Category Archives: Indonesia Contemporary Sculpture

Art Bali: a stepping-stone to a sustainable art ecosystem

sri mulyana, heri pemad & triawan munaf during the official opening of art bali - image courtesy of art baliMinister of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia, Sri Mulyani, Head of BeKraf, Triawan Munif and Heri Pemad during the opening of Art Bali 9 October 2018

 

Under wraps Art Bali, a world- class presentation of contemporary art by 39 Balinese, Indonesian and foreign artists in Nusa Dua, closed 9 November. The most anticipated art exhibition in the island’s recent history, it was Bali’s first venture into a realm of global art events.

The origins of Art Bali is the synergy of a relationship beginning in 1998 when Heri Pemad, CEO and Founder of ArtJog, Indonesia’s flagship contemporary art fair that has evolved into one of the most colourful and unique events on the global art map, and Balinese artist I Made Aswino Aji, were students studying fine art in Yogyakarta.

"self portrait" - filippo sciascia 2018 mixed media image richard horstman                            Self Portrait, 2018 – Filippo Sciascia

 

Pemad and Aswino Aji’s discussions began more than 3 years ago laying the event’s conceptual foundations, the catalyst in Art Bali’s realization, however, was Pemad’s relationship with BEKRAF (Agency for Creative Economy Indonesia). The opportunity arose when BEKRAF Director Triawan Munaf presented Pemad the challenge of organizing a special event to coincide with the annual meeting of the IMF & World Bank held in Nusa Dua Bali, 6 – 19 October.

According to Pemad the Indonesian government was inspired to include an event within the IMF –World Bank side program, the meeting was attended by 34,000 delegations from around 200 countries, “They wished to challenge the ideas of delegates visiting Indonesia for the first time that Indonesia was a still a traditional country. Through a presentation of contemporary art dialogue they could observe a nation in a process of development and change.”

entang wiharso_wisdom_aluminum, car paint, polyurethane, resin, graphite, steel bar, lightbulb, electric cable, thread, color pigment, lamp, stainless steel, chai                               Wisdom, 2018 – Entang Wiharso

 

Pemad’s immediate task was to create a branch of HPAM (Heri Pemad Art Management) in Bali with a local team, led by Aswino Aji. After two years of hard work and waiting for the Indonesian governmental bureaucratic process to fall into place the event was given the green light, which left two months for the physical details of Art Bali to become manifest.

Art Bali was opened by the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia Sri Mulyani 9 October. Held in a purpose built venue designed by Pemad and sited within the Nusa Dua tourism precinct in the AB•BC Building, set over 1000 square meters, it was erected in a whirlwind 40 days. “We are pushing Indonesian art onto the new map of the global creative economy,” said Triawan Munaf. “We are optimistic that the creative economy will become the backbone of the national economy.”

"the tragedy of resistance" made widya diputra 2018, mixed media image richard horstman                The Tragedy of Resistance, 2018 –  Made Widya Diputra

 

Global art events in Indonesia that present the finest local and international talent, attracting large national and international audiences, the media, collectors and the art industry have been a feature of the Java art landscape for over a decade. Art fairs, ArtJog and Art Jakarta have become crucial platforms and meeting points for the Indonesian art world – the event’s brands now securely positioned on the global art map.

“Art Bali will be an annual event,” Aswino Aji said. “The venue will become a new feature on the Bali landscape, in the pipeline is a series of regular events.” Art Bali, however, is the subject of speculation. If the event continues it could prove to be a vital game changer – a catalyst within the reconfiguration of an important economic sector that was the initial driver of the tourism economy on Bali almost a century ago.

galam zulkifli_seri ilusi - indonesia idea #voice face_acrylic, fluorescent, glow in the dark paint on canvas_400x600 cm (6 panels, each 200x200 cm)_2018             Seri Ilusi – Indonesia Idea #Voice Face, 2018 –  Galam Zulkifli

 

Art and cultural tourism was responsible for the first wave of tourism to the island beginning in the 1930’s, until 1945. In the 1970’s during a renewed period of tourism growth art and culture again played defining roles. Post 2008 witnessed the new phenomenon of lifestyle tourism, driven by events such as the Bali Spirit Festival, and the Ubud Readers & Writers Festival, along with the development of resort tourism, as the burgeoning new economic engines. The advancement of new digital technologies as practical and powerful tools has fuelled the rapid growth in these thriving sectors.

