Category Archives: Balinese Contemporary Art

TiTian Bali Foundation Gives Recognition & Heritage Awards to Balinese Artists

chairman-of-the-indonesian-agency-for-creative-economy-triawan-munaf-with-the-nine-finalists-of-the-2017-titian-art-prize-copyThe Nine Finalists of the TiTian Prize, (from left) Gede Suryawan, Wayan Aris Sarmanta, Wayan Malik, Mangku Muriati Mura, Ida Bagus Suryantara, Gede Sugiada, Made Sutama, Nyoman Arisana and Made Supena pictured with Triawan Munaf, Chairman of the Agency for Creative Economy Indonesia (center).

 

During the first anniversary celebrations of Yayasan TiTian Bali, in Ubud, Sunday 29 January, the Chairman of Agency for Creative Economy Indonesia, Triawan Munaf presented an array of art awards, culminating with the nine finalists, and the winner of the TiTian Prize 2017.

winner-of-the-2017-titian-prize-fight-lust-nyoman-arisana-copy                 Fight LustNyoman Arisana, Winner of the TiTian Prize 2017

Yayasan TiTian Bali (YTB) was established in the belief that Balinese art would flourish as it is integrated into a truly creative economy. “The founders of TiTian believe in continuing the importance of Bali’s history and culture, but we share a concern that the long association of the island’s creative life with tourism, cottage industry, and souvenirs, combine to create static and clichéd perceptions of cultural heritage,” said YTB Director Soemantri Widagdo.

alam-agung-great-whale-ida-bagus-suryantara                              Alam Agung Ida Bagus Suryantara

“We aim to work with Balinese artists, designers, and performers to ensure the long-term cultural, economic, and creative success of Balinese arts, with the highest levels of entrepreneurship in its creation and marketing,” he said. “Our mission is to discover, nurture and develop new talents, helping them achieve their full potential.”

“We are excited to be associated with Yayasan TiTian Bali, it as if TiTian is our arm in Bali,” said Triawan Munaf, Chairman of the Agency for Creative Economy Indonesia. “The mission of the Foundation is inline with our concerns.”

hidup-di-alam-gede-suryawan                             Hidup di Alam Gede Suryawan

“What we are doing now with the agency is developing the eco-systems within each of the 16 sub sectors of the creative economy, including the visual arts,” Munaf said. “We aim to create policies, involving multi ministries, that can make some breakthroughs for our creatives, giving them freedoms and mechanisms of how to enter markets, access finance, and how to register the intellectual property of their creations.”

emotion-ii-installation-made-supena                               Emotion II, Installation – Made Supena

The TiTian Prize 2017, open to all Balinese visual artists in the genres of painting, sculpture, installation and photography, received 82 entries from all regencies in Bali, plus entries from Lombok and Yogyakarta, 9 works were submitted by women. The finalists ranged in age from 21 – 53, reflecting the talent of both emerging and established artists. Genres varied from the traditional Kamasan, Batuan and Keliki styles, works influenced by modern and contemporary painting, and one wood carving installation.

lot-364-sutama-i-made                                    World of DreamsMade Sutama

Fight Lust, the winning painting by twenty-seven year old Gianyar painter Nyoman Arisana, an eye-catching composition of contrasts and tension featured a complex laying of visual elements, in both mono chrome and color, from the Balinese tradition, along with modern and contemporary art.

bhineka-tunggal-ika-mungku-muriarti-mura                         Bhineka Tunggal Ika – Mangku Muriati Mura

The work sets demonic creatures at war with one another, symbolizing, according the artist our human behavior. “Lust greatly influences human life and survival, greed, jealousy and envy are common, yet our desire to do good may also be perceived as lust,” Arisana said.

kasih-ibu-mothers-love-wayan-malik                                 Kasih IbuWayan Malik

The presentations at Titian Art Space Bali included the second annual Anugrah Pusaka Seni (Art Heritage) Award to ten artists and a patron who have made extraordinary contributions to the Balinese Arts. Some of the honored were Nyoman Ngendon (1906-1946), Ida Bagus Togog (1913-1989) and Ida Bagus Njana (1912-1985).

female-male-gede-sugiada                             Female & MaleGede Sugiada

The Patron Award (Life Achievement) went to Ni Made Kadjeng, founder of the Secondary School for the Arts of Batubulan. The event included the launch of the Indonesian language edition of Ida Bagus Made: The Art of Devotion, a book that focuses on paintings from the estate of the esteemed Balinese artist Ida Bagus Made Poleng (1915-1999).

nature-tease-wayan-aris-sarmanta                                Nature TeaseWayan Aris Sarmanta

“We are already working with Bali’s village artists’ associations, schools, individual artists, and other arts organizations for all our activities. Our approach is inclusive rather than exclusive,” Widagdo said.  “The long-term goal is to build the Bali Museum of Contemporary Art (Bali MOCA), exhibiting old and new work of the finest quality, supported by programs to inspire new directions and achievements in Balinese visual arts.”

Nine Finalists of the First TiTian Prize

Exhibition open 29 January – 26 February 2017

TiTian Bali Art Space, Jalan Bisma 88, Ubud, Bali.

http://www.titianartspace.com

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

Walking a Unique Path – Wayan Sika

sika-profile

Wayan Sika smiles as he contemplates his new-found freedom. “On Friday 1st October 2010, after a 34 year association lecturing part-time at ISI (Institute of Fine Arts) Denpasar, I have decided to retire.” Like many others Sika dedicates himself to his family and community; however, the breadth of his accomplishments defines him as truly unique within the realms of Balinese art.

“My father was a renowned wood-carver, many students came to his studio to study under him. For me this was a wonderful learning environment, and I too became a good wood sculptor.”

Born in the village of Silakarng, Gianyar, in 1949, formal art education began in SSRI (School of Fine Art Indonesia) in Denpasar, followed by 4 years studying painting at the Academy ASRI of Indonesian Fine Art in Yogyakarta. “I had become a competent sculptor and then I developed a strong desire to paint, I also wished to broaden my creative skills.”

mandala-2009-200-x-200-cm                                                  Mandala 2009

In 1970 along with Nyoman Gunarsa, Made Wianta and other students at the ASRI, Sika founded the Sanggar Dewata Indonesia (SDI) artists collective. These artists were young and dynamic, they loved to experiment with new techniques and aesthetic concepts. This was the prerequisite for artists who were invited to join this avant-garde collective.

After finishing his studies in Yogyakarta, Sika returned to Bali. Married at age 24 to lady from Yogyakarta with royal ancestry, he began a family and focused his energies on a furniture production business. “I specialized in creating individual, fine art pieces of furniture for the discerning buyer, featuring wood carving in the Renaissance Rococo style.”

“The business quickly grew and I employed more than 100 wood carvers. Indonesian government ministers from the Suharto era acquired this furniture for their homes and offices. All the while during this period I found time for my passion, I continued to paint.”

kasi-cinta-give-love-2008-150-x-200-cm                                               Kasih Cinta 2008

In 1982-83, Sika was summoned by the government to go to New Zealand and produce furniture for the Indonesian Embassy. Then in 1986 he traveled to Switzerland where he worked creating expressive carvings and bronze statues until 1987. He received an order in 1989 from a Museum in Basel to make a Barong (the Balinese sacred ceremonial artifact that represents universal benevolence) for their collection.

