated 51 Indonesia artists who had been a part of the museum’s collection for over two decades. Twenty-four artists were invited to create new works that were presented alongside their older works. This exhibition of outstanding quality attracted many international visitors, works by Ivan Sagita, Nyoman Erawan, Handiwirman Saputra, along with others underlining the uniqueness of the OHD collection.

Amok Tanah Jawa was an exhibition of paintings and installations by East Javanese artist Moelyono, known for his interactions with traditional artists highlighting subversive narratives, in collaboration with Yusuf Muntaha. Featured were paintings of excellent technical precision, along with in-depth investigation of East Javanese performance art at Lenggeng Art Foundation. Wood, leaves, rattan and mending (Chinese water chestnut) were the medium of historical, educational and environmental exploration by Nindityo Adipurnomo, Adek Dimas Ajisak, Maharani Mancanagara and Zulfian Amrullah in Meraka-reka at Galerie Lorong.

"Pengantin Revolusi" 2017 Moelyono. "Amok Tanah Jawa" Langgeng Art Foundation Image R Horstman“Pengantin Revolusi”, 2017 – Moelyono “Amok Tanah Jawa” Langgeng Art Foundation

Nancy Nan’s Red Base Art Foundation has quickly established its presence in Indonesia, it highlighted photography with two separate exhibitions, Processione Dei Misteri by Anastasia Darsono and RAW by foreigner Vanessa Van Houten.   West Sumatran Sakato Art Community presented their 6th annual exhibition Bakaba. Themed IndONEsia, and at the Jogja Gallery, well-known members exhibited with their counterparts. Open for one month, exploring ideas of what it means to be an Indonesian artist, this was one of the strongest collective showings during JAW. Works by Gusman Heraldi, Jumaldi Alfi and Erizal were noteworthy, while artists such as Dwita Anja Asmara, Fika Ria Santika, Zulfirman Syah, Tariq Muntaha reveal enormous talent within Sakato.

Balinese artist and long-term Yogyakarta resident Putu Sutawijaya and his Malaysian wife Jenny have created an important community complex Sangkring which presented 3 separate exhibitions. Following on from last year’s Jogja International Miniptint Biennale #2, Jogja Editions Print Fair displayed selected graphic works, both conventional and contemporary from Indonesian and international artists at the Sangkring Art Project. The Gift celebrated the tenth anniversary of Sangkring Art Space and featured a selection of some of the Indonesia’s finest, including eleven Balinese artists. Included were Nasirun, Ugo Untoro, Sutjipto Adi, Made Djirna, Mangu Putra and Yunizar. Bale Banjar, the latest addition to Sangkring, featured BergerakYogya Art Annual #2 a strong and diverse showcasing of over 40 local artists.

Agung Prabowo - Seven colors linocut print on washi paper, 2017. Jogja Editions Print Fair, Sangkring Art Project. Image R. HorstmanAgung Prabowo – Seven colors linocut print on washi paper, 2017. Jogja Editions Print Fair, Sangkring Art Project

Gajah Gallery is renowned for presenting not only Indonesian, yet regional contemporary art into Asia, and beyond. Taking advantage of the captive international and local audience Gajah surveyed some of Singapore’s best in the group exhibition Supernatural, at their Yogyakarta complex. Presenting a level of quality that set it apart, it featured 18 Singaporean artists exploring ways in which their practices meditate with the perceptions of nature, reality and belief systems. Incredible depth, including Sarah Choo Jing, Zen Teh, Ruben Pang, to name a few, while Ng Joon Kiat’s Untitled Cities 3, 2016 his 3-dimensional abstract composition inspired by his fascination with maps and Asia’s vastly changing terrains and territories, is a masterwork.

As a university city, Yogyakarta attracts the youthful, energetic talent of ethnic groups from all over the country. The depth of this is cultural diversity translated into enormous array of creative expressions and the long list of musical events and performances during JAW was world-class, along with being a HPAM organizational feat. JNM hosted daily ART|JOG music and performance events, while many others within the JAW program were hosted around the city. Special mention goes to Satan Jawa, the silent black and white movie directed by Garin Nugroho, with live gamelan orchestra and music composed by Rahayu Supanggah. On a closing note was the charity tribute group exhibition at the Tanah Liat Museum for the iconic Yogyakarta artist S Teddy Darmawan (1976-2016), who passed away last year after a long battle with cancer.

20170519_184023               Ruben Pang from the exhibition “Supernatural” at Gajah Gallery

The development of Indonesian art has suffered greatly due to the lack of institutional and government support, along with local galleries without strong international business models.

Infrastructure like JAW, and especially ART|JOG which has now become the ‘voice’ of Indonesian contemporary art, defining its unique character, helps consolidate Yogyakarta onto the global art map. First time visitors are guaranteed many wonderful surprises! JAW is a boon for the region, and a repeat destination for collectors and art lovers.