The lack of local initiative and know-how to build a dynamic and functional infrastructure has, however, resulted in art being almost forgotten within the island’s recent fortunes, with enormous social and monetary potential being unrealized – and this is where Art Bali becomes essential.

ashley bickerton "yello nose & orang nose" 2018 mixed media image richard horstman                Yello Nose & Orang Nose, 2018 – Ashley Bickerton

 

“Our aim is to help build a sustainable art eco system in Bali,” Aswino Aji stated.

For a sustainable art eco system to evolve three essential fundamentals from the 20th century global art machine must exist within the Bali art landscape; a world-class art fair, museum and auction house, all with international stature. Understanding and prioritizing the need to revive and preserve Bali’s renowned creative traditions is also vital. This may be achieved by a purpose built center for research and development that also focuses on the necessary platforms to launch products and talent into the 21st century global creative economy.

Each year Art Bali must inject fresh and exciting energy into its program, making it very international, with new artists and new works, building its brand beyond Indonesia; first targeting collectors from SE Asia, China, Japan and India. Understanding Art Bali’s target audience of national, regional and international art collectors, and being able to lure them to Bali will be one of the keys to its future success. When the above-mentioned key facets of the art infrastructure are in place, the other essentials will organically evolve.

courtesy of National Gallery of Indonesia                          The Traveller, 2018 – Eko Nugroho

 

For Art Bali to flourish and become the spearhead of a sustainable art eco system teamwork and collaboration is pivotal, including support from many Indonesian government ministries beyond BEKRAF, and likewise the cooperation from the Bali government. A challenge is how to mobilize the enormous pool of talent from Bali – its artists and art communities.

Art Bali needs to capitalize on the superb international branding power of Bali, while making a clear distinction from ArtJog by having an event with a strong Bali identity. A vision of how the sustainability of Bali’s art eco system can be achieved is possible. Art Bali is the first step in this process.

chusin setiadikara - "jejak-jejak jalur sutra" 2017 150 x 200cm oil & acrylic on canvas - image richard horstman                      Jejak-Jejak Jalur Sutra, 2017  – Chusin Setiadikara

 

nyoman erawan - "dancing with the shadows" 2018 mixed media image richard horstman               Dancing with the Shadows, 2018 – Nyoman Erawan

 

ab - bc bali collection building nusa dua, bali image richard horstman

 

www.artbali.co.id

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images courtesy of Art Bali & Richard Horstman

 

Advertisements

Welcome to Denpasar2018 Art+Design: An Exhibition & Movement

Invited artist Yoka Sara                        Denpasar2018 – invited artist Yoka Sara

 

During the month of October a unique program of activities presented by CushCush Gallery (CCG) in Denpasar highlights the ongoing transformation of the city into a modern creative hub that is evolving side-by-side with its cultural and historical icons. Opening 5 October DenPasar2018 Art+Design – An Exhibition & Movement headlines the program along with other community happenings, including Design Talk, Design Walk, Open Studios, that coincide with the launch of the DenPasar Art+Design Map 2018/2019.

 “In recent years many creatives from throughout Indonesia and overseas have been attracted to Bali for its lifestyle and rich culture. Many decide to base themselves here, while others return regularly. As the island’s multi-cultural society evolves so does its creative potential,” said CCG co-founder Suriawati Qiu, who along with her partner Jindee Chua in July 2016 launched CCG upon the local art and design landscape injecting exciting energy into Bali’s creative scene.

