Category Archives: Balinese Modern Traditional Art

“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

 

 

 

 

 

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Previewing Larasati Jakarta Auction: Pictures of Indonesia 12 May 2019

Lot 627 "Boats at Kusamba" - Affandi Image Courtesy of Larasati                                         Boats at Kusamba – Affandi

 

Sixty-two items of fine art go under the hammer from 2:30 pm Sunday 12 May in the upcoming Pictures of Indonesia auction conducted by Larasati auctioneers at the CSIS Center, Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta.

The sale offers good buying opportunities for beginner and mid level collectors, as well as the seasoned connoisseurs, with lots available in a vast array of media including works in ink on paper, an etching, a charcoal sketch on paper, pastels on paper, watercolours on paper, oil pastel on canvas, oil and acrylic paint paintings on canvas, and sculptures. Genres of art to be auctioned comprise of Indonesian and Balinese modern paintings, contemporary paintings and sculptures, and Balinese modern traditional paintings, including works from the renowned Batuan School of painting – some are pre-war works.

Lot 662 "Mengintip" - I GAK Murniashi Image Courtesy of Larasati                                      Mengintip – I Gak Murniashi

 

Some of the well-known artists whose work appear in the sale are the Indonesian modern master Affandi (1907-1990), Ida Bagus Made Togog (1913-1989) from the Balinese village of Batuan, the famed Dutch colourist of Bali Arie Smit (1919-2016), talented Dutchman Willem Gerard Hofker (1902-1981), Balinese modern master Nyoman Gunarsa (1944-2017), Nashar (1928-1994), the overlooked painter of abstract and abstraction compositions, and the Balinese painter of the unconventional Dewa Putu Mokoh (1935-2010).

For those new to collecting fine art committed research, along with getting advice is essential, while internet databases are a good source of information, especially on prices of recently auctioned works. Auctions are transparent, providing benchmark prices that serve as a guide to how much collectors should be paying. Themed sections of work define the sale, beginning with Indo European featuring lots by noted Dutch artists, and an Indonesian artist, who painted pre-1960’s in the archipelago. While four compositions depict Indonesian coastal, village and city living, Lot 61 Geiderse Kade Amsterdam by Willem Gerard Hofker is a small etching of a canal scenario in Amsterdam that has an estimated price of between Rp. 4 – 6 million.

Lot 649 "A God and many animals in a Forest" - I Griem Image Courtesy of Larasati                              A God and many animals in a Forest – I Griem

 

For new buyers wishing to build their collection, the following works, if purchased within their estimated prices, offer very good buying. Lot 607 Balinese Woman, 1995, is an oil canvas painting by the overlooked American artist and long-term Bali expatriate Symon that has an estimated price of between Rp. 5 – 7 million. Lot 650 Village Life in Bali, is a colourful acrylic on paper scenario of village activity by noted Batuan painter Ida Bagus Putu Padma that has wan estimated value of between Rp. 6 – 8 million.

Two works are from the Pre War Balinese Art & Batuan Style section in the original Batuan ‘Black & White’ style achieved with ink on paper and reflecting some of the philosophies of the critically acclaimed genre. It must be noted that the years 1930 – 1945 are considered the golden years of Balinese painting. Lot 647 A Fight in a Village by Dewa Made Koendel, is a sketch in grey and black ink on paper, 34 x 31cm with an estimated price of Rp. 13 – 18 million, and Lot 649 A God and many animals in a Forest, circa 1936, by I Griem comes with good provenance and has an estimated value of between Rp. 13 – 18 million.

Lot 620 "Pemantasan Barong" - Wayan Meja Image Courtesy of Larasati                                Pementasan Barong – Nyoman Meja

 

The following lots offer good buying as potential investments if prepared to buy and hold the works for at least 10 – 15 years. Lot 630 Setan Mbesan, 2000-2001 by an icon of Indonesian art Nasirun, is a dramatic and colourful 92 x 147cm work with an estimated price of between Rp. 30 – 40 million. Lot 637 Dilarang Melintas #1, 2010 is an oil paint and pastel depiction of a child from the economically marginalised Balinese village of Songan by Bali’s most important painter Gusti Agung Mangu Putra. The work, which comes with an estimated price of between Rp 70 – 100 million, was exhibited in his landmark 2010 exhibition “Teater Rakyat” (People Theatre), at Galeri Nasional Indonesia, Jakarta.

