Category Archives: Balinese Modern Traditional Art

Investing in Balinese traditional art? Now is the right time.

IMG_8546 National Struggle                    National Struggle, 2016 – Pande I Made Dwi Artha

 

Within the sphere of Indonesian art, Balinese traditional art is a small niche market. It has recently, however, witnessed positive developments, and this progression, both in its appreciation and valuation, is leading to increasing national and international popularity.

The rapid evolution of information technology has led to greater access to knowledge about Balinese art, along with the publishing of more quality art books. Recent developments within the Bali art infrastructure, and the fact that experts believe the market is undervalued, with strong future growth potential, point to now being an excellent time to buy Balinese traditional art as an investment.

"Tapak Dara - Unity Tapak Dara - Pilar Kebangsaan" Aris Sarmanta. Image Richard HorstmanTapak Dara – Unity Tapak Dara – Pilar Kebangsaan, 2017 – Wayan Aris Sarmanta

 

The dynamics leading to Balinese art being underappreciated and undervalued has been due to its perception. Within world art Balinese art has been maligned, often referred to as ‘tourist’ and folk art – a craft without a legitimate place in Indonesian art history. Some of its finest practitioners, however, were, and are today, from the Balinese high castes therefore, it is not an art form exclusive to the common people. The leading artists nowadays are in a life long, ‘sacred’ pursuit dedicated to reaching new levels of technical skill and aesthetic mastery.

Initially collected and exhibited in anthropological museums of the Netherlands, and not in the renowned art museums of Europe, it was presented with a demeaning colonial narrative, referred to as art made by primitive people. This is situation, however, has recently undergone change. The institutions with the most important collections of Balinese art have been rebranded – renamed Museums of World Culture. From now on it will be presented free from the old narratives, given special curatorial attention to its importance, while being exhibited with the highest technological standards. This will impact positively upon its perception and appreciation internationally, and within Indonesia.

Wayan Budiarta - Drowning - 2017                                Drowning, 2017 – Wayan Budiarta

 

During the past twelve years Jakarta auctioneers Larasati have been tireless promoters of Balinese traditional art. 2018 marks the tweleth year of its Bali auctions, held twice yearly in Ubud. Larasati’s website provides sale data from past auctions, information, and access to online live bidding. Market data reveals strong growth for Ubud painter A.A Gde Anom Sukawati, if you purchased a work in 2003 for about USD 2,000 – 3,000, it can be sold at auction in 2016 at about USD 23,000. Similarly if you invested USD 2,000 – 3,0000 in 2003 on a masterpiece by Ida Bagus Putu Sena, it sold at auction in 2012 for about USD 14,000.

The major change maker on the Balinese art landscape is the TiTian Bali Art Foundation, located in Ubud. Open in 2016, and specializing in identifying, and nurturing emerging talent and introducing the best artists to the market. During 2017 TiTian presented some of the finest artists from the renowned school of Batuan painting. Wayan Budiarta, Wayan Aris Sarmanta (winner of the 2018 TiTian Prize), Pande I Made Dwi Artha and Gede Widyantara are young talents on the rise. Six paintings by two of these talents were purchased by Museums of World Culture and soon will be exhibited in the Netherlands.

Made Griyawan ' The Unlucky Monkey"                         The Unlucky Monkey, 2016 – Made Griyawan

 

Each year a new sector of world art comes under the auctioneers spotlight at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. In 2017 it was African art – the market response was increased demand, and new record prices. It is inevitable that more international collectors will turn their attention here due to the quality art at cheap prices. Could Balinese traditional art be one of the next booming markets?

Buying the right art requires some know how. Here are some tips for new collectors:

-Do your research and learn as much as possible through books and online information.

-Visit museums, galleries, auctions, artist’s studios, and exhibitions. Immerse yourself in art in order to train your eye.

-Get to know collectors and the experts. Seek out advice while learning about the industry.

-The best investment is with the emerging artists. Their works are cheaper and have a great potential for increasing in value and leading to future gains.

-Identify potential future masters by self-research and scouting, or align yourself with artist incubators.

-Invest early on masterpieces by the potential future masters.

-Think long term and hold for at least 10-15 years to wait for the market to mature for profit making.

-Works at auction often sell for prices much lower than that at galleries, or the artist’s studio.

-When buying at an auction set the price that you are not prepared to go above.

-There are still many Balinese works, often treasures, that remain forgotten, or unrecognized, which are stored away, and are yet to find their way onto the market.

