Category Archives: Balinese Modern Art

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

Sukari Saat Melukis                       Nyoman Sukari at work in his Yogyakarta studio

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Geneieve Couteau (1925 - 2013)                                         Genevieve Couteau

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

Geneieve Couteau                                Painting by Genevieve Couteau

 

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

Sketch by Geneieve Couteau                             Sketch by Genevieve Couteau

 

Painting by Geneieve Couteau

 

Oil on canvas painting by Geneieve Couteau                                      Paintings by Genevieve Couteau

 

 

Words:     Richard Horstman

Images:   Courtesy of Jean Couteau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rare artworks go under the hammer in the July Larasati Bali auction

Lot 706 "Head of Ayu Ketut" Miguel Covarrubias, lithograph. Image courtesy Larasati                       Head of Ayu Ketut –  Miguel Covarrubias, lithograph

 

The most exciting selection of traditional, modern and contemporary art works for more than a year highlight the second Larasati Bali auction for 2019. Ninety-two items will be offered in the upcoming 20 July, Larasati Traditional, Modern & Contemporary Art Auction to be held at the Larasati Bali Art Space at Tebesaya Gallery, Ubud. The sale has good buying opportunities for those interested in starting a collection, mid level collectors, people with an eye for investing, and of course will attract much attention from the connoisseurs of Balinese painting.

Many distinguished Balinese and international artists are featured in the sale that boasts some unique paintings that are rarely available on the market. The sale, which begins at Saturday 2:30 PM, includes old Balinese masters Ida Bagus Made Poleng, Ida Bagus Made Nadera, Ida Bagus Rai, Wayan Gedot, Anak Agung Gde Meregeg, and Ida Bagus Made Togog, while a rare set of sixteen drawings from the personal sketchbook of the renowned Ida Bagus Nyoman Rai (1915-2000) from Sanur is also available.

Lot 716 "Suasana Pasar Bali" 2006 I Gusti Agung Wiranata. Image courtesy of Larasati                         Suasana Pasar Bali, 2006  – I Gusti Agung Wiranata

 

The works available are in an array of media including sketches in ink and chalk on paper, watercolour, and gouache works on paper, acrylic and oil paintings on canvas, along with mixed media, an etching, lithographs and lithograph reproductions. Some paintings offered come with good local and international provenance.

The sale begins with Indo European Painters of Bali, a selection of nine works by the Willem Gerard Hofker (1902-1981 the Netherlands), Migeul Covarrubias (1904 – 1957 Mexico) and Rudolf Bonnet (1895 – 1978, the Netherlands). Lot 705, Rice Granary, Bali, a lithograph by Covarrubias has an estimated price of between Rp.17 – 12 million. Lot 707 Yogi,1973 by Bonnet is a remarkable watercolour depiction on paper and comes with an estimated price of between Rp30 – 40 million, and Lot 709 by Hofker is an extremely rare oil on canvas self-portrait. A Self Portrait of the Artist, 1961, comes with an estimated price of between Rp. 45 – 55 million.

Lot 753 "Woman with Offering at the Sawah Scene" - Ida Bagus Made Poleng Acrylic on canvas. Image courtesy of Larasati            Woman with Offering at the Sawah Scene – Ida Bagus Made Poleng

 

For those wishing to begin collecting Balinese art there is good, well priced opportunities available. Lot 745 Pementasan Calonarang is an early work by one of the senior and most respected painters of the Yong Artists Style, I Ketut Soki (b. 1946, Penestanan, Ubud). With the distinct, dynamic coloration that defines the genre, this work has an estimated price of between Rp. 7 – 10 million. Another attractive buy, an early work by another senior painter of the same style, I Made Sinteg, is Lot 746 Forest Scene which comes with an estimated price of between Rp 5 – 7 million.

Lot 728, Berburu by I Ketut Regig (Ubud, 1919-2002) has an estimated price of Rp. 5 – 7 million, Mythological Scene, Lot 791 by I Gusit Nyoman Moleh (1918 – 1997) comes with an estimated price of between Rp 7 – 10 million, and Lot 729, Ikan-ikan, a rare small acrylic work by I Made Sukada (Ubud 1945 – 1982) with an estimated price of Rp 2.6 – 3.6 million are also good opportunities for beginners to enter the market.