It was during this period when the head of the Christof Merian Foundation saw his paintings and invited him to join their program of International Exchange Artists. Sika’s premiere solo exhibition in Basel in 1989 was sold out. This then provided the personal belief required, and then he devoted more energy into his painting. “This was an exciting period, there was a momentum and my painting was improving, however, I had to return to Bali, my family required my attention, and so did my furniture business.”

“It was difficult for the SDI artists to find a location to exhibit their work in Bali and for this reason I founded the Sika Contemporary Art Gallery in Campuhan, Ubud as an exhibition venue. The gallery opened in 1996, at the time of the 25th anniversary of the formation of the SDI artists’ foundation.”

krishna-narayana-2009-300-x-200                                                     Krishna Narayana 2009

This non sales orientated gallery specializes in providing space to support regular exhibitions by talented young artists from Indonesia and around the world. The gallery has become a prestigious site with a reputation for showing work with a high level of creativity and innovation.

Sika was asked by the Christof Merian Foundation to select Indonesian artists to travel to Switzerland, to be sponsored by the foundation for 3 months. This allowed the artists to exhibit in the cultural museum in Basel and be exposed to galleries from London, Holland and Germany. Under Sika’s recommendation Nyoman Erawan, Made Budhiana, Made Djirna, Edi Hara, Made Wianta, Ketut Pandi Taman and Putu Sutawijaya all had the opportunity for international exposure. Today they are considered to be some of Indonesia’s finest contemporary art talents.

In 2001 Sika chose to step aside from the foundation and reassess his personal focus. “I had received a calling to dedicate myself to my spiritual journey. As an artist this was to have a profound affect and my work became more symbolic rather than being focused on harmony and composition.”

dewi-rati-2009-150-x-200-cm                                                          Dewi Rati 2009

He continued to organize group and community exhibitions as well as curating exhibitions and writing in books, catalogs, magazines and newspapers. His actions were also relevant in the development of new schools and kinder gardens in Bali. Sika had a series of health problems that saw him comatose on 3 occasions, once in 2003, again in 2006 and finally in 2009, when he hovered close to death for many days.

On this occasion he received visions which inspired a new series of paintings.

The Truth, Compassion and Tolerance Art Exhibition, open  16-24 October 2010 at the Sika Contemporary Fine Art Gallery, depicted the calamity of mankind, reflecting the conflict between good and evil, namely the systematic persecution of the Falun Dafa spiritual movement disciples by the Chinese Communist Regime. The powerful realism paintings featured by international artists re enforced on one hand, the state of beauty of the Falun Dafa movement and on the other, the horror it is confronted with in China. Since 2004 this exhibition has been shown in more than 40 countries and 200 cities.

During the past 45 years Sika has been given many paintings by international and Indonesian artists that he has met and helped during his lifetime. His personal art collection is now of a museum standard and quantity.

consent-2009-300-x-200cm                                                            Consent 2009

Sika nowadays paints purely on the prompting of his intuition. Paintings produced during the last 10 years have been mixed media works on large 2 x 2 meter canvases, symbolic images are purely of a spiritual nature. These works include written text on cloth conjuring up the movement and essence of Tibetan pray flags, figures in the style of Hindu deities, large lotus flowers and his channeled mantra’s written in Sanskrit text.The predominant colors are gold and white, while he delicately layers films of coloration giving the works an ethereal sense. The Balinese live in an intermediate world between that which is human and the realm of the Gods. Sika’s creativity originates from a divine source above.

His wish now is retire from the Sika Contemporary Fine Art Gallery and to focus solely on his spiritual development, while taking care of his family and grand children. His dream is to manifest an art foundation to oversee the management and future of his Gallery and its commitment to avant-garde artists.

Wayan Sika has established himself as one of the influential Balinese artists of his generation, and historically one of the most significant Indonesian contemporary fine art identities.

The Sika Contemporary Fine Art Gallery is located on Jalan Raya Campuhan, just up and across the road from Bintang Supermarket.

Phone/Fax: +62 361 975084

Email: info@sikagallery.com

Website: www.sikagallery.com

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

Nuarta & GWK’s Mission for World Peace

gwk-nuarta-visnu-statue-image-richard-horstman             Vishnu Under Construction at Nuarta’s Bandung Studio

 

During the past few years an unusual eyesore has slowly grown upon Bali’s Pecatu Bukit peninsula landscape, a massive concrete and steel foundation that now projects up over 80 meters into the sky.

Straddled by an enormous crane, the unlikely structure will be the pedestal for an icon of unprecedented proportions, that according to its creator, Balinese sculptor Nyoman Nuarta, represents the cultural identity and character of the Balinese and Indonesian people, while embodying Indonesia’s longing to contribute something of significance to the global community.

Yet this landmark project by the award-winning sculptor, responsible for numerous monumental public artworks throughout Indonesia and abroad, including the “Arjuna Wijaya” statue in Jakarta’s main avenue, has evolved beyond any expectations to be the most challenging of his illustrious career.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0012.JPGThe Enormous Pedestal for Nuarta’s Garuda Wisnu Statue at GWK Cultural Park, Jimbaran

 

“Along with big dreams, will come big challenges,” Nuarta said, about upon his visionary artistic project; the GWK Cultural Park, and the trials he has encountered during the process of realisation over the last 25 years. “Despite the years of delays this project has taught me to be patient and to never give up on my dreams.”

“The GWK idea first came to mind in the late 1980’s,” recalls Nuarta, who was born in Tabanan in 1951 and left Bali upon graduating from high school for West Java to study sculpture at Bandung’s ITB. “Its development has had to sustain the paralyzing effects of a political regime change, a nationwide financial crisis, conflicts within the project’s management structures, and more.”

“Cultural heritage alone will not sustain the Bali tourism industry. We need a place where our heritage can be both protected and also be developed,” said Nuarta, aware of the distinctive creative potential of Bali and the future possibilities of contributing something completely different to the sphere of global art.

construction-of-gwk-statue-at-nuartas-studio-bandung-image-pt-siluet-nuarta                             Nuarta’s Team at work in Bandung

“Bali is always welcoming to new cultures and artistic expressions from around the world. I envision GWK Cultural Park to be a place where Balinese thinkers and artists could showcase their works and have creative dialogue with their counterparts from across the globe.”

“The concept also includes the GWK World Cultural Forum, with its goal to introduce different cultures of the world through our mission to educate people to become more understanding towards other cultures,” Nuarta said. “In the end our objective is world peace.”