Lot 656 Baruna Hotel Garden and New Queen Bali Restaurant, 2009 is by Dutch painter Paul Husner and comes with an estimated value of between Rp 70 – 90 million, Lot 662 Mengintip, 2002 with an estimated price of between Rp. 20 – 30 million is by Indonesia’s most significant female artist I Gusti Kadek Murniashi (1966-2006), from Bali, whose work was highly unconventional, erotic and violent, while emphasizing an array of women’s issues.

Lot 637 "Dilarang Melintas #1" - Agung Mangu Putra Image Courtesy of Larasati                              Dilarang Melintas #1 – Agung Mangu Putra

 

Highlights of the sale, and of special interest to the connoisseurs are these following three paintings. A beautiful and incredibly detailed composition of the drama and activity of a Balinese Barong dance, Lot 620 Pementasan Barong, 1999 by Nyoman Meja has an estimated price of between Rp. 300 – 350 million. Surprise and delight fill the faces of the children in the foreground, while the background reveals a vibrant wind swept scenario. Pulsating with energy in Affandi’s signature expressionistic style, Lot 627 Boats at Kusamba, 1980, is a 98 x 128cm oil on canvas composition of fishing boats on the beach in East Bali that has an estimated price of between Rp. 1,000 – 1,300 million. This is a rare work revealing the rigor of Affandi’s power late in his career.

Having previously studied modern art in New York Ahmad Sadali (1924-1987) became a leading avant-garde artist in the Indonesian post-war art and developed a distinctive style of his art in abstract patterns that are blended with the themes of spirituality and mysticism of Islam. Lot 644 Bidang dengan Bongkah Emas, 1986 has an estimated price of between Rp. 650 – 850 million, and was purchased by the current owner directly from Sadali.

Lot 644 "Bidang dengan Bongkah Emas" - Ahmad Sadali Image Coutesy of Larasati                            Bidang dengan Bongkah Emas – Ahmad Sadali

 

Lots 638 – 642 are oil on canvas works by the Javanese painter, classical dancer and contemporary dance choreographer from Yogyakarta, Bagong Kussudiardjo (1928-2004). Lot 639 Semar, 1995 by Kussudiardjo has an estimated price of between Rp. 35 – 45 million. Other interesting Balinese paintings in the sale are Lot 615 Aktifitas di Sawah, by Ketut Gelgel, Lot 614 Di Ladang , by Ketut Kebut, Lot 619 Pementasan Calonarang, by Wayan Djudjul (1942-2008) estimated price between Rp 35 – 45 million. Other popular Indonesian artists included in the sale are Kijono, Rusli, Widyat, Jehan and Yudi Sulistyo.

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 647 "A Fight in a Village" Dewa Made Koendel Image Courtesy of Larasati                       A fight in a village – Dewa Made Koendel

 

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 CSIS Jakarta in Tanah Abang, the auction starts at 2:30 pm Sunday 12 May, while viewing begins from 10:30 am Saturday 11 May. The online catalogue, complete with a guide for prospective buyers is available at: www.larasati.com

Lot 619 "Pementasan Calonarang" - Wayan Djudjul Image Courtesy of Larasati                             Pementasan Barong –  Wayan Djudjul

 

Viewing:
Saturday, 11 May 2019, 10.30 am – 7.30 pm
Sunday,  12 May 2019, 10.30 am – 2 pm

Auction:
Sunday, 12 May 2019, starting at 2.30 pm

Venue:
CSIS Jakarta
Gedung Pakarti Center
Jl. Tanah Abang 3 No.23
Tanah Abang, Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Courtesy of Larasati

 

 

Previewing the Larasati Traditional, Modern & Contemporary Art Auction in Ubud, 16 Febuary 2019

Ketut Teja Astawa "Untitled"                                       Untitled – Ketut Teja Astawa

 

Balinese contemporary artist Ketut Teja Astawa (b.1971) has experimented with the iconography from the Classical Balinese Kamasan paintings for more than twenty years. He reinterprets the imagery with his own innovations configuring wonderful compositions, often humorous, and with a strong sense of spontaneity. His signature style has become one of the most recognizable, and important recent developments in Balinese contemporary art.

Untitled, Lot 555, by Astawa, with an estimated price of between Rp 30 – 40 million, is just one of 77 items of fine art for sale in the upcoming Larasati Traditional, Modern & Contemporary Art auction on Saturday 16 February at the Larasati Art Space in Ubud, Bali.

