Category Archives: Balinese Modern Traditional Art

Rebirth – Wayan Aris Sarmanta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reincarnation                      Reincarnation, 2017 – Aris Sarmanta

 

REBIRTH, continuing through until 15 July 2017

TITIañ Art Space

Jalan Bisma, Ubud, Bali

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

Words & Images: Richard Horstman
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Celebrating Indonesian Modern Art: the Painting Collection of the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Indonesia – Senandang Ibu Pertiwi

headpic_orig                         The National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta

The 2016 inaugural presentation of the Painting Collection of the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Indonesia, 17/71, Goresan Juang Kemerdekaan (The Brushstrokes of the Independence Struggle),  2-30 August at the National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, highlighted the relevance of art and culture to the nation. Officially opened on 17th August by the current Indonesian President Joko Widodo, on the 71st anniversary of the proclamation of independence, the exhibition featured 28 paintings from the collection of over 3000 works assembled by Indonesia’s founding father President Sukarno.

It  featured scenes of the independence struggle by Indonesian maestros such as Affandi, Sudjojono and Raden Saleh alongside pictures of iconic Indonesia by painters such as Srihadi, Rudolf Bonnet and Walter Spies. The painting collection hangs in all six of the Presidential Palaces in Java and Bali.

20170811_135559          Nyi Roro Kidul (Queen of the South Seas) 1950 – Basoeki Abdullah

20170811_140437                         Lelang Ikan (Fish Auction) – Itji Tarmizi

Following on from last year’s historic event which attracted over 30,000 visitors to the National Gallery, the second edition: Senandang Ibu Pertiwi (Songs of the Mother Land) open 2 -30 August as part of the 72nd anniversary celebrations of Indonesian independence. It showcased 48 works by 44  artists from the 19th and 20th centuries with a variety of themes including landscapes, tradition, mythology and religion.

The son of an aristocratic Javanese schoolteacher and his high caste Balinese wife Sukarno was born in Surabaya, East Java, in 1901. From 1921-26 he studied at the Institute of Technology in Bandung,  West Java, graduating as an engineer, focusing on architecture. As the founding father and first President of the Republic of Indonesia, a position retained for almost 21 years, Sukarno was responsible for transforming the physical landscape of the capital city of Jakarta with public art.

1_2_orig“Pribite Nevesti” a painting that depicts a traditional Russian wedding by Russian artist Egorovick Makowsky.

Sukarno was an art lover and a great supporter of Indonesian modern art and Balinese traditional art amassing huge collections. While he enjoyed close relationships with many  artists he was also a talented painter. During his presidencey art was seen as a tool to help build the spirit and character of the nation.

Pribite Nevesti is the first painting that greets visitors upon entry into the foyer of the National Gallery. Painted by Russian artist Egorovick Makowsky (1839-1915) it is believed to be more than 125 years old, and depicts traditional Russian wedding. The painting was given to Sukarno as a gift during his visit to Russia by the leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev. It was exhibited at the Kremlin in Moscow before being brought to the Bogor State Palace in West Java and put on display.

A01_DSCN4907 CRW_9464_Basoeki Abdullah_Pemandangan Flores        Pantai Flores (On the Shores of Flores Island) 1942 – Basoeki Abdullah

20170811_140513              Keluarga Nelayan (Fisherman’s Family) 1950 – Renato Cristiano

Entering the display room the first theme is Nature’s Diversity and features a  variety of  landscape paintings, twelve in number, that immortalize the dramtic and beautiful scenary of Indonesia.  One of the highlights is Pantai Flores (On the Shores of Flores Island) 1942, by Basoeki Abdullah, the painting was originally a watercolor on paper by Sukarno, that was replicated into an oil on canvas work on request by Sukarno. The scene of the beautiful Flores landscape was captured  while he was exiled on the remote Ende Island between 1934 – 38 , sentenced by the Dutch East Indies Colonial Government.

Another highlight was Harimau Minum (Drinking Tiger) 1863 by the father of Javanese modernism Raden Saleh (1811-1880) who after living in Europe for 20 years studying with various european artist, became a portrait painter for the aristracy. The painting portrays a mystical atmosphere that is rich in symbolism and depicts a tiger drinking from a river.

20170909_100327                 Harimau Minum (Drinking Tiger) 1863 – Raden Saleh

20170811_110652                 Works dispalyed within the theme of Nature’s Diversity

20170811_140338

The collection of works themed Mythology and Religion offer insights into the historic and cultural influences that have evolved throughout the country over the centuries helping to define Indonesia.

According Senandang Ibu Pertiwi  curators Asikin Hasan, Amir Sidharta, Mikke Susanto and Sally Texania, the exhibtion catalogue: “The archipelago is not only a region that has numerous myths containing mystical and anthropological values, but also a locus that has created elements appropriated by almost all of the major religions in the world. The major kingdoms that prospered in Java, Sumatra, and other large islands are a melting pot for teachings whose artefacts we can still find today.”

Arguably the most iconic painting  within the mythology theme is Nyi Roro Kidul (Queen of the South Seas) 1950 by Basoeki Abdullah, a story that is often described in paintings. In Yogyakarta, there is a widely known story about Nyi Roro Kidul, who is depicted as a beautiful woman and ruler of the South Coast and seas. The myth describes that Kidul is found of the colour green, so the local people and careful not to wear this colour when they venture out into the southern ocean for fear of being taken by the Queen of the South Seas.