Curatorial Talk #1 with Kevin & Marishka 6 10 2018   Curatorial Talk #1 with Kevin & Marishka 6th October at CushCush Gallery

 

“Nowadays many of Bali’s youths have been educated in universities outside Bali and internationally, and then return. They are important agents of change and vital contributors to Bali’s artistic spirit and are stakeholders in the new emerging creative economy.”

The development of Bali’s contemporary art and design infrastructure (including new art spaces, co-working creative hubs, festivals, and organizations) are the important meeting and showcasing points for the thriving new generation of creatives. Following on from the first edition released in 2017 the DenPasar Art+Design Map 2018/2019 will include a listing of community events celebrating Art & Design in October.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA               Design Talk – Denpasar Inside : Out at Maya Sanur Ballroom

 

The DenPasar Art+Design Map 2018/2019 highlights museums, government and cultural institutions, art and design educational institutions, art galleries and creative spaces, art and creative communities, festivals, artists’ studios, cultural heritage/public spaces/monuments, and the markets within the city of Denpasar.  The map is endorsed by the Denpasar Central Government (Pemerintah Kota Denpasar), Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association and the Denpasar Tourism Promotion Board, along with the Indonesian Government’s Agency for Creative Economy, Badan KREATIF Denpasar. Printed in 10,000 copies the map will be distributed at selected Creative spaces and hotels in Bali over the next twelve months. The unique feature of this year’s map is the QR Code to allow direct access to the listed venues via the smart phone App.

“The recent importance given to the creative economy, and its support through government organizations such as Bekraf encourages initiatives in the Creative sectors of economy,” Suria added. “The government plays an important role too.”

Invited artist Alit Ambara                         Denpasar2018 – invited artist Alit Ambara

 

Three invited artists along with 12 Shortlisted Open Call artists will exhibit in DenPasar2018 – An Exhibition and Movement. Themed “Jingga”, which describes the colour of twilight and is a metaphor of how the people of Denpasar feel about both the joys and hardships living in Denpasar. The theme endeavours to capture varying perspectives within Bali’s multi-layered realities in a three-month long exhibition showcasing works of fine artists, designers, architects and performers. Works featured include paintings, installations, multimedia projections, photography, ceramic art, and posters.

Co-curated by Suriawati and Jindee, and independent curator Stella Katherine, the invited artists include Sydney-based painter and performer Jumaadi (b. 1973, Sidoarjo, East Java), who has collaborated with Balinese traditional Kamasan painters, designer and activist Alit Ambara (b. 1970, Singaraja, Bali), exhibiting his poster designs and artefacts used in social movements, and renowned artist and architect Yoka Sara (b. 1965, Denpasar, Bali), who founded and leads SPRITES ART & CREATIVE BIENNALE (est. 2013).

Layung #2 zatkimia 17 10 2018            Layung #2 zatkimia at CushCush Gallery 17th October

 

DesignTalk invites distinguished practitioners and scholars of architecture and design disciplines, including Budiman Hendropurnomo of DCM Indonesia, Maximilian Jencquel of Studio Jencquel, a lecturer and researcher from Warmadewa University Gede Maha Putra, and Japa Wibisana and Magat Kurniawan as representatives of the Indonesian Young Architects community, to share their specialized perspectives on the evolution and transformation of Bali’s architecture. DesignTalk is hosted by Suzy Annetta, the Editor-in-Chief of Design Anthology Magazine and is themed “Bali Inside:Out”.

DenPasar2018 Art+Design is a collective effort to mark the city with its own distinct character as a hub for contemporary arts, design and culture. With CCG’s DenPasar program we aspire to put Denpasar city in the mapping of contemporary Art + Design in Bali and beyond by showcasing the potential in Denpasar and inviting Art + Design lovers to come explore,” Suria stated.

Denpasar2018 Mural Jamming with Kuncir and students of ISI Denpasar on the walls of the Kerobokan prison 30 10 2018Mural Jamming on the walls of the Kerobokan Prison with Kuncir and art students from ISI Denpasar 30th October

 

This combination of an exciting mix of people who are presently in Bali, and the many active platforms give a rise to exciting collaborations and events, to be shared amongst local communities. This visionary initiative helps to lay the foundation for increasing art/cultural/design tourism into the island’s capital and developing the local creative economy.