-Young talent is thriving in the villages of Batuan, Keliki and Ubud and these important genres are in exciting new eras of development, driven by well-organized art collectives.

-Look out for the Larasati auction previews published online in the Jakarta Post.

bhineka-tunggal-ika-mungku-muriarti-mura                                     Painting by Mungku Muriarti Mura

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

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Balinese art patronage – now & then

Balinese Kamasan Painting                                          Balinese Kamasan Painiting

 

Balinese painting has a rich and unique history dating back over 400 years. Originally the work of artisans from the East Javanese Majapahit Empire (13-16th Century), this special narrative style of painting expanded into Bali in 1343 when the Majapahit conquered Bali, introducing the Hindu culture, and institutions.

The collapse of the empire in 1515 led to the mass migration of the Majapahit aristocracy to Bali, and from the 16th – 20th centuries, the village of Kamasan, Klungkung, East Bali was the epicenter of classical Balinese painting. The art form thrived because its patrons were the highest-ranking kings of Bali. Patronage has played a defining role in Balinese art, and there are many fascinating stories about the development of the art, and the characters involved, both from the present, and the past.

Flora and fauna painting by Ketut Rudi of Lodtunduh                       Flora and fauna painting by Ketut Rudi of Lodtunduh

 

The Kamasan paintings feature two-dimensional compositions with imagery derived from the Wayang shadow puppet theater, one of the original story telling methods in the Balinese Hindu culture that may be traced back over 2000 years to India. Often depicting battles between the forces of good and bad, the narratives originate from the Hindu and Buddhist texts, and old Javanese-Balinese folktales.

The paintings decorate Balinese temples and adorn the houses of the aristocracy. They communicate about the philosophies of life, religion, ethics and morals, as well as flora and fauna and astrology, while serving to bring peace and harmony to society. Referred to as an ancient academic art, it differs from modern systems by placing more emphasis on contemplation, the role of the senses, meditation and direct application.

Art patron Colin McDonald with Lodtunduh bird artist Ketut Rudi (left)Australian collector and art patron Colin McDonald with the renown bird painter from Lodtunduh, Ubud, Ketut Rudi

 

The formation of the Dutch colonial state in the early 20th century had a massive, disruptive impact upon the Balinese social structures. Patronage was previously inherent to social belonging: the king, village, or clan commissioned a work from an artist, or a group of artists for some rice, or possibly a piece of land. Under foreign rule artists no longer worked solely for their palaces, yet had to contribute free manual labor, suffering loss of status, privileges, and the spiritual returns of working for royalty.

A revolutionary period of creativity began in Ubud in the 1930’s having a dramatic effect upon the traditional art, along with the lives of many Balinese. A new genre was born, Balinese modern traditional art, featuring the introduction of western techniques with more realistic iconography, and modern narratives to cater to a burgeoning market for souvenirs purchased by the initial wave of foreign tourists to visit Bali. Important patronage came from early western settlers, along with the Ubud royal family, who later in 1954 opened Ubud’s first museum, Puri Lukisan.

Art patron Colin McDonald with Made Budhiana Colin McDonald with Balinese contemporary artist Made Budhiana whom he has supported for over 30 years

 

A new era of private patronage began, post 1970’s, during the second wave of tourism, when successful art dealers became gallerists, and then museum founders in Ubud. Suteja Neka opened the Neka Art Museum, Agung Rai established ARMA, and Nyoman Rudana opened the Rudana Museum.

An important modern day chapter of art patronage is accredited to Australian collector Colin McDonald QC, who first visited Bali in 1983. “I was immediately arrested by the beauty of the landscape, along with the art, and was eager to return,” said McDonald, who at the time was a collector of Australian aboriginal art.

"Menyanyikan Hidup" 2012 - Made Budhiana                          “Menyanyikan Hidup” 2012 – Made Budhiana

 

Upon his first visit to the Rudana Gallery, McDonald was attracted to the natural, aesthetic, and spiritual qualities of the art. In 1984 he purchased his first Balinese paintings, one by the abstract expressionist Made Budhiana, and another by the Lodtunuh bird painter Ketut Rudi. McDonald later met and befriended the artists.

“I was especially attracted to gentle, insightful and spiritual temperaments of the two artists,” McDonald said. “After I visited Budhiana’s home and witnessed the depth and power of his work, I starting buying directly from him.”