Nyoman Kayun "Keluarga di Desa"                                       Keluarga di Desa – Nyoman Kayun

 

In an array of media including sketches in ink on paper, watercolour, gouache and aquarelle works on paper, acrylic and oil paintings on canvas, colour prints, and a lithograph, the auction features works by distinguished Balinese and international artists including Gusti Nyoman Lempad, Ida Bagus Made Poleng, Gusti Ketut Kobot, Nyoman Gunarsa, Arie Smit, Miguel Covarrubias and Donald Friend. The sale has buying opportunities for beginners, as well as seasoned connoisseurs, and mid level collectors.

Two of the highlights are Lot 513, Outriggers Bali by the renowned Australian artist and diarist who lived in Bali from 1968 until1980, Donald Friend (1914 – 1989). This striking 47 x 63 cm pen, ink, gouache and gold leaf composition on paper featuring 3 traditional sailing boats on the ocean comes with an estimated price of between Rp 85 – 95 million. Village Scene in Batuan, 1968, Lot 541, is a vibrant, playful composition by one of the most popular Batuan traditional painters, Ida Bagus Made Widja (1912-1992). This 42 x 82.5 acrylic on canvas work with dynamic coloration has an estimated price of between Rp 65 – 80 million.

Donald Friend "Outriggers Bali"                                      Outriggers Bali – Donald Friend

 

For new collectors with smaller budgets the following works offer good entry points into the market, especially if purchased within their estimated prices. Dasa Muka, Lot 525 is an excellent composition featuring mythological characters from the Balinese religious narratives by Gusti Nyoman Moleh and comes with an estimated price Rp 12 – 15 million. Lot 526, Bima ke Suarga Loka by the renowned painter of the unconventional Dewa Putu Mokoh (1913 – 2010) comes with an estimated price of between Rp 15 – 20 million, and Lot 559 Balinese Temple, by Kartika Affandi (b. 1934), the daughter of Indonesia’s first modern master Affandi (1907 – 1990) which has an estimated value of between Rp 14 – 18 million.

The following works will capture the attention of connoisseurs of Balinese traditional art. Nyoman Kayun (b. 1954) is considered one of the last living masters of the Ubud School of traditional painting and his compositions often depict old oral traditional folktales that are transmitted verbally through songs. Lot 520, Keluarga di Desa by Kayun has an estimated price of between Rp 35 – 45 million and comes with good provenance. Gembala Sapi. Lot 523 by Wayan Radjin (b.1945) the son of the celebrated Batuan artist Made Djata (1920 – 2001) has an estimated price of between Rp 55 – 75 million.

541                               Village Scene in BatuanIda Bagus Made Widja

 

Ida Bagus Made Poleng (1915-1999) was born in the village of Tebesaya, Ubud and was considered the finest of all of the Balinese traditional painters. His paintings, which he referred to as ‘his children’, are in high demand. Lot 524 Mandi di Pancuran, a 49 x 32 cm acrylic on canvas composition depicting two men bathing has an estimated price of between Rp 130 – 180 million. In charming, glowing reddish tones, Lot 543, Nonton Wayang by Ida Bagus Made Nadera (1915 – 1998) features a crowd of villagers watching a wayang kulit performance and comes with an estimated price of between Rp. 30 – 40 million.

An unusual item on offer, Lot 510, Rice Granary, Bali, a 36 x 28cm lithograph by Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias (1904 -1957) comes with good provenance. Covarrubias was a gifted caricaturist and illustrator who wrote the landmark 1937 cultural and social study on Bali, Island of Bali. This work has with an estimated price of between Rp 10 – 13 million.

Ida Bagus Made Nadera," Nonton Wayang", 95x125cm, acrylic on canvas. - Copy                          Nonton WayangIda Bagus Made Nadera

 

Buying art as an investment is possible with the right strategy and this includes purchasing and holding a work for at least 10 – 20 years before selling. Three opportunities are available in the genre of Balinese contemporary art, including the aforementioned Lot 555, by Teja Astawa. Made Palguna has also developed his own ‘voice’ that is distinct within the sphere of Balinese contemporary art. Lot 553, Mencari Orang-orang Marjinal, 2003 by Palguna comes with an estimated price of between Rp 18 – 24 million. The final item for auction, Lot 577, comprises of two paintings, a. Energiku Bertambah, 2003, 70 x 70 cm & b. Malam Bergelora, 2001, 26 x 30 cm, by the iconic Balinese female artist IGAK Murniasih (1966-2006) who raised issues of sexuality, identity and gender politics in her works. These provocative paintings have an estimated price of between Rp 35 – 45 million.