Located near the heart of the city, CCG is in Gang Rajawali, off Jalan Teuku Umar. An alternative gallery, with an inspiring and unique program embracing interactions and multidisciplinary creativity via explorations at the intersections of art, design, materiality, techniques and crafts, CCG prioritizes community engagement and learning, along with children’s workshops. Open to the public CCG is a must see in Denpasar.

Invited artist Jumaadi

                          Denpasar2018 – invited artist Jumaadi

 

Gotong Royong Seni with Mella Jaarsma 10 11 2018gotong royong seni with Mella Jaarsma 10th November at CushCush Gallery

 

Denpasar2018 Ceramic Painting Workshop 20 10 2018               Ceramics painting Workshop at CushCush Gallery 20th October

 

 

 

DenPasar2018 Exhibition continues until 5 January 2019

Monday—Friday: 9:00AM–5:00PM
Saturday: 9:00AM–12:00PM

CushCush Gallery (CCG)

Jl. Teuku Umar Gg. Rajawali No.1A Denpasar, Bali

Tel. (62) 361 484558

http://www.cushcushgallery.com

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images courtesy: Denpasar2018 & CushCush Gallery

 

 

ArtJog 2018 attracts important international collectors

"Night with Frank L. Wright" Patricia Untario                             “Night with Frank L. Wright” – Patricia Untario

 

ArtJog, Yogyakarta’s unique and vibrant art fair is celebrating its eleventh instalment. Themed Enlightenment – Towards Various Future, open 4 May – 4 June at the Jogja National Museum, this year it presented more than 100 artworks by 54 national and foreign artists. Since its inception in 2008 ArtJog has grown to represent the voice of Indonesian contemporary art to the global audience, while becoming the premiere event within the Indonesian art infrastructure.

The event continues to grow in stature, attracting more-and-more national and international attendees, while improving its presentation, and artwork quality. ArtJog’s educational platform, the Curators Tours & Meet The Artist programs are an annual highlight, each year reaching new levels of popularity.

ARTJOG 2018_Facade and Opening CrowdThe crowd and exhibition space for the ArtJog commissioned art work by Mulyana Mogus during the event opening at the Jogja National Museum.

 

Artjog has successfully endured its first decade – an important test of time. Now past its infancy and into its teenage years the event’s brand consciousness becomes increasingly essential.  “It is not only the event publications and marketing that are important in the promotion of ArtJog, yet also the fair’s content. And this is the most challenging aspect,” said ArtJog Director Heri Pemad, when asked how ArtJog can evolve, becoming increasingly vital and important during the oncoming decade.

“The strength of the ArtJog exhibition themes, highlighting topics of discussion that we wish to raise are increasingly essential in order to attract top class Indonesian and international artists, along with the public’s attention. We need to continually focus upon issues that are globally relevant,” Pemad stated.

"Preserverance 3 series" By Hendra "Blankon"Priyadhani                        “Preserverance 3 Series” –  Hendra “Blankon” Priyadhani

 

This year the event attracted important international collectors, including the Filipino husband and wife duo Lito and Kim Camacho, who recently made their first visit to Central Java to attend ArtJog, and other events held within the region as a part of the Jogja Art Weeks (JAW) program.

“We are astonished by both the city of Yogyakarta and ArtJog,” said Kim Camacho, who along with Lito has accumulated one of the most impressive private art collections in the Southeast Asian region. Influential and visionary, they are renowned for being prolific collectors, with a unique eye for quality, identifying artists and works before they gain popularity.