"Good Friday" Wayan Wirawan“Good Friday” 2018 painted by Wayan Wirawan on Good Friday at Colin McDonald’s residence at Lodtunduh, Ubud

 

The process of becoming an art connoisseur is driven by a thirst for knowledge, and meeting and learning from other collectors and experts. McDonald frequented the Rudana Gallery, and later the Neka Museum, and there he met important Indonesian collectors who were willing to share about their passion.

McDonald started collecting contemporary art and he loved to immerse himself in the local art community. Today he owns more than 400 pieces, sketches, drawings paintings, installations and sculptures. In 2011 he went on to establish, in conjunction the Northern Center for Contemporary Art in Darwin, the “Artist’s Camp” for Indonesian and Balinese artists to visit the Northern Territory of Australia to interpret the landscape and the indigenous culture.

"Easter Sunday" Wayan Wirawan            “Easter Sunday” 2018 by Wayan Wirawan for Colin McDonald

 

“Art is a celebration of life, and a great companion. It speaks of cultural and religious tolerance, and the importance of ceremony,” McDonald said, who found art a perfect refuge from a stressful law career. “The Balinese artists have an extraordinary sensitivity to seeing the world and the universe with an intelligence and receptivity to both the seen and unseen worlds. The western world, however, often neglects this, and this reflects the spiritual gaps within western contemporary culture, along with their struggles.”

 

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Courtesy of Colin McDonald & Richard Horstman

Buying Balinese art at auction?

Wayan Radjin "Ramayana Membebaskan Dewi Sita" Image courtesy of LarasatiWayan Radjin – “Ramayana Membebaskan Dewi Sita” Image courtesy of Larasati

 

Are you interested in Balinese art? Ever thought of buying at auction?

Whether driven by your love of art, curiosity, or an eye for investment – buying at auction can be an interesting and exciting way to grow your collection. To the novice auctions may appear intimidating, for aspiring art collectors, however, auctions can provide an excellent point of entry into the marketplace.

Larasati Auctioneers, Indonesia’s oldest international auction house is a dedicated supporter of Balinese art. Specialists in auctioning Balinese traditional art, this year (2018) marks the tweleth year of its Bali auctions, held twice a year in Ubud. Offering an array of collectible items including paintings, sketches, prints and sculptures, their auctions presents good opportunities for buyers with small to medium, and larger budgets.

"Baris" AA Anom Sukawati                                   Baris – Anak Agung Gede Anom Sukawati

 

Here are some tips for the inexperienced on how to buy art during the Larasati Bali sale:

Open for public viewing the items for auction, or lots, are on exhibition from 11am each Friday immediately prior to the auction at Larasati Art Space in Ubud. There will be an array of beautiful art from the Classical paintings to the renowned genres of Balinese modern traditional art, and some modern and contemporary works, on display. Two and a half days allows plenty of time for inspection and to learn more about the works for sale. The free auction catalogue will be your necessary companion to help in this process.

Not only does the catalogue include the details of each lot for sale with the artist’s name, title of the work, medium, size and of course the estimated price of the works market value, it also has the details of how to participate in the auction, along with the necessary pre and post sale procedures. Be sure to read all the fine print. The Larasati website provides information and sales data from past auctions, access to online live bidding, along with the digital auction catalogue. You may wish to do more research about what you intend to buy and the Internet now has more and more information available on Balinese art.

'Sita Satya' Ketut Madra, 103x103cm, Image Richard Horstman                                        Sita Satya – Ketut Madra

Art is very personal, and everyone has different tastes. The secret to buying art that you will enjoy from the first moment you see it, and everyday on the wall at home is to listen to your heart or inner voice. Buying for investment takes know-how. Taking note of your budget is essential, and a buyer’s premium is payable on top of the final sales price of each lot.

On auction day first register your intention to participate and you will receive your paddle with an identification number, which you shall raise to indicate to the auctioneer your wish to bid for a work offered for sale. Understand all the necessary responsibilities you have as a buyer – don’t hesitate to ask questions to the Larasati staff so that you are clear. Inquire if there is a condition report available on the works you are interested in, and knowing more about the works history (previous exhibitions, past sales records, provenance & certificates of authenticity).

Dewa Putu Bedil, 'Harvest Scene', 1980, acrylic on canvas 136x200cm                                  Dewa Putu Bedil – Harvest Scene

 

What can you expect during the auction?

 Auctions move at a swift pace so be attentive and its best to sit at the front of the room. The auctioneer monitors bids from telephone and Internet platforms along with live bidding from people within the room. Auctions become exciting especially when there is spirited competitive bidding quickly raising the prices.