Lot 728 "Berburu" - Ketut Regig, acrylic on canvas. Image courtesy of Larasati                                        Berburu – Ketut Regig

 

Collecting with an eye for investment? The following lots provide strong investment opportunities especially if purchased within the estimated prices and then matched with a long term view of holding for at least 10 – 15 years before reselling. I Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniashi (Murni) (1966-2006) is agruably Indonesia’s most important female artist and has been recently featured in many exhibitions in high profile Indonesian galleries.

Lot 786, Saya Bahagia Sekali di Hari Itu has an estimated price of between Rp. 15 – 18 million, and also with the same estimated price, Lot 787 Antar Benci dan Rindu dan Tahan Malu Penyayang, 1999, both are good buys from the artist whose work is destined to appreciate in value. An unusually strong colour composition by the influential Dutch painter who spent most of his life in Indonesia, Arie Smit, (1916-2016) Lot 747, Passing the Shrines, 2010, has an estimated price of Rp. 27 – 35 million, and finally Lot 739, Tualen by the colourful Italian-Filipino maestro Antonio Blanco (1911-1999), is a gouache on paper work with an estimated price of Rp. 4 – 5 million, are all good investment grade buys.

Lot 783 "Love Bird" 2007 - Ketut Teja Astawa Acrylic on canvas. Image courtesy of Larasati                                 Love Bird, 2007 – Ketut Teja Astawa

 

For the connoisseurs there are many paintings to choose from, and here are but a few of the highlights, Ramayana Scene, Lot 723 is an early watercolour and ink on paper work by I Made Sukada (Ubud 1945 – 1982) that comes with an estimated price of between Rp. 25 – 35 million.

Ganesha Bertapa, Lot 725, is a beautiful, early ink and watercolour on paper by Wayan Radjin (Batuan 1945-2010) and has an estimated price of between Rp. 20 – 30 million. Lot 748, Bali Life by Ida Bagus Nyoman Rai (1915-2000), is the set of sixteen ink on paper drawings each 34 x 24 cm that comes with an estimated price of between Rp. 70 – 90 million.

Ida Bagus Made Poleng (Tebesaya, Ubud1915-1999) is one of the most highly prized Balinese painters and his two works on offer will attract much attention. Lot 753, Woman with Offering at the Sawah Scene has an estimated price of Rp. 350 – 450 million and comes with strong provenance, and Lot 751 Cremation Ceremony, ca. 1940s, an 51 x 37 cm ink wash on paper, which was exhibited at the Herbert Johnson Museum at Cornell University, USA in 2001 has an estimated price of Rp. 100 – 130 million.

Lot 723 "Wayang Scene" - Made Sukada, watercolour & ink on paper. Image courtesy of Larasati                                    Wayang Scene – Made Sukada

 

Other works of note are Lot 769 by Ida Bagus Made Nadera (1910-1998) of Batuan, Lot 777 is an early painting by one of the pioneers of Balinese modern painting Nyoman Gunarsa (1944-2017), while Lot 783 and 784 are rare early works by Ketut Teja Astawa (b. Denpasar 1970), that were previously in the collection of a Dutch museum. Lot 764, Tari Kecak by I Nyoman Kayun (b. Ubud 1954) is a stunning work featuring all the drama and action of the Kecak dance, and Lot 716, Suasana Pasar di Bali, 2006 by I Gusti Agung Wiranata (b.1969) is also a delightful, yet rare masterpiece, his composition inspired by Walter Spies’ technical Western aspects, that has an estimated price of Rp. 60 – 80 million. Other well-known artists included in the sale are I Gusti Made Deblog, I Wayan Djudjul, Dewa Nyoman Jati, Sewa Putu Mokoh, I Made Wianta and I Ketut Pande Taman.

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

Lot 764 "Rahwana Menculik Dewi Sita" - Nyoman Kayun, Image courtesy of Larasati                     Rahwana Menculik Dewi Sita – Nyoman Kayun

 

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

Open to the public at the Larasati Art Space in the Tebesaya Gallery the auction starts at 2:30 pm Saturday 16 February, while viewing begins from 11am Thursday. The online catalogue, complete with a guide for prospective buyers is available at: www.larasati.com

Lot 769 "Berburu Campung" - Ida Bagus Made Nadera Acrylic on canvas. Image courtesy of Larasati                           Berburu Campung – Ida Bagus Made Nadera

 

 

Viewing:

Thursday,         18 July      11am – 7.30pm

Friday,              19 July     11am – 7.30pm

Saturday,         20 July     11am – 2pm

 

Auction: Saturday 20 July, from 2:30 pm

 