ARTJOG 2018_Commission Work_Sea Remembers by Mulyana The undersea installation “Sea Remembers” by Bandung artist Mulyana Mogus

 

The Camacho’s first collected Gutai artists, a dynamic Japanese post-war contemporary art movement, well before they became recognized, and were quick to pay special attention to Yayoi Kusama. They began buying art in 1980 and their collection, which started with Filipino genre art, then grew to include Filipino masters and other Southeast Asian art, has evolved into a truly international assortment. “Collecting art in the Philippines is a much older tradition than in other Southeast Asian countries,“ said Lito, who was quoted as saying that ‘he and his wife prefer artists who are global in importance, and who have a place in art history’.

“Given that it is an artist based event, ArtJog is incredibly well-organized, featuring excellent presentation, along with artworks of high quality,” Kim said, and continued, “We are amazed by the number of artists and art communities that have thrived in Yogyakarta, and the standard of exhibitions we have visited during the Jogja Art Weeks program.

ARTJOG 2018_Curatorial Tour                             ArtJog Curatorial Tour hosted by Ignatia Nilu

 

“Attracting important international collectors adds increased credibility to the ArtJog brand,” Heri Pemad stated. “Its not only proof of our success, yet we need them to help promote our brand to a larger audience, and to entice more collectors from other countries to attend ArtJog. It is important that new international buyers not only collect the artworks, yet also gain greater appreciation for the wealth of Indonesian art, culture and history.”

“We have purchased many pieces during our visit to Yogyakarta,” said Kim Camacho. “Works that speak to us, not just as unique Indonesian contemporary art works, yet works that are relevant within the global context.”

Art work by Kexin Zhang                          Art work by invited Chinese artist Kexin Zhang

 

“We were captured by the beauty of Night with Frank L. Wright, at ArtJog, by Jakarta based artist Patricia Untario, and purchased her artwork. We were also very impressed by the JAW exhibition Bakaba #7Zaman Now by the Sakato Art Community. Outside of the event we loved the rich textural works by senior artist Aming Prayitno. We have recently collected a work by Yogyakarta artist Eddie Prabandono, and our first Indonesian purchases are works by the Balinese contemporary master Made Wianta,” Kim stated, and continued, “Indonesian art is incredibly under priced for works of such excellent quality.”

Other important collectors who attended ArtJog include the President & CEO of Time International, Irwan Danny Mussry, Dr. Oei Hong Djien of the OHD Museum in Magelang, Haryanto Adikoesoema, the founder of Jakarta’s new international standard museum, MACAN, and Iwan Lukminto who recently opened the new Tumurun Museum in Solo, Central Java.

ARTJOG 2018_Daily Performance_Rianto                           One of the daily performances at ArtJog by Rianto

 

flowerAThe Japanese Garden – Interactive installation by Japanese performance artist Hiromi Tango

 

kidA         A child engages with The Japanese Garden – Image by Ayu Mandala

 

 

ArtJog – Enlightenment

Continuing through to 4 June 2018

Daily from 9am – 5pm

Jogja National Museum

Jalan Prof. Ki Amri Yahya No. 1, Yogyakarta

www.artjog.co.id

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Coutesy of ArtJog & Richard Horstman

 

 

“Dipping in the Kool Aid” highlights collaborations between contemporary artists & inmates of Bali prisons

Rodney Glick "Pixel Buddha" image courtesy of apexart Gallery New York                                           Pixel Buddha – Rodney Glick

 

What is the value of human life?

How does our society appraise personal endeavour, imagination and creativity when the priority of doctors and medical staff in hospitals is the preservation of life? Governments and penal systems assess prisoners as having little to contribute to community, some electing to terminate the lives of ‘serious offenders’ through capital punishment. Why is it acceptable for governments to execute people, while murder is illegal?

The exhibition “Dipping in the Kool Aid” relates to aspects of prisons and the incarceration system, and opened at Tony Raka Art Gallery, Ubud 4 March. It features the artworks of prisoners, artworks produced from workshops given by contemporary artists in Bali prisons, and independently produced works by some of the invited established and emerging Indonesian and Australian artists.

malaikat copy                                       King Kong’s Land – Malaikat

The works selected from a range of workshops, predominantly in the Klungkung Jail, East Bali, and the Bangli Jail, include installations, paintings, drawings and photographs, along with a painting by a member of the controversial Bali Nine inmates, Renae Lawrence.