 How does the bidding process work?

The bidding process is straight forward, simply raise your paddle to indicate that you are willing to accept the amount offered by the auctioneer, which will also be indicated on the screen next to the auctioneer in Indonesian Rupiah, American, Singaporean and Hong Kong dollars. The items price will increase by increments and auctioneer will clearly address you, acknowledging they have accepted your bid. Works at auction often sell for prices much lower than that at galleries, or the artist’s studio, yet remember to set a price according to your budget that you are not prepared to go above.

Gusti Nyoamn Lempad, 'The Rickety Bridge' 1940, black ink and pigment on paper.                                Gusti Nyoman Lempad – The Rickety Bridge

 

Hopefully you will succeed in placing the bid accepted as the final sales price that will be confirmed by the fall of the auctioneer’s hammer. Congratulations, your diligence has paid off and you have just won the lot. Finally, complete the payment details and organize the delivery of your new art work.

 This exciting experience will fuel your curiosity about buying art. Do your research and learn as much as possible through books and online, visit museums, galleries, artist’s studios, exhibitions, and more auctions. To train your eye immerse yourself in Balinese art – and enjoy.

For the online catalogues and more information about the next Larasati Bali auction early in 2019 please visit: www.larasati.com  

'Mothers Love' Ida Bagus Tilem, wood, 62x13x17cm. Image Richard Horstman                                  Mother’s Love – Ida Bagus Tilem

 

Auctions held at: Larasati Bali Art Space at Tebesaya Gallery,

Jalan Jatayu, Banjar Tebesaya, Peliatan,

Ubud, Bali.

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images Courtesy: Larasati Auctioneer’s & Richard Horstman

Recognizing extraordinary Balinese artistic talent: the 2018 TiTian Prize

2018-003-D-SUWIDIARTA I KETUT-END AND THE BEGINNING-120 X 100 CM                                       Beginning and End – Ketut Suwidiarta

 

The Bali art infrastructure is undergoing important transformation. This renewal is a timely, yet long and unique process. The intended outcome, however, will be a sustainable art eco system on the island with the benefactors being new buyers, seasoned collectors, art lovers, the curious, and of course the artists and the industry as well.

The infrastructure currently comprises of galleries, museums, art spaces, artist studios, cultural centers, the traditional, and digital media, along with the art schools, institutions and foundations. Art awards and competitions are an essential, supportive part of any art infrastructure. They are renowned for discovering and showcasing noteworthy emerging artists and launching their careers. The exposure to gallerists, curators, collectors, the media and local and international audiences provides excellent networking opportunities, and makes the task of being “discovered” much easier.

2018-034-D-ADI WIRAWAN-MERINDUKAN BALIKU YANG DULU-120 X 120 CM                           Merindukan Baliku Yang Dulu – Adi Wirawan

 

The nine finalists and winner of the second annual TiTian Prize were announced in Ubud, 29 January 2018, during the second anniversary celebrations of Yayasan TiTian Bali (YTB). A new and visionary art foundation, inaugurated on the 80th anniversary of the founding of the famous Ubud based artist collective the Pitamaha, YTB is setting out to change the art landscape in Bali. TiTian, meaning bridge or “Stepping Stone” in the Balinese language, with its annual program of exhibitions, awards, workshops and book releases, is an experimental playground and launch pad. In essence it serves as artist incubation.

“Bali has a vast cultural heritage that is at risk due to the disruptions caused by modern technological, social and cultural changes sweeping the world,” says the YTB Chairman of the Board of Advisors Soemantri Widagdo. “YTB will assist Balinese visual artists not only to navigate and survive this massive change, but to become successful art-entrepreneurs to benefit from and to be the drivers of the new opportunities of the 21st century creative economies in Bali and Indonesia.”

2018-033-D-ARI WINATA I NYOMAN-MENAGKAP RAJA BABI-150 X 200 CM                                Menagkap Raja Babi – Nyoman Ari Winata

 

The TiTian Prize is awarded to the most promising artist who demonstrates talent and courage in breaking new ground in Balinese art. This year’s finalists are Gede Suryawan, Ari Winata, Ketut Suwidiarta, Kadek Yuliantono, Made Suartama, Ida Bagus Suryantara, Made Wahyu Senayadi and Wayan Eka Mahardika Suamba. The TiTian Prize winner is the exciting young painter from Batuan, Wayan Aris Sarmanta.