Set upon a 60-hectare limestone escarpment the GWK Cultural Park, owned by the public company PT. Alam Sutra with an 18% shared controlled by the PT. Bali Tourism Development corporation, first began construction in 1996. It’s concept was devised by the GWK Foundation that was headed by two ministers of the then Suharto government, Nuarta and a few individuals and businessmen close to President Suharto. Nuarta was then commissioned by Suharto to build a giant statue at GWK of the Hindu God Wisnu perched upon the back of his sacred cosmic vehicle, the mythical Garuda bird.

gwk-sculpture-installation-image-pt-siluet-nuarta                Nuarta’s Team at Work at GWK Cultural Park, Jimbaran

The 75-meter-high Garuda Wisnu statue, with a wingspan of 64 meters is made of copper and brass sheeting, stainless steel framework and skeleton, and is being constructed by PT Siluet Nyoman Nuarta, with its 200 personnel from various academic and cultural backgrounds, in Nuarta’s Bandung workshop. The sculptures outer skins, measuring 22,000 square meters, and the stainless steel framework are to be cut into 700 components and then transported overland by 400 individual truck journeys to Bali.

On location the statue will be forged together then mounted on the pedestal, the total height of the finished monument will be 126 meters, 30 meters taller than America’s Statue of Liberty, while its volume will be 11 times greater.

“I use the image of Garuda and Wisnu as a symbol of courage and loyalty. Wisnu is responsible for cosmic balance and harmony of all life.” The statue, Nuarta said, “Symbolizes a universal calling to all global citizens to play their part in nurturing and protecting the Earth.”

the-groundbreaking-ceremony-at-gwk-23rd-augustThe Ground Breaking Ceremony at GWK Cultural Park, Initiating the Start of Construction

Nuarta’s prominence as a sculptor began shortly before graduating from ITB, after winning the Indonesia’s Proclamator’s Monument competition in 1979. He was then appointed by the committee to build a statue of the nation’s founding father Soekarno. In 1977 he had joined  the revolutionary “Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru Indonesia” (the Indonesian New Art Movement) regularly participating in their collective’s exhibitions.

Having grown up close to nature Nuarta learned the importance of guarding the harmonious relationship between man and the creator, humanity with nature, and the relationships among mankind themselves. His artworks often reflect this important Balinese Hindu philosophy of Tri Hita Karana.

After a 16 year delay in August 2013 another chapter in the GWK statue’s construction began, then early in 2015 the pedestal’s erection ground to a halt. This year, however it has witnessed steady development, with the statue expected to be completed by 2018. When completed GWK Cultural Park will include a museum built within the pedestal, a cultural park and integrated tourism facilities.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Garuda Wisnu Statue Under Construction at Nuarta’s Bandung Studio

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: PT Siluet Nyoman Nuarta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bali Art Scene 2016: The Final Six Months Overview

15878100_120300001416662373_1113857188_oBudi Agung Kuswara with patient from Rumah Berdaya, a community based psycho-social rehabilitation center utilizing art as a tool for creative solutions.

 

The concluding six months of events on the 2016 Bali art calendar were exceptionally busy; the following are some of the highlights of the closing half of the year:

In late May contemporary artist Budi Agung Kuswara, co-founder of Ketemu Project Space, began his special art project in Denpasar, co facilitated by a professional psychiatrist at “Rumah Berdaya”, a community based psycho-social rehabilitation center utilizing art as a tool for creative solutions. The project continued throughout the year providing activities for people with schizophrenia to encourage social interactions through art making, productivity and independence while expressing their ideas and thinking.

Skizofriends Art Movement will be an ongoing program following on from the success of Budi and colleague’s lobbying of the Denpasar Government to become supporters. In 2017 it will become a part of the Denpasar City Department Health Care Program, while Skizofriends Art Movement was involved in activities at the Denpasar Festival 2016 28-31 December at Lapangan Puputan, Denpasar.   Budi must be congratulated on this initiative aimed at empowering individuals and building community through engaging the public through the potent creative forces of art.

made-valasaraValasara’s Konstruksi semesta, semesta yang teralienasi menpertanyakan kediriannya dalam ekspresi tunggal.

Made Valasara made a conspicuous presence during ArtJog 9’s Universal Influence 27 May opening at the Jogja National Museum in Yogyakarta, Central Java. Being the only Bali based Balinese artist invited to exhibit his work was both an honour and an excellent opportunity for exposure to large national and international audiences. Valasara’s installation, konstruksi semesta, semesta yang teralienasi menpertanyakan kediriannya dalam ekspresi tunggal, a series of 25 individual works of various sizes, overall dimensions of 230 x 520cm stood out for its originality.

Adopting the canvas as a standalone medium, along with sewing techniques, he layers and fills the canvas to create 3 dimensional embossed and debossed compositions. His small white figures, presented behind glass revealed his evolving technique with the innovation of his debossed works. Valasara’s attention to narrative development too, revealed an engaging Balinese narrative.

widyantara-i-gede-late-hero-115-x-81-cm-acrylic-on-canvas-2015Gede Widyantara’s Last Hero 2016 which may be viewed upside down to reveal a demonic face.

Traces Under the Surface: Batuan Painting Exhibition, 3 June -31 July at TiTian Art Space, Ubud explored artistic lineage that evolved in the renowned village of traditional painting, Batuan. The exhibition focussed upon the teacher/student relationship following on from Nyoman Ngendon (1906-1946), a multi talented artist and innovator who experimented with perspectives, creating “unreal” 3 dimensionality within the early rigid framework of the Batuan paintings. Ngendon’s great distinction was that he believed in sharing his techniques, while persuading his students to break with traditions and become art innovators themselves.

Traces Under the Surface featured the lineage of Wayan Taweng (1922-2004) who learned to paint primarily from Ngendon, beginning at the age of eight, and later teaching his sons Ketut Sadia (b.1966), Wayan Diana (b.1977) and Made Griyawan (b.1979), along with others. Paintings by the fore mentioned Balinese artists, and Taweng’s grandson Gede Widyantara (b.1984) proved to be some of the finest examples of the Batuan genre and its process of innovation. Widyantara’s talent, that belies his age, reveals that the future of Batuan painting will indeed by exciting.

imhatthai-suwwathanasilp-murnis-temple-mixed-media-human-hair-thread-wood-glue-31-x-18-x-10-cm-image-courtesy-of-ketemu-project-spaceSleeping Murni by Thai artist Imhathai Suwatthanaslip, made with Murni’s hair.

A unique, palpable buzz welcomed the opening of Merayakan Murni (Celebrating Murni) 16 July at Sudakara Art Space, Sanur. The project, which gathered local and regional artists to create works in response to the legacy of the iconic female Balinese artist I GAK Murniasih (1966-2006) “Murni” proved to be one of the most anticipated Bali art events of recent history. Some of the highlights were works by artists Illa from Singapore, renowned Dutch “Indonesian” artist Mella Jaarsma, Imhathai Suwatthanaslip from Thailand, along with Punia Atmaja and Citra Sasmita from Bali.

Murni was an artist of rare quality, unequalled in Indonesia at least. Along with such reverence comes great emotional attachment to the artist by her many friends and admirers, the exhibition therefore was not without critics. Some critics stated the Sudakara venue was too small and the exhibition included too many international artists, and as a consequence failed grant enough space in order for Murni’s ouvre to be fully appreciated by the audience, many of which had yet to be exposed to her work.

Others thought the exhibition overly ambitious, attempting to achieve too much, too soon, while the film about Murni could have represented a more positive theme. Event organizers Ketemu Project Space, along with their young and energetic team proved, however that their presence on the Bali art scene is indeed exciting, with enormous, yet to be realized potential.