Larasati Bali Art Space at Tebesaya Gallery

Jalan Jatayu, Banjar Tebesaya, Peliatan,

Ubud, Gianyar Bali, Indonesia

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images Courtesy: Larasati Auctioneers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revealing Chinese and Balinese Cultural Connections through Art: Meet Tjandra Kirana

"A New Spirit of Balinese Tradition", 2019 - Tjandra Kirana Watercolor on Chinese Paper“A New Spirit of Balinese Tradition”, 2019 – Tjandra Kirana Watercolor on Chinese Paper

 

One of the most charming characters within the Bali art community is Tjandra Kirana. Quick with a smile, and always ready to share a light-hearted joke, or a tale, he is gifted with a generous, and effervescent personality.

Born in Denpasar in 1944, of Chinese Indonesian heritage, over the past six decades the well-known, self-taught photographer and painter has been a witness to change – of the increasing modernization of Bali. Tjandra began painting at the age of seventeen, while his love for photography started when he was fifteen, and then he commenced working as a professional photographer seven years later.

28167736_10211599757534780_7519901610013381311_n                                              Tjandra Kirana

 

A collector of photographs, paintings, documents, artefacts, and memories of the development of Denpasar and Bali, Tjandra is a multi level identity – Chinese, Indonesian and Balinese. His years as ‘an amateur historian and an art and cultural ambassador’ have distinguished him within the Indonesian art community.

Celebrating the human spirit through the lens of his camera, Tjandra’s subjects range from cultural phenomenon, to everyday subjects of city and countryside scenarios, and from social and political identities to those who are marginalized. His studies of the Balinese culture, in particular the religious precessions and ceremonies are highlighted by his eye for balancing the colour and festivities with the beauty of the natural landscape. His Black & White images perfectly capture the rich and dynamic atmosphere of Bali.

20190825_040623                                    Calligraphy by Tjandra Kirana

 

In 1969 Tjandra opened a photography studio in Semarang, Central Java, specializing in advertising, wedding, and portrait photography, along with developing film and printing. The founder of the Semarang Photography Club in 1977, he was also one of the founders of the Perhimpunan Fotographi Bali (the Bali Photographers Association) in 1984. He has evolved with the various periods of photographic technological development – from black & white analogue images to mastering the digital age of technology.

Tjandra has received dozens of national and international awards and titles, including the 2008 & 2009 Shanghai International Lung Jing Shan Photography Art Award: Gold Trophy, while he has received his Certificate of Fellowship from the Royal Photography Society of Thailand from the Princess of Thailand, Maha Chakri in 2012. He is a member of the Royal Photography Society of Great Britain, and the Photography Society of the United States of America, to name just a few of his associations, and has exhibited both his photographs and paintings on more than three hundred occasions throughout Indonesia, Southeast Asia, China and India. Tjandra is constantly invited to represent Bali in exhibitions throughout Asia, and has recently returned from an art and cultural event in New Dehli, India.

20190629_124935Paintings by Tjandra Kirana exhibited at Santrian Gallery, Sanur in “Culture in Colours” 28 June – 9 August 2019

 

Bali is renowned for being been open to, and embracing, influences from foreign cultures. Trade with China began about 300 AD and centuries of migration from main land Asia to the Indonesian archipelago followed, while the Chinese began settling on Bali about one thousand years ago.

“Significant cultural influences are evident in the fields of architecture, art, craving and danceeconomic exchange (kepeng coins), textiles, culinary, and within local customs and rituals,” Tjandra states. One of the most famous icons of the Balinese culture – the Barong – the benevolent lion character that represents universal good and plays a significant role within religious ceremonies is derived from the Chinese lion dance featuring similar character – Barongsai.

Photo by Tjandra Kirana                Photograph of Balinese ceremonial offering by Tjandra Kirana

 

Tjandra’s beautiful decorative paintings create awareness to the distinct facets of the Balinese culture that reveal Chinese influence via the use of unique iconography. “The influence of Chinese culture which is infused in various manners and daily habits is embedded in my memory. This longing for ancestral heritage can not escape the subconscious and within my paintings I wish to reveal that two cultures are present today in contemporary Bali,” he explains.

When sharing some of his ‘secrets’ for a long and fruitful life Tjandra says, “Life is to be enjoyed to the fullest, and having an open, and disciplined mind, is the foundation to success.” Tjandra has been a giver of many gifts, yet also the receiver.