There are many other strong works available in this auction, two are by the renowned traditional painter Gusti Ketut Kobot (1917-1999 Pengosekan, Ubud), Lot 531 Jatayu and Lot 527, Scene from Rajapala Story, while Lot 528, The Witch and the Servant, an ink on paper sketch by Gusti Nyoman Lempad has excellent provenance. For collectors interested in Indonesian modern art there are good works available by artists Widayat, Soedarso and Soedibio.

527                             Scene from Rajapala Story – Gusti Ketut Kobot

 

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.

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.

Dewa Putu Mokoh "Bima ke Suarga Loka"                             Bima ke Suarga Loka Dewa Putu Mokoh

 

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

 

Ida Bagus Made - "Mandi di Pancuran"                          Mandi di Pancuran – Ida Bagus Made Poleng

 

 

Viewing:

Thursday,         14 February   11am – 7.30pm

Friday,              15 January     11am – 7.30pm

Saturday,         16 January     11am – 1pm

Auction: Saturday 16 February, 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sujendra’s fantastic & light-hearted depictions of the underworld

"Senyummu Tangisku" 2018 Made Sujendra Image R. Horstman                         Senyummu Tangisku, 2018 – Made Sujendra

 

In Klungkung, East Bali, the former capital of the island, stands Kerta Gosa. An 18th century mandala shaped pavilion within the royal palace built by the monarch Dewa Agung Gusti Sideman, it functioned until 1908 as the kingdom’s court of law and justice.

Its ceilings are adorned with paintings from a Hindu Mahabharata epic, in the classical Balinese narrative style featuring wayang characters derived from the shadow puppet theatre. Scenarios describe divine retribution for law-breakers, one scenario depicts the afterlife fate of being cooked alive in cauldrons of boiling water by the ogres of hell.

The paintings served as teaching modalities promoting good moral behaviour and peace within Balinese society, and they are a source of inspiration behind Hell Sign, a solo exhibition of paintings by I Made Sujendra, open 1 December at TiTian Art Space, Ubud.

Installation view of Hell Sign at TiTian Art Space. Image TiTian Art Space          Installation view of “Hell Sign” at TiTian Art Space, Ubud, Bali

 

“Balance is the key to life according to the Balinese and when this is forsaken during the afterlife we will be subjected to dire consequences according to karmic laws,” Sujendra said.  “My paintings are stirred by my observations of life, and what is necessary for us to learn in order to live harmoniously, and ultimately avoid the cycle of reincarnation.”

“In my search for a new style within the framework of the Batuan techniques I moved away from the conventional crowded and complex compositions,” said Sujendra who is considered an outsider within the Batuan School of Balinese traditional art. “I experimented with simpler more minimal configurations that balance empty space with iconography in order to create a fresh and strong aesthetic impact.”

"Atma Prasangsa" 2011 made Sujendra Image R. Horstman                       “Atma Prasangsa” , 2011  – Made Sujendra

 

Lineage and the master/pupil relationship have played an important role in the development of Batuan painting, the most critically acclaimed genre of Balinese traditional art. Born in 1964, Sujendra is the son of accomplished painter Wayan Kabetan, who was a student of the iconic Batuan modernist innovator Nyoman Ngendon (1906-1946). “The Greedy Priest”, Sujendra’s landmark 1984 painting was featured in Dr Jelantik’s 1990 book Balinese Art, after which he was labelled the original ‘surrealist’ of the Batuan School.

Sujendra pioneered imagery and compositional structure in the mid 1980’s that more recently has become one of the catalysts in an exciting revival in the Batuan School, led by the new generation of emerging painters like Ari Sarmanta, Wayan Budiarta and Pande I Made Dwi Artha.

"Nafsu" (Lust) 2018 Made Sujendra Image Richard Horstman                         Nafsu (Lust) 2018 – Made Sujendra

 

Exploring life choices and the karmic consequences we are subjected to in the hereafter according to ancient Balinese beliefs, Sujendra’s themes include lust, adultery, greed, abortion, and reincarnation. In Kerja 2018 (work) Sujendra describes the afterlife scenario for those who have chosen an lazy and idle earthly existence. The payback is an eternity in hell as a beast of burden. Men are tethered to ploughs being whipped by demons, balls of fire explode with every stroke of their whips. With bodies are large and rotund, their faces depict anguish and dismay.