20160703_112528                            At The Point of View#4 – Radwin Nurlatif

At The Point of View opened Friday 1 July at Santrian Gallery Sanur, with Radwin Nurlatif presenting one of the most outstanding photography exhibitions of 2016. Curated by Rifky Effendy, the exhibition captivated not only for its high standards of technical quality and presentation of superbly beautiful aesthetic and conceptual images (giclée prints on Hahnemühle photo rag ultra smooth 305 gsm), yet in the simplicity of some of the digital images that wonderfully contrasted women with nature, or women in surreal compositions.

kemal-ezedine-2016-asj-image-richard-horstmanKemal Ezedine was represented by Edwin’s Gallery Jakarta at Art Stage Jakarta 2016

The presence of Balinese artists at Indonesia’s two international art fairs held in Jakarta, Art Stage Jakarta 5-7 August & Bazaar Art Jakarta 2016 25-28 August help to consolidate Bali’s growing presence on the Indonesian art world, which during recent years has tended to be dominated by artists from Java and West Sumatra. While Art Stage, among its hundreds of exhibitors featured only three Indonesian Bali based artists, Agung Mangu Putra, Made Valasara and Kemal Ezedine (along with Ashley Bickerton), Bazaar Art Jakarta, on the other hand featured the work of 13 artists.

From the traditional genre was Nyoman Meja (b. 1950, Ubud), others artists present were Nyoman Gunarsa, Made Wianta, Nyoman Erawan, Agung Mangu Putra, Gede Mahendra Yasa, Wayan Kun Adnyana, Teja Astawa, Kemal Ezedine, Ketut Moniarta, Tang Adiawan, Putu Wirantawan, Wayan Mandiyasa and Ketut Sumadi. Erawan’s installation at the Mon Décor Art One booth provided a strong contrast to what was on display at the fair, while being deeply engaging.

mangu-putra-pura-puncak-mangu-2016-oil-on-canvas-200x300cm                Pura Puncak Mangu 2016 – Agung Mangu Putra

Paskal Gallery’s acute eye for display, allowing attendees from a distance to be captured by the alluring and mysterious qualities of the 190 x 290 cm oil on canvas composition Pura Puncak Mangu, by Agung Mangu Putra confirmed why he is regarded as one of Indonesia’s most respected painters. His scene of a group of Balinese people praying at the remote mountain top temple in Buleleng was one of the highlights of Bazaar Art. The Neo Pitamaha collective made a strong presence at Bazaar Art with works exhibited by four artists and Jakarta’s Edwin’s Gallery confirmed their confidence in Kemal Ezedine by dedicating their entire booth at both fairs to the Ubud resident artist.

Sanur based Swedish painter Richard Winkler, also present at both fairs represented by Zola Zulu Gallery of Bandung, also enjoyed strong sales with his eye-catching and technically brilliant ‘utopian Bali’ compositions. Sotheby’s presented contemporary works by Mangu Putra and Mahendra Yasa in the preview of their Hong Kong Autumn Sale, while Sidharta Auctioneers presented Gunarsa and Meja, and ISA Art Advisory presented modern works by Arie Smit (1919-2016) and Adrian Le Mayeur (1880-1958).

ida-bagus-made-nadera-fajar-mengjingsing-1949                   Ida Bagus Made Nadera – Fadjar Mengjingsing 1945

A landmark event in the history of Indonesian modern art, held from 2 – 30 August at Jakarta’s National Gallery of Indonesia was 17/71, Goresan Juang Kemerdekaan (Brushstrokes of the Independence Struggle). Presenting 28 paintings from the collection (over 3000 works) assembled by Indonesia’s founding father President Sukarno the exhibition was opened on August 17th, on the 71st anniversary of the proclamation of independence by the Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Ida Bagus Made Nadera’s (1912-1988) beautiful 188 x 300 cm modern traditional composition Fadjar Mengjingsing made a special presence, along with works by Walter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet in an exhibition featuring scenes of the independence struggle by Indonesian maestros such as Affandi, Sudjojono and Srihadi alongside pictures of iconic Indonesia.

20160827_191628                                                  Arie Smit (1916-2016)

During the 27 August seminar at Ubud’s Neka Art Museum, a gathering of over 100 members of the Balinese art community, and distinguished guests Suteja Neka and Agung Rai, and paid homage to the legacy of the Dutch post-modern colourist Arie Smit (1916-2016). The iconic painter, who left a distinguished mark in the history of art in the region, passed away 23 March, only days short of his 100th birthday.

Renowned for his vibrant landscape paintings and scenes of Balinese village life Smit is a much-loved artist; his work forms part of collections in Indonesia, and throughout the world.

He started teaching painting to young boys in the village of Penestanan in 1960, beginning the “Young Artists Style”, while at its height there were more than 300 practitioners. He helped transform the village, and prosper economically, being both an art teacher and a father figure to the village. Smit’s passing is a monumental loss to the canon of Southeast Asian art, while the Young Artist Style is one of the most exciting developments in Balinese art in the later half of the 20th Century.

made-wianta-receives-the-award-from-bali-governor-mangu-pastikaMade Wianta receives the Bali Mandara Parama Nugraha 2016 Award from the Governor Mangku Pastika.

A special 30 August ceremony at Taman Budaya Cultural Center Denpasar by the Bali Government honoured local figures who have made important contributions to Bali. An icon of Bali contemporary art, internationally renowned, Made Wianta (b. 1949, Tabanan) received the Bali Mandara Parama Nugraha 2016 Award from the Governor Mangku Pastika in highest appreciation of promoting Bali through contemporary art.

14642015_1359257894086482_2982552466485278854_n

Often overshadowed by the southern regencies of Gianyar, Badung and Tabanan, Buleleng is not only home to a unique Balinese art history (Van Der Tuuk in 1845 and his commissioning of Balinese artists work for his research into the first dictionary of the Balinese language), yet a community of talented artists. Exhibitions by artists from Buleleng are held annually in the southern regencies, and on 22 October Qilin – Membaca Social Budaya Warga Pecinan Kota Singaraja (Socio-cultural readings of Singaraja’s Chinatown Residents) opened at Neka Art Museum in Ubud, and continued for one month.

Based upon curatorial research led by Hardiman, from the Art Department of UNDISKHA University in Singaraja, along with his young team of Made Susanta Dwitanaya, Dewa Gede Purwita, Ketut Wisana Ariyanto and Gede Panca Gautama, into the culture of the Chinese Tionghoa community, the group exhibition delved into spiritual and religious practises, artefacts and there traces, stories from their literature, and portraits of figures from the community. Of the many highlights were the eight collective works, including Spreading Qilin, an installation of terracotta Chinese dragon characters.

20161023_161947A Brutal Contrast of Concrete and Kamasan Painting combined street art along with paintings from selected emerging local talent from Batuan, Ubud, Tabanan and Denpasar.

Cahyendra Putra and the Neo Pitamaha Invite You To: A Brutal Contrast of Concrete and Kamasan Painting opened 23 October will be recorded in the annals of Balinese art history. The outsider exhibition, which in many ways was noteworthy, was underpinned by a long-awaited and fresh approach to presenting art in Ubud, outside of the conventional gallery, art space and museum format.