“In 1998 life dealt me the most unusual circumstances. Suffering from heart complaints I was hospitalized. That night I lost consciousness and my heart stopped beating, and then kicked back into life on three separate occasions. I woke the next day surrounded by my family, but I had no comprehension of what had occurred during the night.” Tjandra immediately needed a series of operations to sustain his life, yet did not have the finance to cover the costs. A friend, however, then graciously gave him the required funds. “This gift gave me a fresh perspective on my life, and I clearly understood about my own sense of kindness, and how being generous was essential to a happy and fulfilling life.”

Painting by Tjandra Kirana                                             Tjandra Kirana

Tjandra’s upcoming solo painting exhibition will open to the public 28 June at Griya Santrian Gallery, Sanur, 28 June 2019.

67697120_2617694888241614_4978224811005181952_o                    Tjandra Kirana at work in his Denpasar studio.

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Courtesy of Tjandra Kirana

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

Balinese Masters : Aesthetic DNA Trajectories of Balinese Visual Art

Open daily 11 AM  –  9 PM

AB•BC (Art Bali • Bali Collection) Building

Nusa Dua, Bali

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Richard Horstman & courtesy of HPM, Bali

 

 

 

 

 

the curious worlds of Balinese painter Galung Wiratmaja

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images courtesy: Richard Horstman & Indonesian Fine Art

 

 

TANDA SERU! exhibition in Bali makes a bold artistic statement

Members of the public engage with paintings by Citra Sasmita during the opening of "Tanda Seru" at Uma Seminyak - Image courtesy of FutuwonderAudience members engage with paintings “Portrait of the Other, #1 & #2” by Citra Sasmita during the opening of Tanda Seru!

 

In 2017 a meeting of young Balinese women from various creative backgrounds, yet with similar visions, set out to create a cross-disciplinary platform to support and encourage women’s art activities and visual discourse. Their driving motivating question: ‘Why aren’t there many established women artists in Bali?’ The gathering set the foundations for a new art collective – Futuwonder.

In July 2018, Futuwonder announced its arrival on the Indonesian art scene by conducting a Wikilatih workshop (Wikipedia article writing) and uploading onto the World Wide Web eighteen new articles on female artists from Bali. Puan Empu Seni: Edit-a-thon was a part of a national drive, held in conjunction with Wikimedia Indonesia, to increase the amount of data on Indonesian female artists available on the Internet’s most go-to source of information – Wikipedia.

Leading Indonesian contemporary artist Arahmaiani and Tanda Seru artists during the exhibition opening at Uma Seminyak 31 March 2019 - Image courtesy FutuwonderLeading Indonesian contemporary artist Arahmaiani with Tanda Seru! artists during the opening of the exhibition at Uma Seminyak

 

Following on from their first exhibition, Masa Subur: Efek Samping, held late last year in Ubud, Futuwonder presents Tanda Seru! (Exclamation Mark) open for two weeks from 31 March at the Uma Seminyak, Bali. Officiated by Indonesia’s most prominent woman contemporary artist, Arahmaiani, and showcasing a diverse array of contemporary works by eight-woman artists, the exhibition commemorates International Woman’s Day 2019, 8 March, and Kartini Day on 21 April. Also referred to as Women’s Emancipation Day, established in 1964 by Indonesia’s founding President, Sukarno, Kartini Day is a national holiday celebrating the life of Raden Ajeng Kartini (1879-1904), Indonesia’s first feminist activist.

“Bali is a very patriarchial society with few women being represented in the art scene, especially in the museums and galleries,” said Ruth Onduko, one of the founding members of Futuwonder, along with emerging artist Citra Sasmita and graphic designer Ni Putu Sridiniari. “We intentionally invited talented young women to exhibit in Tanda Seru! especially those who make art but do not label themselves as artists,” Ruth explains. “Due to the narrow scope of today’s contemporary art world women are marginalized and few get the opportunity to exhibit their work within the fine art gallery system as their work may not follow current market trends, or may lack the necessary commercial elements.”

"Res Publica - Security Mirror for Genitalia, 2019, Ni Putu Sridiniari. Image by Richard Horstman         Res Publica: Security Mirrors for Genitalia, 2019 – Ni Putu Sridiniari

 

“Through Tanda Seru! we examine and question issues related to gender, patriarchy and sexuality – making statements about the female body, woman’s roles, and our capabilities as equals with men,” Ruth said. “We chose the exhibition title to emphasize the importance of these issues, while showing the art world (especially in Bali), that there is a lot of highly skilled female artists that are worthy to be considered as part of the larger art world.”