20170520_094728 PemangkasanHandiwirman Saputra – Bakaba #6 Sakato Art Community, Jogja National Gallery

Ali Umar by Ali Umar, 400 pen sketches on paper & sculptures 1997-2017 during JAWAli Umar by Ali Umar, 400 pen sketches on paper & sculptures, 1997-2017, during JAW

"Above, 2016 - Willy Halaman, Banjar Bale during JAW  Above, 2016 – Willy Halaman,  Bergerak – Yogya Art Annual #2, Bale Banjar, during JAW

20170519_184112Untitled Cities 3, 2016 – Ng Joon Kiat, in the exhibhtion Supernatural at Gajah Gallery

 

www.jogjaartweeks.com

Words & Images: 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

 

 

Made Djirna – soul mining

Installation at Djirna's studio.                     Installation by Made Djirna at his Ubud studio, 2017

Exploring Balinese artist Made Djirna’s cavernous studio conjures up notions of a journey into a mysterious inner sanctum that is vibrant and fascinating, yet is equally as powerful and confronting.

A collector of all manner of cultural artifacts, naturally formed shapes and unusual objects, which he then converts into intriguing installations, typically, Djirna’s lively yet simplified and raw figures reflect the primitive tribal arts. He constructs enormous “shrines and altars” from old timber, crude sculptures and rocks, complete with fire, coloured light,  and abstract painted deities that are infused with a sense of ritual and resonate with spiritual energy.

Installation by Made Djirna, mixed media, various dimensions. 2012.Image Richard Horstman.JPGInstallation by Made Djirna exhibited in “Ubud 1963, (Re) Reading The Growth of Made Djirna”, at the National Gallery in Jakarta. 24th November – 5th December 2012.

Within the National Gallery of Indonesia, Djirna recreates the unique essence of his studio by placing his installations within small rooms and in confined corners. He allows the audience an insight into the creative world of one Indonesia’s finest contemporary artists.

“My concern is to express reflections that go far deeper than what we can know with our panca indra (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin). All of my work is a process that goes hand in hand with the demands of my soul. It is essentially a spiritual process taking visible pictorial shape,” Djirna.

'Benang Merah Bali - Basel" (The Red Thread From Bali to Basel) Made Djirna. 1993, mixed media on canvas, 145 x 245cm..JPG     Benang Merah Bali (the red thread from Bali to Basel) – Made Djirna, 1993

A versatile artist who loves to experiment with new materials, techniques and styles, from 2010 onwards Djirna reinterpreted his method of producing his paintings and the new works were highlighted in his exhibition Ubud 1963, (Re) Reading The Growth of Made Djirna, at the National Gallery of Indonesia, in Jakarta. The exhibition ran from 24 November through to 5 December 2012.

In this, Djirna’s eighth solo, retrospective exhibition, observers may take a brief sojourn through his creative development and witness the metamorphosis he has undergone. Mengenang Piramid (To Reminisce About the Pyramid),1994 and Kabut Hitam (Black Fog) 1994, are memoirs of his childhood experience of 1963. Both paintings are rendered in darkened acrylic hues with traces of red and white. These bleak abstract works convey anxiety and distress, evident in the facial expression in Piramid and the tension created by vigorously scored details into the body of the work. Kabut suggests architectural objects overcome by thick black clouds and bright red denotes volcanic flows and the horror of such a scenario.

"Wajah Wajah Mengambang" (Floating Faces) Made Djirna, 2008, oil on canvas, 295 x 380cm.      Wajah Wajah Mengambang (Floating Faces) – Made Djirna, 2008

Within his curatorial essay, senior Indonesian curator Jim Supangkat began by describing the extraordinary events of 1963 that had a catastrophic impact on Bali, as well as shaping the formative years of a young Djirna who was living just north of Ubud. Mount Agung in East Bali, the islands spiritual pinnacle, began its process of tremors in January, volcanic eruptions started in March and again in May and tremors then continued until its final blast in January 1964. This was an unprecedented year with extensive infrastructure damage, crop failures, wide-spread famines and many deaths, while also putting an immediate halt to tourism in Bali.

Born in Kedewatan, Ubud in 1957 Djirna was just 6 years old at the time of this event. He later went on to graduate from the Faculty of Fine Art and Design at the ISI (Indonesian Institute of Art) Yogyakarta in 1985 and spent 10 years living in the cultural capital of Java. He actively exhibits his works locally and internationally and is a member of the respected SDI, Sanggar Dewata Indonesia association of modern artists.