This collaborative project, organized by Kemal Ezedine, features street art by artists from Bali & Jakarta, along with paintings from selected emerging local talent from Batuan, Ubud, Tabanan and Denpasar. Set within the gutted interior of a building, twenty young artists revealed their interpretation of the famous Bali 1930’s Pita Maha artist’s association in dynamic contemporary art that challenges the establishment. Highlights included works by Wayan Budiarta, Wayan Aris Sumanta and street artists Ego, Saf, Ola, and Slinart.

20160817_111722                                      Bali LandscapesWillem Kerseboom

Bali Landscapes by Dutch painter Willem Kerseboom opened at TiTian Art Space, Ubud 28 October (continuing until late January 2017). Kerseboom, who shares his time between Holland/Belgium and his home North Bali presented acrylic landscape compositions of a rare quality. His imaginary, abstract snapshots, are deeply engaging, while being a fine creative contribution to the long line of Dutch artists who have been inspired by Bali.

jiri-kudrna-light-plane-photography                             Light Plain Photographs – Jiri Kudrna

Ubud based Swiss engineer and software developer Jiri Kudrna, a pioneer in experimental photography has made major contributions to the development of contemporary photography. Kudrna’s contributions to Age of Photography #2, open 15 – 28 November at the National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta were from his inventions that created Light Plain Photographs (LPP), and his three interactive installations, Space – Time Variations.

 LPP’s are fantastic images using a plain of light and a camera to record photographs with unique optic effects – a fusion of the four-time space dimensions – while the subject is housed within a dark room and participates within their own unique photographic procedure. Kudrna’s Space – Time Variations were very popular with exhibition audience who created over 1800 pictures in four days, and were also able to upload the images onto social media platforms.

Power Playing works by Arum & Ida Adi.jpg                      Power Playing – Images by Arum & Ida Adi at Lingkara

Lingkara Photography Community of Denpasar is an alternative platform for contemporary photographers in Bali. Over recent years Lingkara have presented a range of quality collaborative exhibitions and events. Driven by a small core group of dedicated artists Lingkara not only strive to support the collective, yet seek out professional opportunities by engaging with and representing artists via product development and management.

Power Playing opened 20 November presenting mostly large-scale works by Candra Mpu Glimblond, Christina Arum, Ida Adi, Ismail Ilmi, Rudi Waisnawa and S.R. Awy. While the artists individual techniques involved varying processes, such as re printing images, painting, collage with the help of additional tools, mirrors, candles and magnifying tools to make impressions, the final large-scale results which were applied to the walls were a single photograph without digital enhancement. Lingkara are making important contributions to the development of contemporary photography in Bali and Power Playing was a very strong collective showing, while Arum’s technically labor intensive work was one of the highlights.

mangu-putra-2016-puputan-badung-the-fall-of-badung-kingdom-2-oil-on-canvas-370-x-150-cm         Puputan Badung 1906 (The Fall of Badung Kingdom # 1) – Agung Mangu Putra

Agung Mangu Putra: Between History and the Quotidian ran from 25 November – 12 December at Singapore’s Gajah Gallery. Mangu Putra continues his research into critical Dutch colonial events that shaped Indonesian and Balinese history. Highlights were Puputan Badung 1906 (The Fall of Badung Kingdom # 1& 2) 2016 & 2014, compositions pieced together from archival accounts and images into enormous paintings up 370 x 1590 cm in size. The works reveal the story of the Dutch colonial army’s confrontation with the Kingdom of Badung in Kesiman, Denpasar in 1906 that resulted in the tragic puputan event (act of ritual suicide).

Mangu Putra’s investigation into these events are important because these events occurred during a crucial era of the nation’s history and theses events without more historical examination may become historical myths.

20170103_170338                     Ashley Bickerton‘s sculptures at Follow the White Cube

The Pop-Up gallery concept is new to Ubud, Bali and was successfully adopted by Honold Fine Art twice in 2016. Follow the White Cube opened 26 November at Italian artist Filippo Sciascia’s studio in Nyuh Kuning. The exhibition featured work by artists Jumaldi Alfi, Marco Cassani, Ashley Bickerton, Fendry Ekel, Bepi Ghiotti, Yusra Mantunus, Narcisse Tordior and Filippo Sciascia.

Set within a ‘white cube’ display areas that lent well to strong, yet conventional viewing experience, the works ranged from paintings through to sculpture, installation and video art presented exciting contrasts. While the spontaneity of the Pop-Up concept is a fresh and much-needed addition to the Ubud art scene.

doors-of-perception-made-aswino-aji                              Doors of Perception 2016 – Made Aji Aswino

CROSSING: Beyond Baliseering presented some of the finest emerging contemporary artist from Bali at Forty-Five Downstairs Gallery, Melbourne, Australia, open 6 December. Reflecting upon Bali’s visual and social culture while exploring themes of personal life experiences, environmental, social and political issues in the contemporary society, the exhibition showcased paintings, photography, sculptures, and large-scale installations.

In the most important international group showing of Balinese contemporary art outside of Indonesia that featured Art of Whatever, Made Aji Aswino, Budi Agung Kuswara, Citra Sasmita, Kemal Ezedine, Made ‘Dalbo’ Suarimbawa, Natisa Jones, Slinat, Made Valasara, Wayan Upadana and Yoesoef Olla, highlights included Aswino Aji’s monumental two-sided wood craving installation, Doors of Perception 2016, 250 x 300 x 80 cm, a representation of a candi (traditional Balinese temple entry), along with works by‘Dalbo’ Suarimbawa, Upadana, Slinart and Citra Sasmita.

5-kasper-x-nedsone-teges-ubud                                 Lukas Kasper& Nedsone at work during Way Up

Bali’s ever evolving street art movement is increasingly discovering new sights to enliven along the streets of urban Denpasar and within the villages of the Badung and Gianyar Regencies. Way UpStreet Art Collaboration Project initiated by Cata Odata, Allcapsstore and Lukas Kasper began in November 2016 and will continue through until the end of January 2017.

The project was born through the meeting of Cata Odata and Australian artist Lukas Kasper beginning with the idea to contribute vibrantly to Ubud’s street areas and to collaborate with nine street artists from Bali on 20 walls. Local artists include Nedsone, Kmis3, Lezart, Slinat, Yapstwo, Sleeck, and 1escv. The event included the Way Up online map on the website and the 17 December Spray Jam workshop, and Kelas Belajar sharing session 18 December at Cata Odat, and the #UbudScavengerHunt. 17 December through 11 January which will include a prize to the winner.

http://way-up.cataodata.com/follow-the-map.html

putu-wirantawan-2016                  Contemporary Art from Bali – Installation by Putu Wirantawan 2016

Contemporary Art from Bali opened 15 December at LAF (Langgeng Art Foundation) Yogyakarta, and continues through until 31 January 2017. Curated by Rifky Effendy and Gede Mahendra Yasa the show featured some of the finest contemporary artists currently working in Bali, foreigners, Indonesians and Balinese: Ketut Susena, Ketut Samadi, Made Aswino Aji, Teja Astawa, Natisa Jones, Wayan Mandiyasa, Ketut Suwidiarta, Putu Wirantawan, Ashley Bickerton, Marco Cassani, Filippo Sciascia, Ketut Moniarta, Kemal Ezedine, Wayan Upadana, Made Valasara and Rodney Glick.