Dan Bunga Berkata (And the Flower Speaks) is inspired by Aria Gita Indira’s investigations into data released by Badan Pusat Statistik (BPS Statistics Indonesia) in 2017, that reveals 1 in 3 Indonesian women aged between 15 – 64 have experienced violence and, or sexual violence in their lives. Indira presents three small ‘still life’ compositions of flower arrangements on black backgrounds, some of the flowers, however, are embroidered in cotton. The cotton ‘patches’ are metaphors, symbolic icons for all the female victims of domestic violence. Journalists often use the names of flowers when referring to domestic violence survivors in their reports.

"Dan Bunga Berkata" by Aria Gita Indira Image Richard HorstmanDan Bunga Berkata (And the Flower Speaks), 2019 – Aria Gita Indira

 

Crude, yet confrontational The World Between Her Legs, 2019 and Are We There Yet by Santi Permana features women’s underwear attached to brightly colored canvases. Statements to encourage strength and enthusiasm, such as: ‘forced prostitution’, ‘sexual harassment’, ‘girls are strong’ and ‘empowered women’ complete the compositions. Questioning the patriarchal reconstruction of the body of a woman who is menstruating, worshipping, in the work place, and in marriage, Happy to Bleed #1,2&3 by Cristine Mandasari presents circular compositions with restrictive statements written upon sanitary napkins. The artist poses the question, ‘With all the restrictions, can women actualize themselves as human beings who are free and equal to men?’

Communicating about the objectification of women, layers of transparent acrylic sheets frame a collage of digital images featuring mannequins, flowers and hands in the eye-catching Mannekin, 2019, by Intan Kirana Sari (b. 1999, Denpasar, Bali). Delicate brightly colored pieces of paper are arranged into collage on a blue background in Male Reproductive System, 2019 by Irene Febry. Febry imagines what the human reproductive system may look like if it was found within the body of a man.

"Mannequin", 2019 Intan Kirana Sari - Image by Richard Horstman                               Mannekin, 2019  – Intan Kirana Sari  

 

Citra Sasmita is renowned for her descriptive paintings depicting the exploration of the female body through the suffering and pain of the wounds inflicted upon them. Portrait of the Other, #1 & #2 contrasts and balances tragedy with an unusual sense of beauty, creating strong and distinct compositions. Few Balinese artists express themselves through the medium of printmaking, Sealing the Body and Tutur Tinular by Ni Luh Pangestu Widya Sari (b. Denpasar, Bali 1991) are a departure in artistic techniques and aesthetics from the other works in the show, adding to the overall strength of Tanda Seru!

 A pair of long, silver legs protrude from a square mirror, centrally positioned between the legs another mirror, round and convex. Upon inspection of Res Publica: Security Mirrors for Genitalia, by Ni Putu Sridiniari, the observer immediately comes face-to-face with their own image. The highlight of Tanda Seru! the work is both engaging and confronting, provoking thoughts, experiences and reflections upon gender identity.

"Happy to Bleed #1,2&3" by Cristine Mandasari - Image Richard Horstman                    Happy to Bleed #1,2&3, 2019  – Cristine Mandasari

 

“People are obsessed with private matters and sexuality. The law and the public, however, control women’s freedoms and perpetuate gender inequality,” said Sridiniari, a freelance graphic designer, who rarely publically exhibits her work. “I believe contemporary art is important to negotiate politics and socio-cultural issues – discourses that highlight personal narratives and cultural identity in a larger context: the family, community and the state.”

“I’ve always wanted to work with mirrors and body parts to create an installation, so I decided to work with legs for Res Publica, because everybody is curious about sexuality, especially in this case with the direct reference to the female genitals,” she explained. “In Res Publica, the female genitalia is a treasure, yet remains a hidden mystery, that is watched by the public eye.”

"Male Reproductive System" by Irene Febry Image by Richard Horstman                     Male Reproductive System, 2019 – Irene Febry

 

Tutur Tinular, 2015 Ni Luh Pangestu Widya Sari - Image by Richard Horstman    Sealing the Body and Tutur Tinular, 2019 – Ni Luh Pangestu Widya Sari

 

 

Tanda Seru!

Open 31 March – 13 April

Uma Seminyak,

Jalan Kayi Cendana 1.

Oberoi, Seminyak, Bali

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Richard Horstman & Futuwonder