“Keluarga Bumi”, 2017 (Earth Family), by Sarmanta, is a wonderfully imaginative, glowing ‘family portrait’ featuring the father, mother and child set within and a fertile, idyllic earth playground. Elements of Balinese traditional painting merge with modern and contemporary art genes. Striking color contrasts are balanced with a superbly poised composition, highlighting the strong narrative taken from the Balinese Hindu philosophies. Light hearted elements add to the painting’s story making it a delight to observe.

2018-016-D-ARIS SARMANTA I WAYAN-KELUARGA BUMI-100 X 80 CM   The Winner of the 2018TiTian Prize “Keluarga Bumi” by Wayan Aris Sarmanta 

 

“My painting visualizes the earth family along with the abundance of nature in a harmonic, caring, and self-sustaining relationship,” says Sarmanta, who was born in Batuan in 1995. And continues, “I experienced great pleasure, along with disbelief, upon being announced this year’s winner.”

Photographs do not do “Keluarga Bumi” justice, and the painting needs to be seen to fully appreciate the fresh new approach that is currently revolutionizaring the most loved and critically acclaimed genre of Balinese art – Batuan painting. Inspirational and humourous, Sarmanta’s work is pulsating, and full of life.

The YTB presentation also includes the third annual “Anugrah Pusaka Seni” (Art Heritage) Award to artists and a patron who have made extraordinary contributions to the Balinese Arts. The winners are A.A. Gde Meregeg (1907-2001), A.A. Gde Sobrat (1912-1992), Gusti Made Deblog (1906-1986), Dewa Nyoman Mura (1877-1950), Dewa Putu Kebes (1874-1962), and Gusti Putu Sodang (unknown – 1937). The Patron Award (Life Achievement) went to Prof. Drs. A.A Rai Kalam (1940-2017) who played a definitive role in the formation of the School of Art at ISI Denpasar.

2018-012-D-SURYANTARA IDA BAGUS-PALEMAHAN-125 X 120 CM                                   Palemahan – Ida Bagus Suryantara

 

For the first time this year YTB presented children’s prizes for age groups up to 12 years, and between 13 to 17 years of age. “The Titian Prize for children is to encourage the young generation of Balinese children to learn and continue the Balinese painting tradition,” says Widagdo. “The prizes are given in recognition, appreciation and encouragement, and consist of a certificate and art materials. In the future we plan to include a program of mentoring along with museum and studio visits.”

The 2018 TiTian Prize winner will travel to Europe to attend a Bali art exhibition in late fall this year in Leiden, the Netherlands. The exhibition will feature paintings by Sarmanta and Wayan Budiarta, also from Batuan, that have recently been acquired by the National Museum of World Cultures. The winner as well will tour major museums, art galleries and exhibitions in the Netherlands.

Sarmanta’s painting“Keluarga Bumi” is on display until the end of 2018 at TiTian Art Space, located at the end of Jalan Bisma, Ubud. Open to the public daily from 9am – 5pm, except Mondays.

2018-018-D-EKA MAHARDIKA SUAMBA-JIN KURAKURA-35 X 46 CM                            Jin Kurakura – Wayan Eka Mahadika Suamba

 

2018-006-D-YULIANTO I KADEK-RENAISSANCE IN BALI-90 X 70 CM                                   Renaissance in Bali – Kadek Yulianto

 

2018-001-D-SURYAWAN EKA PUTRA-DIALOGUE IN BLUE SEASON- 51 X 71 CM                           Dialogue in Blue Season – Gede Suryawan

 

2018-009-D- SUARTAMA I MADE- BATU TENGAH-80 X 80 CM.JPG                                      Batu Tengah – Made Suartama

 

TiTian Prize Childrens Art A- KETUT SANDRA GAUTAMA-NELAYAN-24 X 36 CM                TiTian Prize Children’s Art – Ketut Sandra Gautama

 

TiTian Childrens Prize - KADEK DWIKA DHARMA PUTRA-KEBERSAMAAN-22 X 32 CM .JPG                   TiTian Prize Children’s Art – Kadek Dwika Dharma Putra

 

2018-034-A- KADEK RIPA RYAN SUPUTRA-ANAK PANTAI-25,5 X 30 CM.JPG                       TiTian Prize Children’s Art – Kadek Ripa Ryan Suputra

www.titianartspace.com

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images Coutesy: TiTian Art Space

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

Why did you begin doing this?