"Gajah Genit" (flirty Elephant) Made Djirna. 2012, mixed media on canvas, 260x400cm..JPG          “Gajah Genit” (Flirty Elephant), 260 x 400 cm, 2012 – Made Djirna

Among Djirna’s captivating new works exhibited in the National Gallery, Gajah Genit (Flirty Elephant), 260 x 400 cm, serves as a metaphor of a power crisis in the face of change. Djirna communicates the damages inflicted by power and domination via deforestation. Posing in jest, the “flirty elephant” stands confidently in defiance. Yet also he depicts a ruler’s demise by placing the image of a vulture on the elephant’s head.  He also symbolizes the dawn of a new era by depicting a dove on a stump of a tree. This intelligent work in rich blues, reds and greens is infused with humor that helps to resolve the seriousness of the alarming reality we face.

Upon his mixed media canvases of huge proportions (up to 350 x 400 cm) Djirna first applies a thick base of texture into which he scores his vast narratives, then adds color in rich metallic paint and finally contains all the characters within black lines. In a style reminiscent of the traditional Balinese paintings with the narrative covering the complete expanse of canvas, Djirna’s works take on modern narratives and issues that for the artist are very close to home.

Metamorfosis-2012      Metamorfosis (Metamorphosis), 260 x 400 cm, 2012 – Made Djirna

His recent use of metallic paints adds a wonderful luminous dimension, particularly when highlighted by artificial lighting. They are aesthetically spectacular not only because of the dynamic coloration, yet the scale of the works simply overwhelms. Some have taken Djirna more than 4 months to complete.

In Metamorfosis (Metamorphosis), 2012, 260 x 400 cm, two lovers embrace in the forest surrounded by hundreds of brightly colored butterflies, on the trunks of the trees are numerous large caterpillars. What may appear to be a simplistic narrative denoting change reveals the reality that life is full of paradoxes. Butterflies are natures symbol of grace, yet they become caterpillars which are destructive and are seen as pests. This is a creation of wonder and beauty, and it is here that Djirna’s brilliance shines through.

DSCF4366Installation by Made Djirna in the exhibition, “The Logic of Ritual” at Sangkring Art Gallery, Yogyakarta, 2013.

During his July, 2013 exhibition at Sangkring Art Space in Yogyakarta Djirna was prepared to bring his religion under close scrutiny. His paintings and installations in The Logic of Ritual were protests against numerous ritual practices, whose meaning, according to the artist, is now driven by modern and commercial practices.

Djirna criticises the consumption of money (his works utilise a countless number of Chinese coins used in Balinese rituals) in direct relation to the demands of Balinese Hindu religious rituals that are becoming increasingly glamorous, luxurious and festive. Such demands, while indeed granting communion between the devotee, the spirit world and Gods, may be perceived as rigid mechanisms, ultimately keeping the ‘little people’ poor.

He dedicated his exhibition to the plight of the impoverished of Bali, who suffer in silence while paying excessively for offerings and rituals that demand perfection both in the materials and presentation.

Djirna -the magic of ritual .jpg               The Logic of Ritual – Made Djirna, 2013

Djirna was invited to participate in the landmark 2016 Singapore Biennale – An Everywhere of Mirrorings at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM). His installation – Melampaui Batas (Beyond Boundaries) 2016, seeked to transcend the boundaries between the interior and the exterior, the microcosm and the macrocosm, along with the spiritual and the physical planes.

A fusion of different elements, it featured found objects, 1000 terracotta figurines representing humanity (the fragility of clay signifying the precarious nature of life), an antique traditional ironwood boat from Sulawesi –symbolic of journeying between Nusantara and the larger world and the worlds of the living and dead (in Balinese belief the boat carries the soul to its ancestral abode after death). Positioned in the corners of the room, large trees constructed from driftwood – its trunks and branches, some with crude primitive figure scribed into the wood, suggest fragments of other lives, cultures and civilizations.

Made Djirna "Melampaui Batas" 2016 Singpore Biennale .jpgMelampaui Batas (Beyond Boundaries) 2016 – Made Djirna, Singapore Biennale – An Everywhere of Mirrorings at the Singapore Art Museum.

The artist’s earlier works are categorized by naïve figurative and abstract expressions often rendering thick chunks of paint to create ambiguous forms with faces that reveal the darker emotions of the human experience. His strong earthy figures are a reminder of the past when life was simpler and with a greater connection to the environment.

What has remained consistent throughout Djirna’s career is his sense of unity within the collective experience and importance of the personal process while learning to endure the dualities of life.

“Through the personal development that is achieved by the inward journey of self-discovery, compassion, understanding and healing, we gain wisdom and strength. These are the tools which will support us during the journey of life.” Made Djirna’s expressions are intimate, honest and expose the heartfelt emotions of the human experience. They convey a profound sense of authenticity.

Djirna is currently working on a large installation for the Jakarta Biennale in November 2017.

Rimba-2011                        Rimba, 2011 – Made Djirna

Mixed Media on board, 210x70cm, 2007.                Installation by Made Djirna at his Ubud studio, 2007

DSCF4389.JPG                  Painting from The Logic of Ritual – Made Djirna, 2013

Words & Images: Richard Horstman