Overshadowed by the traditional art scene, and often overlooked within the context of the Indonesian art world contemporary art and the art infrastructure is on the rise in Bali. Making an important statement within the context of Indonesian contemporary art, in the Javanese cultural and creative heartland with its ever-evolving art infrastructure and eco system, this exhibition is the most important collective showing of contemporary art from Bali held in Indonesia in 2016.

20161230_175209                        Inside of Being  – Installation by Pande Ketut Taman 2016

The 30 December opening at the Tony Raka Art Gallery punctuated the end of 2016 and friendship and creative achievement by four Balinese contemporary artists, alumni of the Indonesian Art Insititue SI Yogyakarta. Inside of Being highlighted the talents of Putu Sutawijaya, Made Sumadiyasa, Made Mahendra Mangku & Pande Ketut Taman, artists who have shared friendships for over 30 years, while at the same time during their individual careers making significant contributions to the development of Balinese art. The exhibition, which includes paintings, both small and large-scale, and installations will continue through until 30 January, including an Artist’s Talk from 3pm 5 January at Tony Raka Art Gallery.

Such a report would not be fully complete without highlighting the stoic efforts of Warih Witsatsana and his small army of dedicated assistants at the Bentara Budaya Bali Cultural Center. Their consistent weekly programs throughout the year are a shining light in the support and development of Bali’s thriving creative culture.

With an emphasis upon education via lectures, discussions, presentations and hands on workshops, especially for the younger generations, Bentara Budaya’s one of a kind model is an inspiration to other aspiring art and cultural facilities on the island. 2016’s broad range of events, including numerous collaborations with international artists, institutes, and organizations highlights their open platform to global cultural expressions, while underlining Bali’s internationally renowned welcoming attitude to foreign cultures and creative expressions.

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Richard Horstman & various photographers

 

 

 

 

CROSSING: Beyond Baliseering

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Narasi Menunngu Lahiran (The Anticipation of Giving Birth) 2016 –  Made ‘Dalbo’ Suarimbawa, in the foreground, background: The Fireflies #1 2016 – Budi Agung Kuswara

 

Bali holds a special place within the hearts of many Australians and while Balinese traditional art has long been recognized as an international icon, Australian audiences however, know little, or nothing about contemporary art from Bali.

As a platform for understanding contemporary Balinese and Indonesian culture, and maintaining a cultural bridge between Indonesia and Australia, Crossing: Beyond Baliseering, a group showing of emerging contemporary artists from Bali opened 6 December at FortyFive Downstairs Gallery in Melbourne.

doors-of-perception-made-aswino-aji                                  Doors of Perception 2016 –  Made Aswino Aji

Crossing: Beyond Baliseering reflects upon Bali’s visual and social culture while exploring themes of personal life experiences, environmental, social and political issues in the contemporary society, showcasing a range of paintings, photography, sculptures, and large-scale installations by some of the finest artists in Bali.

Presented by Project 11 as part of Multicultural Arts Victoria’s Asian contemporary arts festival Mapping Melbourne 2016, the exhibition features work by Art of Whatever, Made Aji Aswino, Budi Agung Kuswara, Citra Sasmita, Kemal Ezedine, Made ‘Dalbo’ Suarimbawa, Natisa Jones, Slinat, Made Valasara, Wayan Upadana and Yoesoef Olla.

20160913_121758                                 Let’s Play Series #2 2016  – YoesoefOlla

The policy of ‘Baliseering’ was first introduced in the 1920’s by the Dutch colonial government to train locals to continue the traditional arts of dance, theater, painting, sculpture and literature. Visually, this meant that art portrayed scenes of the Balinese in cultural activities and ‘authentic’ settings that became fastened in the Balinese art identity through the media and tourism.

Attended by members of Melbourne’s Indonesian community along with the local art community, FortyFive Downstairs Gallery, situated in the inner city gallery precinct, was full with enthusiastic art lovers during the opening.  While warmly welcoming the foreign artist’s, many of the audience engaged deeply with both the artists and their artworks.

20161206_171049                                 Mea Vulva, Maxima Vulva 2016  –  Citra Sasmita’s

Made Aji Aswino is an avid critic of Indonesian and Balinese society, focusing especially upon the pitfalls of the human ego. Aji exhibited a monumental two-sided wood craving installation, Doors of Perception 2016, 250 x 300 x 80 cm, a representation of a candi (traditional Balinese temple entry). The outside of the entry features craved figurines and faces of ego monsters, along with typical iconography to be found in Balinese wood cravings.

Vibrantly painted figures adorn the work with long conical noses echoing a Pinocchio-like-character – a reflection on the pretensions and lies of everyday society the artist witnesses. The dynamic colors of the outside of the entrance represent varieties of ‘disorderly’ personalities, while the inner side of Doors of Perception reflects duality, painted in subdued monochrome representing the ‘peaceful’ personalities.

baliseering-kemal-ezedine                                         Baliseering 2016 – KemalEzedine

Kemal Ezedine presents Baliseering 2016, 180x 300 cm, a mixed media narration about the influence of the Dutch Colonial government in shaping the political identity of Bali. His colorful mixed media work  combines and layers the techniques of a traditional Indonesian painting method adapted from European practices alia prima, or the direct painting technique, with graphic techniques inspired by Balinese scared drawings, and Indonesian social realism art. The results are a dynamic composition layered with technical and philosophical meanings.

One of Bali’s most well-known emerging artists Wayan Upadana exhibited three excellent works, Globalisation Euphoria 2010 features a chocolate covered Rangda reclining in a white bath tub, while Glo(BABI)sation 2013 a chocolate coated pig relaxing in a modern kitchen sink. Si Gendut Pencari Tuhan (Fatty the God Seeker) 2013 on the other hand features a Barong masks attached to a fat naked body sitting in the lotus position. Upadana makes critical social references while adapting icons of the Balinese culture in his polyester resin works that are technically and conceptually strong.

20161206_171301           Si Gendut Pencari Tuhan (Fatty the God Seeker) 2013 – Wayan Upadana

Two dimensional works featuring contrasting images of iconic Bali are presented by Budi Agung Kuswara, The Fireflies # 1&2, 2016, Golden Farmer, 2016, both cyanotype (photogram) and pigment prints on archival paper provide strong aesthetic impacts while being interesting departures in media adaptation and technical skills. Natisa Jones exhibits two engaging abstract figurative compositions that reflect on identity, while Made Valasara presents his signature canvas relief works that break with the conventions of Balinese traditional painting.

 Pantaggruelisme 2016 utilizes polyethylene terephthalate stuffed in canvas, while in The True Portion of David 2014 Valasara uses laminated canvas. Adopting the canvas as a standalone medium, along with sewing techniques, he layers and fills the canvas to create 3 dimensional embossed, or as in The True Portion of David debossed compositions.

20161206_172001                                 The True Portion of David 2014 – Valasara

Art of Whatever’s Everyday is Sunday 2016 invites people to sit, relax and reflect upon his functional art creation.  The colorful three meter couch shaped into a reclining figure with tentacles for a head, along with matching helmets were popular with the audience, many opting to loll and engage in the light-hearted art experience.