Senyummu Tangisku (Your smile is my tears) 2018, reveals two child-like characters cutting down trees. One offender is receiving retribution – restrained by two of hell’s guardians, one giving thumbs up and expressing delight, while the other cuts open the wrongdoer’s head with sharp tooth saw. For those who venture into the forest and shoot the wildlife without restraint Berburu & Diburu 2018 (hunters & the hunted) reveals hunters surrounded and under siege by a bevy of angry animals and demons. The afterlife scenario depicts the hunters being hunted by the very creatures they once pursued.

Made Sujendra at TiTian Art Space Image R. Horstman                          Made Sujendra at TiTian Art Space

 

And while Sujendra’s colourful and black and white compositions are indeed confronting they are, however defined by his sense of humour. His demonic creatures are at once serious, yet playful, exuding both horror and charm – his ogres appear as lovable ‘clowns’.

Eleven paintings and 2 installations feature in Hell Sign. Eight paintings are grouped together and presented as an installation that includes a large, flowing minimal red line mural of demonic creatures painted upon the gallery floor. The area has been cordoned off so that onlookers do not enter the space to closely inspect the works. They are forced to observe from a distance the group of paintings as a whole, and as a painting installation.

"Saya Kemana" 2018, Made Sujendra Image R. Horstman                             Saya Kemana, 2018 – Made Sujendra

 

“Exhibitions are about communication, and not only just display,” said TiTian Art Space founder Soemantri Widagdo.

Since its inception onto the Bali art landscape in January 2015 TiTian has set out to reconfigure the norms that have hindered the local art gallery model. In Hell Sign TiTian pushes the boundaries of exhibition design and presentation so that the local art audience has an opportunity to experience traditional art within a new framework, in fresh and exciting manner.

Detail of "Mabuk" Made Sujendra Image R. Horstman                    Detail of Mabuk, 2018 – Made Sujendra

 

“We strive to be at the leading edge of presenting art to the public, and we will push the boundaries using innovative exhibition design principles,” stated Widagdo. “Beyond our trademark of exhibiting only 9 paintings, we wish to introduce a new language in communicating ideas behind the artworks. We will explore installation concepts as our trademark rather than just a collection of hung paintings.”

A schoolteacher for the past two decades, Sujendra is well aware of the younger generation’s attraction to the imagery of the digital era. For them the Kerta Gosa paintings have lost their potency and appeal and a new aesthetic code is required. Sujendra’s renderings of the Balinese legends and folklore, however are a proven language, already a source of inspiration for the emerging artists of Batuan.

"Tantri - the Greedy Priest" 1984 Made Sujendra Image R. Horstman                     Tantri – the Greedy Priest, 1984 – Made Sujendra

 

Partial installation view - Hell Sign Image R. Horstman                    Partial installation view at TiTian Art Space

 

Hell Sign until 30 January 2019

TiTian Art Space

88 Jalan, Bisma, Ubud, Ginayar, Bali

Open Tuesday – Sunday 9am – 5pm

www.titianartspace.com

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images courtesy: Richard Horstman & TiTian Art Space

Satya Cipta – the rise of a unique female Balinese talent

Satya Cipta "Fragrance" 2018, chinese ink & kencu on paper Image Richard Horstman                                  Fragrance, 2018 – Satya Cipta                       

 

A beautiful, naked woman with long flowing hair sits legs raised, feet positioned above her head. In her left hand she is holding a red lotus flower concealing her groin. “Fragrance” an intimate, yet daring sketch by Balinese artist Satya Cipta ‘speaks’ of the feminine physical, and worldly splendour, and according to the artist, a woman’s desire to be perceived as one of nature’s most beautiful gifts.

“Broken Vulva”, on the other hand, is in stark contrast. It illustrates a woman ripping open her vagina, while a symbol of red fire is cited between her legs. This is a depiction of violence.

Satya Cipta "Broken Vulva" 2018 chinese ink & kencu on paper                                  Broken Vulva, 2018 – Satya Cipta

 

Explicit images of the body are in no way considered by the Balinese as vulgar or pornographic, they are essential teachings about the mysteries of human life and its origins. While male sexuality is openly explored in Balinese art, few artists are willing to expose female sexuality – the violence and suffering – as Satya has done.