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

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

 

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

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

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

"Paradise Lost" GMY Chinese Ink on Kamasan Canvas 2014

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Words: Richard Horstman

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

Under the hammer: Previewing Larasati’s Traditional, Modern & Contemporary Art Auction, Bali, 21 January 2018

lot #579 Ida Bagus Made Poleng "Stone Mason" Image courtesy of Larasati                             Lot # 579 Stone Mason – Ida Bagus Made Poleng

 

Larasati Auctioneer’s continue to provide excellent support in the development of Indonesian art, especially Balinese traditional painting, to growing local and international markets with its upcoming 21 January 2018 Traditional, Modern and Contemporary Art auction to be held in Ubud, Bali.

Eighty lots of fine art will go under the hammer, including paintings, sketches, a woodcarving and one delightful poster, in an array of categories, and with price accessibility for new buyers, intermediate collectors, and the connoisseurs alike. For the third year running real time, Internet bidding is available through the Larasati website opening the auction to a global audience.

lot #533 Bagong Kussudiardjo "Wanita Wanita Bali" Image courtesy Larasati                      Lot # 533 Wanita Wanita Bali – Bagong Kussudiardjo

This is an exciting sale with some absolute gems featured, along with works by renowned Indonesian and foreign artists, including Balinese master Gusti Nyoman Lempad (1862-1978), Ida Bagus Made Nadera (1910-1998), Ida Bagus Made Togog (1913-1969), Wayan Taweng (1922-2004), Antonio Blanco (1911-1999), Dutchmen Rudolf Bonnet (1895-1978) and Arie Smit (1916-2016) and Australian artist Donald Friend (1914-1980). The auction is highlighted by a special selection of works from the collection of one of the most forward thinking private collectors of Balinese art in the United States, Peggy Williams.

For the new buyer, or novice wishing to add to their collections there are many paintings and drawings priced at lower than US $500 that are very good buys if purchased within their estimates. Two, especially glowing works by recognized female painter Ni Gusti Agung Galuh, lot # 545, Pulang Dari Sawah and lot #546 Sunset with Ducks, both have an estimated price of between Rp. 4 million – 5 million. Lot # 548, Sore Hari di Desa by Gusti Agung Wiranata also has the same estimated price, while lot #524, Ocean Village Scene, an early work by the renown Batuan painter Wayan Bendi has an estimated price of between Rp. 5 million – 7 million and is another excellent opportunity to purchase a strong work. All of these works represent buying value not possible when purchasing paintings direct from the artist’s studio or from a gallery.

lot #524 Wayan Bendi "Ocean Village Scene " Image courtesy of Larasati                       Lot #524 Ocean Village Scene – Wayan Bendi

There are two lots of special interest for collectors and those seeking to purchase something unusual. Charming & Beautiful lot # 539 is a 75cm x 48cm advertising poster by the reputed Dutchman Willem Gerard Hofker (1920-1981), which has an estimated price of between Rp. 10 million – 12 million. Lot # 519, Barong by influential Balinese wood carver Nyoman Tjokot (1888-1971) has an estimated price of between Rp. 30million – 40 million and is a rare find from an artist who was at the forefront after the turn of the 19th century of new sculptural interpretations of icons of the Balinese culture.

Works in the mid price range are many and some strong paintings include groups by twoartists Bagong Kussudiardjo (1928-2004) and Dewa Putu Mokoh (1934-2000). Well known as a choreographer Bagong learned to paint from Indonesian masters Hendra Gunawan and Affandi, among others, before studying painting formerly at ASRI Yogyakarta. Of his four works offered, lot #530 Ibu dan Anak has an estimated price of between Rp. 12 million – 15 million, and Wanita Wanita Bali, lot #533, has an estimated price of between Rp. 45 million – 55 million.

lot#564 Anak Agung Gde Anom Sukawati "Suasana Pasar" Image coutesy Larasati             Lot #564 Suasana Pasar – Anak Agung Gde Anom Sukawati

Four works are on offer by Mokoh, noted for breaking with convention and producing compositions that were quirky, lurid, even intimate and highly unusual. The present owner purchased the paintings directly from the artist, and lot #553, Tajen, a delightful scene of an audience watching a cock fight, has an estimated price of between Rp. 22 million – 32 million.

Lots #517, 521, 577 & 580 are by Made Sukada (1945-1982). An artist held in very high esteem, his attention to compositional details and skin tones, set him apart from most and have led to him being a highly sought after painter, especially due to his short career. The idol of Indonesian international contemporary art superstar Nyoman Masriadi, lot #521 by Sukada, Dialog Arjuna dan Kresna has an estimated price of between Rp. 90 million – 110 million. Another beautiful work by Nyoman Kayun, lot #548 Pusupati has an estimated price of between Rp. 40 million – 80 million.