“A function of prisons practically everywhere in the world ensures inmates are social outsiders, largely invisible to most citizens,” said Australian artist Mary Lou Pavlovic who organized and curated the exhibition. “Our central concern is to bring aspects of prison life to public view.”

The idea of the exhibition emerged from an art program Pavlovic helped establish with inmates at the Bangli Jail, Central Bali soon after the second round of prisoner executions were ordered by the President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo in 2015. “Our aim is to cherish and preserve life, the driving motivator for this entire project.”

Mary Lou Pavlovic and prison inmates Mary Lou Pavlovic with input from April, Exyl, Hendra, and Kadek,collaborative installation "Suspended Sentiments" Image courtesy of "Dipping in theSuspended Sentiments – Mary Lou Pavlovic and women inmates from the Klungkung and Bangli jails.

In April 2017 Pavlovic’s proposal written in response to the open call Apex Franchise Exhibition, sponsored by the apexart Gallery New York, offering funded exhibition opportunities, won. More than two hundred international art expert jurors had voted for her proposal to curate an exhibition in Bali about artists and prisoners collaborations arising from prison workshops. A non-profit arts organization in Lower Manhattan, apexart is funded in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation, and offers opportunities to independent curators and emerging and established artists, and challenges ideas about art, its practice, and its curation.

Highlights of “Dipping in the Kool Aid”, in which the cell formation is a theme of the exhibition’s presentation to emphasize the living space – life behind bars within a prison cell, include, the tiny, delicate folded paper birds “Terapi Origami/Orizuru” by Ridwan Fatkhurodin a.k.a. Kriyip on display, yet also given as symbolic gifts to attendees during the opening ceremony, Kenyut Djunaidi’s collaborative etched mirror self-portraits “Kamu Adalah Aku, (You are Me)” and Australian Rodney Glick’s humorously militarized carved wooden icon “Pixel Buddha”. Elizabeth Gower’s “365 Rotations” adds an ethereal element to the show. Multiple circular collages Gower and inmates forged from discarded packaging and advertising material form a constellation of wonderful geometric patterns.

"Angki Purbandono "Out Of the Box" Image courtesy of apexart                                Out of the Box – Angki Purbandono

Popular Indonesian artist Angki Purbandono presents an installation of photographs “Out of the Box” revealing his experience of ‘doing time’. Incarcerated for one year in Yogyakarta during 2013 for smoking marijuana, refusing to accept his imprisonment, Angki declared instead that he was undertaking an artist’s residency, and taught a guard how to take photographs. He also established the Prison Art Programs, a group of inmates and ex-inmates who exhibit art inside and outside the jail; some members are included here.

Three meters by three and a half meters wide, luminescent and sparkling with life “Suspended Sentiments”, features over 1700 individual cells with flowers, leaves, nuts, berries, butterflies, bugs and Christmas decorations embedded within epoxy resin. Pavlovic’s wall installation, the outcome of workshops for women in Klungkung and Bangli Jails is beguiling in beauty and simplicity, yet rich in emotion.

31052365_10155177701881916_4372840048123445248_n                                   Forgiveness #2 – Mangu Putra

“Physical power is defeated by wisdom,” said renowned Balinese painter Agung Mangu Putra of his composition, “Forgiveness 2”. Inspired by an iconic image, originally popularized by Indonesia’s founding father, President Sukarno, who was photographed bowing to his mother, the state symbolically begs the pardon of not only a mother, but of a citizen, instead of the usual power dynamic in which citizens bow before the state. Mangu’s Putra’s painting reveals a state official – a soldier – bowing and begging forgiveness of his mother, who has taken away his gun.