In “A Budding Talent”, which closed 16 November 2018 at Ubud’s Puri Lukisan emerging artist Satya Cipta, in her first solo exhibition reveals the pleasure and pain, and the horror and beauty that are constant realities for the women of the Balinese culture.

In her semiotic works she juxtaposes themes such as resentment, marriage without love, adultery and rape with fertility, intimacy, solitude and passionate love. And while it is the complexity of her compositions, enhanced by the distinct power of her lines that reveal the aesthetic beauty of her works, like a poison pen the line is contrasted with wildly imaginative narratives. Some are not for the faint-hearted – they convey what is considered taboo within Balinese art.

Satya Cipta "The Offering" 2017 chinese ink, water color, acrylic and gold on canvas Image Richard Horstman                              The Offering, 2018 – Satya Cipta                          

 

An outsider within her own culture Satya’s situation is unlike many Balinese. Born in Lombok she came to Bali at a young age, then later moved to South Sumatra and resided with her family in a small minority Balinese group within an Islamic and Christian dominated environment. She went on to study theatre and performance in Jakarta before returning to Bali. Living outside of Bali, as well as in the nation’s capital gifted her an open and modern worldview.

“Before, when I was living in Sumatra and Jakarta I was proud to be Balinese and loved to participate in the ceremonies and rituals. When I returned to Bali I found things were much different,” Satya said. “I witnessed how people engaged in their religion within the temples showing respect to the gods and goddesses. When they returned home, however, they could not respect the real women in their lives – their mothers, sisters and wives.” She continued, “I discovered the domestic violence, and that women are trapped within their roles and cannot live their lives how they wish.”

Satya Cipta at the Puri Lukisan Museum Image R. Horstman                                    Satya Cipta at Museum Puri Lukisan                                                  

 

Destined to create controversy in this fiercely patriarchal society Satya is willing to courageously speak her mind. “I paint my pain,” she stated. “Yet this represents not only myself, but many other women throughout the world. I want people to understand about the position of the woman’s life within the Balinese society. Maybe it is forbidden – but I have to say it.”

“Change is slowly happening,” she admits. “The most difficult thing is to introduce the change. The first women to do so endure much criticism, then the others can more easily follow on.” Through Satya’s works we may witness a new era and that Balinese women too, are prepared to stand up in protest.

Satya Cipta "Darmi" 2018 Chinese ink & Kencu on canvas. Image R. Horstman                                          Darmi, 2018 – Satya Cipta

 

Her criticisms, however, are not only directed at men. In “Emptiness”, 2018 Satya depicts the scenario of a woman who marries into a family yet disrespects her mother-in-law. “Many women also forget their parents at home and wait for them to die so they can inherit the family’s land. She looks so beautiful, yet she is empty.”

A self-taught artist from the age of fourteen a decade later Satya began learning the renowned Batuan painting traditions. From there she kept pushing forward eager to improve and not to become stuck within the traditional mind-set. Two years ago she began studying under Ketut Budiana, recognized as one of the greatest living Balinese artists. “I am stepping into the next phase of my creative journey, and there is much to learn,” Satya said.

Satya Cipta "Spirit" 2018 chinese ink on hot pressed paper. Image R. Horstman                                     Spirit, 2018 – Satya Cipta

 

Holding her first solo exhibition at Puri Lukisan Museum, Ubud’s oldest and most important art museum, grants the artist immediate endorsement from the highest levels of the Balinese art establishment. Satya, however, remains humble. Offers have come from a leading regional gallery, but Satya choses to reject them, remembering that its her process that is essential and only when she believes she is ready will she focus on the international stage.

A wonderful and abundant source of creativity, she is also gifted actor, performer and singer. We eagerly await Satya Cipta’s next artistic offerings.

Satya Cipta "Disgusted" 2017 Chinese ink & acrylic on canvas                                   Disgusted, 2018 – Satya Cipta

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

 

 

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 have 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 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 Balinese traditional art will be presented free from the old narratives, given special curatorial attention to its significance, 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 the 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, a collector invested USD 2,000 – 3,0000 in 2003 on a masterpiece by Ida Bagus Putu Sena that 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 artists 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 to Balinese art  because of its quality and 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

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