Yoeseof Olla Let’s Play Series # 1,2&3 2016, features three leather wall hangings, compositions in permanent marker that combine pop and street art imagery that parodies the popular international perception of Islam and the burqa wearing Muslim women.

One of the strongest works in the exhibition is Narasi Menunngu Lahiran (The Anticipation of Giving Birth) 2016, a sculptural mother and child representation by Made ‘Dalbo’ Suarimbawa. During recent years Dalbo has been experimenting with paper upon his two-dimensional compositions, Narasi Menunngu Lahiran however reveals his greater commitment to technical skill and concept in this enthralling installation that reveals incredible attention to details and defines him as an artist of unique talent.

20160911_160047                                 Everyday is Sunday 2016  – Art of Whatever

Citra Sasmita’s works make strong statements about gender politics within the patriarchal Balinese society. Always confronting, Citra exhibits three works, two paintings and one installation, Mea Vulva, Maxima Vulva 2016 that features ceramic vagina’s within a set of scales and comments upon social class distinctions.

Street artist Slinat (Silly in Art) presents a poignant and intriguing installation Ironic, Ironic Island 2016 that features his signature gas masked figures upon wooden windows and doors adopting imagery from iconic paintings by Abdul Aziz. He contrasts Bali’s exotic and peaceful international tourism marketing identity with current social and economic issues that are currently confronting the people of Bali.

20161206_173918                                   Ironic, Ironic Island 2016 – Slinat

Crossing: Beyond Baliseering

Continues through 17 December 2016,

FortyFive Downstairs Gallery

45 Flinder’s Lane, Melbourne.

Open: Tuesday – Friday 11am – 5pm

Saturday 12pm – 4pm

+613 9662 9966

20161206_170438                                    Sitting at Home 2014 – Natisa Jones

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

Mangu Putra: Between History and the Quotidian

mangu-putra-2016-puputan-badung-the-fall-of-badung-kingdom-2-oil-on-canvas-370-x-150-cm                     Puputan Badung #2 2016 (The Fall of the Badung Kingdom)

After a wait of six years Bali’s most important painter Agung Mangu Putra has followed on from Teater Rakyat (People Theater), his landmark 2010 exhibition at Galeri Nasional Indonesia, Jakarta.

Mangu Putra: Between History and the Quotidian opened at Singapore’s Gajah Gallery 25 November, featuring nine paintings made between 2013 – 2016. Renowned for his technical abilities, and his commitment to environmental, social and historical themes that trigger deep sentiments, Mangu Putra’s hyper realism style communicates important narratives that ignite potent emotions.

mangu-putra-2015-puputan-badung-the-fall-of-badung-kingdom-1906-oil-on-canvas-190x390-cm                    Puptan Badung #1 2015 (The Fall of the Kingdom of Badung)

Spiritual Landscapes, Mangu Putra’s 2005 solo exhibition in Gajah Gallery was an offering of gratitude to the landscape of his homeland, and his Balinese Hindu culture, paying homage via dramatic monochrome compositions that reflect his deep sense of spirituality. In Teater Rakyat (People Theater) Mangu Putra’s critical social commentary came to the fore. He focused upon the marginalized within the Balinese society, people from the economically destitute regions of Bali, female gender politics, the forgotten Independence War veterans who bravely confronted the KNIL Dutch forces between 1945-49.

In Between History and the Quotidian Mangu Putra continues his research and discovery into critical Dutch colonial events that shaped Indonesian and Balinese history. Puputan Badung 1906 (The Fall of Badung Kingdom # 1, 2 &3) 2016, 2016 & 2014 have been “pieced together” from archival accounts and images sourced from the internet into enormous compositions ranging in size up 190 x 390 cm. Telling the story of the Dutch colonial army’s confrontation with the Kingdom of Badung in Kesiman, Denpasar in 1906 that resulted in the tragic puputan event (act of ritual suicide).

mangu-putra-2015-puputan-badung-the-fall-of-badung-kingdom-3-oil-on-linen-200-x-154-cm                         Puptan Badung #3 2014 (The Fall of the Kingdom of Badung)

Jim Supangkat in the exhibition catalogue writes, “Mangu Putra never translates exact copies of those photographs into his works, instead he sometimes manipulates several photos and incorporates them into his paintings.”

The painting tells the story of the Dutch colonial army’s confrontation with the Kingdom of Badung in Kesiman, Denpasar in 1906, that resulted in the tragic puputan event (act of ritual suicide) when the Balinese rulers chose to fight to the death rather than surrender.

The Fall of Badung Kingdom # 2, 2016 reveals senior officials of the Dutch army seated behind the body of the Raja of Badung, I Gusti Ngurah Made Agung, in a post puputan pose, a reconstruction of possible events. Mangu Putra positions the Raja’s throne next to his prostrate body as a symbolic gesture.

mangu-putra-2016-adu-jago-1947-oil-on-linen-200-x-200-cm                                        Adu Jago (Cock Fight) 2016

Of most interests, however is The Fall of Badung Kingdom # 1, 2015 in which the artist plays a central role, depicted as focal point of the composition dressed as a soldier with a rifle slung across his shoulders. Mangu Putra makes reference to the event in which he has family ties, being a distant relative to the family of the Kingdom of Badung.

“Mangu Putra does not reproduce reality as with other realistic paintings, but paints his account of the light’s reflection,” said Supangkat of Mangu Putra’s technique.

“The resulting image is a textured realistic painting, with apparent contrasting effects caused by the beam of light on the painted surface. The aesthetic qualities present in his works – lines, textures, contrast effects – as a result permeate a narrative filled story on his canvases.”

mangu-putra-2016-dalam-pengawasan-kolonial-200-x-200-cm-oil-on-linen           Dalam Pengawasan Kolonial 2016 (Under Colonial Supervision)

“Mangu Putra, like many of Bali’s modern and contemporary artists, was trained in Yogyakarta at Indonesia’s premier art school, ISI, the Institute Seni Indonesia,” states Professor of Southeast Asian History Adrian Vickers in the exhibition catalogue.

“Unlike many others who emerged through painting, Mangu Putra was trained in graphic arts and design, and his original career was in advertising. The sensibilities he developed in presenting the mundane to the world meant that he is attuned to the effect power of images. He turned to problems of how such images should be made to work in the world in a more critical fashion.”

In Eksekusi Letda Reta (Execution of Letda Reta), 2014, Mangu Putra depicts the execution of his uncle I Gusti Agung Alit Reta, who along with his father both fought in the Independence War, Alit Reta being captured and later executed by the Dutch. In the painting he appropriates the style of Francisco Goya’s The Third of May (1814) – which depicts a death sentence served on a rebel farmer by a Spanish firing squad. Here Mangu Putra imagines the moment of his uncle’s execution as one of defiance.

mangu-putra-2014-eksekusi-letda-reta-oil-on-canvas-190-x-290-cm                            Eksekusi Letda Reta (Execution of Letda Reta), 2014

Adu Jago (Cock Fight) 2016 reveals a scene where Dutch troops and Balinese are watching a cock-fight. One roaster yells to the other: “Are you ready to surrender?” The other responds: “I am not going to retreat.” According to Supangkat the universal message in this painting, along with Eksekusi Letda Reta is that the concept of authority is a threat that has never subsided, though the power behind that authority may always change.