Lot#553 Dewa Putu Mokoh "Tajen" Image courtesy Larasati                             Lot# 553 Tajen – Dewa Putu Mokoh

An early work dated 1989, by Ubud’s most celebrated living painter, Anak Agung Anom Gde Sukawati, lot # 564 Suasana Pasar was painted when he was only 23 years old. While the influence of his father, A.A Gde Meregeg (1912-2000) is obvious, some five years later his work evolved and made a clear departure from his father’s style. With an estimated price of between Rp. 90 million – 110 million, this is an extraordinary piece to collect.

An extremely rare and early masterpiece by, arguably the most talented Balinese painter of the 20th century, Ida Bagus Made Poleng (1915-1999), will receive the attention from connoisseurs. Lot # 579, Stone Mason is offered as the top lot in this auction, with an estimated price between Rp.350 million – 450 million. Probably produced in the early 1940’s as it is painted on Masonite board, the work, which has excellent provenance, reveals his mastery of composition and the strong influence of Rudolf Bonnet is clearly shown in the way he has depicted figures working in the field.

lot #521 Made Sukada "Dialog Arjuna dan Kresna" Image courtesy Larasati                     Lot #521 Dialog Arjuna dan Kresna- Made Sukada

The final lot during the afternoon, lot # 580 by Made Sukada, Bali Life, has an estimated price between Rp. 40 million – 80 million and also comes with excellence provenance. An early work of remarkable beauty, its layered composition reveals fascinating central background features and is another step in Sukada’s journey in the master of anatomy, influenced by Rudolf Bonnet’s signature style of elongated human proportion.

Potential buyers bidding over the phone, or via real-time Internet bidding 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 # 580 Made Sukada "Bali Life" Image courtesy Larasati                            Lot #580 Bali Life – Made Sukada

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 Sunday 21 January, while viewing begins from 11am Friday. The online catalogue, complete with a guide for prospective buyers is available at: www.larasati.com

577                               Lot# 577 Tri Murti – Made Sukada

Viewing:

Friday,         19 January   11am – 7.30pm

Saturday,   20 January     11am – 7.30pm

Sunday,     21 January     11am – 1pm

Auction: Sunday 21 October, 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 Auctioneer’s

 

 

 

 

 

Bruce Carpenter: presenting Indonesian art & culture to the world

BruceC-2a                                                          Bruce Carpenter

 

A lust for life and adventure, along with a generous dose of savvy have propelled New York City born and bred Bruce W. Carpenter around the planet.

The son of a young American soldier who returned from WWII with an upper class English bride, Carpenter found himself torn between the idealism and glory of old Britain and the cosmopolitan metropolis of his birth. In the end, the creative cauldron that was NYC in the 60s & 70s would be the winner.

“I found my sanctuary in the great museums and then seminal art scene of the “City” where I was introduced to the Underground Art Scene and the Beat Poets. This would lead on to the first happenings, the precursor of installations, in Soho lofts, Andy Warhol’s Factory, experimental theatre and film,” says Carpenter, who eventually channelled his creativity into filmmaking. Carpenter was also an eyewitness and full-blown inductee into the Woodstock Generation, having attended the concert, and the Age of Aquarius. He played in a Blues band and was a member of several theatre groups.

Lempad_cvr_300dpiLempad of Bali: the illuminating lineCarpenter, Darling, Hinzler, McGowan, Vickers, Widagdo

The election of Richard Nixon and the resurgence of the conservative right, along with the death of a brother who served during the Vietnam War, precipitated a leap across the Atlantic Ocean to the city of Amsterdam where idyllic hippie dreams were still raging on. After experiencing one long and miserable Northern European winter, Carpenter succumbed to exotic tales of the mystic East recited by a new breed of young travellers.

In 1974 he sold his camera and bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok. During the next 18 months he would explore the east crisscrossing the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia starting in Sumatra. Together with the Swiss artist-photographer, Charles Junod, they would scout out wild destinations and create surreal installations that they photographed. These would tour Europe in an exhibition of surreal photography sponsored by the Canon Gallery.