20170811_135321                       Offering to the Gods – Gusti Ketut Kobot

20170811_140233                                         Theo Meier

20170811_135453                                   Ida Bagus Made Poleng

20170811_135530

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

Keliki Kawan Miniature Painting Exhibition: Werdi Jan Kerti Artist’s Assoc.

I Putu Adi - "Sejarah Perdaban Cina in Bali"                              Sejarah Perdaban Cina di Bali – I Putu Adi

More 60 images of the reknown Balinese modern traditional style of the Keliki School of Miniature Painting went on display, 18 April at Ubud’s Museum Puri Lukisan. The Keliki Kawan Exhibition 2017, by the Werdi Jana Kerti Artist’s Association, continues until 3 June at Ubud’s centrally located, historical museum.

Last in line in the chronology of genres of modern traditional painting, coming after the mid 1960’s Young Artist’s Style, the Keliki paintings depict on paper the plethora of Balinese imagery in the tiniest of frameworks. The art of creating miniature images, however, has a long history, having been passed down over generations and dating back as far as the 9th century.

I Made Jongko - "Panen" 2016                                              Panen –  Made Jongko

Derived from the decorated manuscripts, processed on dried leaves and known as the lontars, the information is contained on pages measuring 30cm wide by 5cm high. Still in use today, the books reveal knowledge as diverse as holy scriptures, prominent rituals, family lineages, laws, medicine, arts, architecture, calendars, literature, and even the rules for cock-fighting. A sharp writing instrument is used to score the small text and drawings.

The Keliki School of Miniature Painting began in the early 1970’s in the Keliki Kawan village, 20 minutes north of Ubud. The village nowadays is home to more than 300 artists, in a tradition where the master pupil relationship, often father and son/s, plays an essential role. Two artists, I Ketut Sana (b.1952) and I Made Astawa (b.1953) are responsible for the development of this style that over time evolved to encompass a community of artists, and helping to supplement the incomes of poor farmers through the sale of works.

Gusti Putu Sudana "Pulau Bali" 2016                                   Pulau Bali – Gusti Putu Sudana

Both Sana and Astawa were students of the grandson of Bali’s most important modern artist and architect, Gusti Nyoman Lempad (c1865-1978), while also learning from masters of another respected genre, the Batuan School. Inspired by Lempad’s line techniques and the crowded Batuan ‘signature’ style, they reduced their compositions down in size, and the Keliki miniature style was born.

In 2011 the Werdi Jana Kerti Artists Association of the Keliki Kawan village was formed in an effort to maintain and preserve the genre. Since 2013 they have exhibited annually at Museum Puri Lukisan, the exhibition being a highlight on the Ubud art calendar. The collective currently has 75 members, of which 58 participate in the current show, aged from 14-70 years, including 11 women, while 23 of the artists are under 30 years.

Gusti Putu Lasyantika "Panen" 2016 12x12cm                                    Panen – Gusti Putu Lasyantika

Panen, 2016, by Gusti Putu Lasyantika is a fine example of the miniature style. His painting fuses two compositions into one. The outer image, set on a black background, is of colorful native birds peering in on the inner scenario, while contrasting with, and framing it. The inner focal landscape, constructed in receding layers to emphasize depth of field, shows farmers harvesting rice fields. In the distance Bali’s iconic volcanic landscape is visible with the sun’s soft golden rays illuminating the afternoon sky. What’s remarkable about Lasyantika’s painting, which involved hours of painstaking attention to detail, is that all of this imagery is captured within the reduced dimensions of only 12 x 12 centimeters!

During the past decade the onslaught of modernization that has become incompatible with traditional norms, has become a popular theme among traditional painters. Deforestation and relentless urban development are depicted in Illegal Logging, 2016 by Putu Kusuma. In the foreground heavy machinery and men with chain saws destroy the landscape. In the background the city’s high-rise skyline encroaches. The focal point is the sacred Balinese tree as the foundation of the natural eco system – the tree of life.

I Gusti Putu Sudarma "Bandara Harapan" 2017 38x27cm                            Bandara Harapan – Gusti Putu Sudarma

Gusti Putu Sudarma’s Bandara Harapan, 2016, 38 x 27 cm, acrylic on paper, is also aligned with the fore mentioned theme, yet his imagery is mostly unconventional. In a scene reminiscent of Dutchman Hieronymus Bosch (c.1450 -1516), in his style that was the forerunner to the 1920’s surrealism movement, the artist depicts a composition of two opposing worlds.

The foreground is filled with colorful circus characters, both real and imagined, with an array of unusual objects, some small, while others are monumental. Various other abstract structures and forms, along with figures appearing as observers, make up the relevant visual information. A few, seemingly insignificant, traditional parasols are the only recognizable Balinese icons.

I Putu Adi -Dewi Drupadi Dilecechi Oleh Kurawa" 2015                           Dewi Drupadi Dilecechi Oleh Kurawa – Putu Adi

Rendered faintly in the distance is the Bali of yesteryear, in a lush mountainous landscape dotted with Hindu temples. In top the right side a sits a small figure raised upon a pillar in meditation, while in the top left corner two brown figures appear, one holds a flag in an apparent gesture of surrender, the other in apparent raptures of grief.

This is a fascinating and clever composition worthy of focused attention. Do Sudarma’s metaphoric symbols represent his idea of a dystopian Bali?

I Putu Kusuma - "Illegal Logging" 2016                              Illegal Logging – Putu Kusuma

 

Keliki Kawan Exhibition 2017

Open daily 9am – 5pm

Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud

Jalan Raya, Ubud, Bali

www.museumpurilukisan.com

Words & Images: Richard Horstman