In Transit? 2016 Mangu Putra reveals an extremely interesting, yet little known story within the history of the Dutch East Indies of a Germany aircraft, with swastika emblems, that flew from Brandenberg, Germany to Medan, Sumatra, Batavia, Surabaya and landed in Buleleng, Bali 7 January 1938.

“Photographs contain layers of narratives, and within these there are always hidden meanings that I am driven to delve into,” said Mangu Putra.

mangu-putra-2016-transit-oil-on-canvas-390x190-cm                                              Transit? 2016

“Mangu Putra is not a historian, yet his intuition is sharp in detecting these milestones in history. He feels that these phenomenal milestones are substantial to further the research on the connection between Indonesian and world history, writes Supangkat in summing up his essay titled “Identity Politics” in the exhibition catalogue, and later continues,

“Indonesian history still requires the pursuit of historical examination, so that history doesn’t become a myth of the present,”

Both Mangu Putra’s investigation along with Jim Supangkat’s accompanying essay are important documentations of a crucial era of the nation’s history and collectively combine into one of the most important Indonesian contemporary art exhibitions in recent history.

mangu-putra-2016-menjelang-merdeka-acrylic-on-linen-70x80cm                       Menjelang Merdeka 2016 (Towards Freedom)

Mangu Putra: Between History and the Quotidian

25 November – 11 December 2016.

Gajah Gallery Singapore

 

Words: Richard Horstman

 

Wayan Karja: From a ‘Young Artist’ to Balinese Visionary

p21iwayan-img_assist_custom-511x337                                                       Wayan Karja

Within every Balinese village there is a tale or two to be told.

The association between the master and pupil has played a vital role in the development of Balinese traditional art. The bonds amid teacher and student, father and son, or among relatives have enabled the sharing of ideas, support and tuition. Such relationships helped categorize Balinese art by village styles or ‘schools’.

In the late1920’s – 30’s, Balinese art was being revolutionized and adapted for foreign tastes. The two-dimensional Hindu narratives, Kamasan or Wayang paintings met head on with western aesthetics and the results were dramatic. The development of tourism created large markets for these new paintings, and localized schools of art, such as the Ubud, Sanur and Batuan schools, came to the fore.

20160804_184737                                                “Cosmic Energy 2016”

Fast forward to 1959 when Arie Smit, an accomplished Dutch artist living in Penestanan began sharing art materials with, and teaching young boys in the village. This was the beginning of the “Young Artists” style, and at its height there was about 300 village practitioners. Colorful and fresh, it was very popular in the 1970’s as tourism was enjoying a revival. Penestanan has a distinctive artistic history of its own.

This tale however, is about a painter, art educator and administrator from the village who has succeeded in creating a unique artistic voice within the framework of Balinese modern art.

Wayan Karja’s earliest memories are of sitting in his father’s lap with a paintbrush in hand.

“My father often guided my hand through sketches or marked areas within a composition that I would fill in with color,” Karja says. “I was very lucky to grow up in a thriving art environment, every member of my family within the compound was painting, even the women too. This intense activity was inspirational.”

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Born in Penestanan in 1965 Karja’s natural ability and birthright automatically sealed his fate. Determined to learn more about art he received a wealth of local and international art education. Karja studied in Switzerland in 2008-11 painting abstract landscapes, while in 1997-99 he undertook an art scholarship at the University of South Florida, USA. At the School of Fine Arts, Denpasar, 1981-85 he broadened his knowledge of art theory and international art, and then at the Udayana University in Denpasar, 1985-1990 delved into impressionism and abstraction, and was inspired by Monet, Van Gogh and Matisse.

From 1978-81 Karja studied the Ubud style learning about light, shade and the anatomy. As a child he was introduced to the master pupil association and trained for many years under the watchful eye of his father Ketut Santra who gave him his indoctrination into the “Young Artist” style. “There were no galleries at that time so the buyers came direct to the artist’s home. At the age of 10 I sold my first painting,” Karja recalls.

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In 1994 upon visiting a museum in Switzerland Karja had his most profound art experience. One that began his love affair with modern art. He observed a pure red composition by the American abstract painter Mark Rothko.

“Is this what they call art?” Was Karja’s cynical response.

Yet by the time Karja had completed his tour of the museum the significance of the work was understood. Rothko’s work leapt out from the walls and “spoke” to him unlike any other artist had previously done. Rarely had an Indonesian artist adopted color as their sole message, least of all the Balinese.

“Balinese art is about tight configurations of patterns, details and narratives yet I was always driven to search into its philosophies.” Karja’s journey eventually led him to a deep exploration of cross-cultural thinking and he began combining the philosophy of the Balinese Hindu Mandala colors with modern western techniques. Karja’s initial response to the colors and movement of his environment (landscape and culture) had been based on emotion, yet the impact of Rothko and other western painters demanded from him a new sense of selfexpression.

“Balinese abstraction developed in the 1970’s yet it was different to the western model. Most of our creations are deeply rooted in traditions including icons, symbolic and non-symbolic elements, as well as philosophical and spiritual aspects of the Balinese way of life.” Karja’s direction evolved through intellectual endeavor, “Allowing my work to become simpler and more spiritual,” Karja says.

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Karja’s technique involves building layers of color, often in drips and with the use of watered down medium often creating swirling and dynamic organic forms. The works may be subtle and shimmering, or powerfully vibrant. They are always inviting, meditative and mysterious, creating aesthetic contrasts between the landscape and the cosmos.

“There is no separation between art and life,” Karja says. “Life is color and my physical and spiritual journey is to become an accomplished colorist painter.”

His contribution, via teaching, to the development of Balinese art has been substantial. Karja began in 1990 at the School of Fine Arts in Ubud and then at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI) in Denpasar where he continues teaching to this day. Over the years he has taught locally and abroad holding various positions, from 2002-04 as head of the Fine Arts Dept., Indonesian College of the Arts (STSI), Denpasar and from 2004-08 as the Dean of the Visual Arts Department at ISI.

“I enjoyed and benefited from this experience,” he says. “However being an administrator took me away from my artistic dreams.”

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Karja has exhibited in many international countries and frequently travels locally and abroad giving lectures, speeches and engaging in collaborative projects. At his family’s guesthouse Santra Putra in Penestanan is his gallery and studio, along with a space open to the public for workshops and events, where he teaches tourists and often hosts exhibitions by young local artists.

“Journey to the Unknown” Karja’s March 2015 exhibition in Jakarta showcased 42 paintings created between 2010-15 was an outstanding success. “The audience’s response was excellent, nonetheless I experienced an unexpected sense of liberation. I realized to complete a procession from childhood through to adulthood, my transition from a world of freedom to one dominated by mental activity, in order to sustain my creative journey I have to return to a childlike state.”

“I have now opened a new door with the motto – play, flow and free. I am invigorated and my works reflect a new joy,” Karja says.

“Now I am learning how to play again.”

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http://www.wayankarja.com

Words: Richard Horstman