When Carpenter arrived on the island paradise of Bali, Kuta was no more than a small village set in coconut groves adjacent to the beach. “There was a handful of homestays with a cast of international bohemian suffers and roaming hippies as the guests,” he recounts. The two most dangerous moving objects were falling coconuts and the deer-like Balinese cow.

sovarrubias-sketchesMiguel Covarrubias Sketches: Bali – Shanghai – Adriana Williams & Bruce W Carpenter

For the next decade Carpenter led a nomadic lifestyle with regular visits to Bali. In the early 1980s, after meeting Dr. Stanley Kripper, he began organizing cultural tours under the auspices of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Sausalito. These specialized in visits to traditional healers and religious figures and would end with a book on traditional Balinese healing co-authored with Krippner and Dr. Denny Thong the head of Bali’s mental hospital in Bangli.

In 1985 Carpenter settled in Ubud and began working on a series of research and art projects usually tied with the art, history and culture of Indonesia. As his reputation grew he was invited to author and co-author a growing number of books. In 1993 he gained wide attention as the author of Willem G. Hofker, Painter of Bali (1993), the first major book on an expatriate artist on Bali. Several other books on expatriate artists soon followed including the acclaimed, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, the First European Artist in Bali (1997).

“Often in life, its not what you know, but who you know,” says Carpenter. Through a serious of discussions with key figures in the hotel industry in Bali Carpenter was to be granted a wonderful opportunity after he convinced the management of the Four Seasons Resort in Jimbaran that luxury hotels were the natural heirs of the mantle once held by the royal palaces as patrons of the arts. The result was the opening of the Ganesha Gallery, the first dedicated art gallery on the premises of a hotel in 1992. This was hailed as an excellent cultural bridge between the guests and Indonesian modern and traditional art.

9789814068154-us          Emilio Ambron: An Italian Artist in Bali – Bruce W. Carpenter

Initially the resort attracted wealthy and sophisticated international clientele and with the charismatic Carpenter as the figurehead of Ganesha and his sharp eye for art, the timing was perfect and it became an immediate success.

For a 15-year period the gallery held 12 exhibitions a year, an unheard of phenomenon in Indonesian art, confirming it as the fine art gallery in Bali. In its heyday well-heeled guests and local collectors purchased quantities of art, however over the years as the profile of the guests changed, along with events such as the Gulf War, 9/11 and the Bali bombings, and its market gradually faded. This experience for Carpenter gifted him with enormous experience and knowledge, along with connections and an international reputation.

In the meanwhile Carpenter would also begin publishing a series of books on the traditional arts of Indonesia, including Mentawai Art, Batak Sculpture, Nias Sculpture and two books on traditional jewellery. “I am a firm believer that expatriates should contribute to the country they live in. I was blessed with a deep knowledge and appreciation of Indonesian arts and culture which is fast disappearing and I have taken it upon myself to try to record as much of it as possible.

4mpXadWmpPcjnmClhQXP          W.O.J Nieuwenkamp: First European Artist in Bali – Bruce W. Carpenter

In all, Carpenter has written and co-authored over twenty books and scores of articles on Indonesian art, culture and history. However, with the recent release of the book Lempad of Bali – The illuminating Line, the first fully comprehensive study on the master of Balinese traditional artist, Gusti Nyoman Lempad (1862-1978), on the 20th September 2014 at Museum Puri Lukisan, he admits, “this has by far been the most challenging project I have engaged in in my life.”

“As the book concept and project manager my list of tasks was unprecedented. I had to oversee interactions with over forty institutions and collectors in eight different countries, each with different requirements, along with dealing with six authors, one of whom is dead!” Carpenter says. “Our endeavour was to include the broadest range of Lempad’s works available in the book, therefore the detective work required was unbeknown to us and consequentially enormous.” The beautiful volume of over 424 pages is the culmination of more than six years work for the team of dedicated and respected academics and professionals.

“Bali deserves to have world class art exhibitions, books and events to create more interest in its immense and unique culture,” Carpenter states.

“I am dedicated to the publication of illustrated books on the traditional arts of Indonesia which have disappeared or are disappearing. We honor the past by recording its brilliance. I also feel it is important to urge young Indonesians to do the same. It is ironic that westerners play such a critical role in the studies of Indonesian art. This should change.”

Opinionated and articulate Carpenter counts many, including the rich and famous, as friends. A father of two he cuts both a dashing and unusual figure. His trailblazing journey through life is rich in colourful tales that are steeped in the exotic, mysterious and dynamic.

127446                                 Indonesian Tribal Art – Bruce W. Carpenter

 

Words: Richard Horstman