“American jail slang for entering uninvited into a conversation, the phrase “Dipping in the Kool Aid” pays tribute to the discrete Javanese tradition of Pasemon,” Pavlovic said. Reflecting on Indonesia’s revolutionary era of political art that began under the authoritarian President Suharto’s New Order regime (1966-1998), artists and journalists used an indirect form of satire to criticize the government. Pasemon is elegant because it touches the conscience,” she continued. “Correcting without embarrassing authority.”

30706637_10155177599011916_7359454426228064256_n                Terapi Origami/Orizuru  –  Ridwan Fatkhurodin a.k.a. Kriyip

“Values expressed in this exhibition contrast with aspects of the government’s treatment of prisoners recently in Indonesia. Pasemon has created a space for us in which our political positions are clarified without scratching the wound.”

30741219_10155177702336916_1128266463887491072_n              365 Rotations  –  Elizabeth Gower with inmates from Bangli Jail

30703717_10155176985641916_986154805040775168_o               View of “Dipping in the Kool Aid” at the Tony Raka Art Gallery

 

30708338_10155177599166916_6226232579398303744_n        After Hit n Run  –  Herman Yosef Dhyas Aries Utomo (a.k.a. Komeng)

 

Dipping in the Kool Aid”

Open to the public daily 10am – 5pm,

4 – 31 March 2018

Tony Raka Art Gallery,

JI.Raya Mas No. 86 Mas, Ubud, Bali.

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images courtesy: apexart Gallery New York, Mary Lou Pavlovic & Bima Basudewa

“art, just like life, is an ongoing process,” Wayan Upadana

apapun yang terjadi, hidup harus dijalani#1, water colour and ink on paper, 37 cm x 55 cm, 2012
                           Apapun terjadi, harus jalan, 2013  – Wayan Upadana
 Can you imagine icons of the Balinese culture represented reclining, cheerfully in a bathtub or bowl, drenched in luscious, liquid chocolate? The idea makes the eyebrows rise, while stimulating the  taste buds too.
These unusual figures, sculptures by Balinese contemporary artist Wayan Upadana are, however, expressed not only to incite our curiosity, yet also in order to make important statements. Under the spotlight is the meeting of two opposing worlds, that of the artist’s traditional culture along with the modern, And according to the artist, there are critical related issues that require immediate attention.
Iwayan upadana 'the process' 2012 Video instalation in sculpture ( Polyester resin, spray paint                         The Process, video installation, 2012 – Wayan Upadana
Art is a mysterious medium, perhaps one of the most misunderstood of all human
expressions. Somehow in the process miraculous and unimaginable creations become manifest. Often from sources completely unknown. In the case of Wayan Upadana, how does this young artist’s imagination and creative prowess arrive at works so fantastic, yet relevant as well?
“Contemporary art in Bali is still growing,” says Upadana. “Yet to avoid becoming stuck and rehashing ideas, local artists need to pursue new experiences and learning prospects
– they need to invest in traveling outside of their island.” In the process of creative development it is essential for young contemporary artists, living within the
restraints of their Balinese Hindu culture, to step outside of their communities and be introduced to new artistic landscapes, ideas, freedoms and alternative cultures. Not to mention have the opportunity to access different and higher standards of education.
Tanah Sekolah Dasar, G-5, Oct 2013, Tony Raka Art Gallery
                                           Tanah Sekolah Desa, 2013 – G5
“My love of Balinese traditional art and culture inspired me as a child to draw and paint. I am continually fascinated by the array of creative expressions people are able to invest energy into. Yet it wasn’t until studying painting in high school that I began to dream of becoming a professional artist,” says Upadana. “In 2000 I saw an important exhibition by Indonesia’s most respected art collective, Sanggar Dewata Indonesia (SDI) in a museum in Bali. This had an enormous impact upon my future visions.”
In 2001 Upadana moved from Bali to the city of Yogyakarta, Central Java, the cultural capital of Indonesia, driven by his dream of becoming an SDI member, and a desire to learn of new cultures. To become a member of SDI Upadana had to study art at the prestigious Yogyakarta ISI, the Indonesian Art Institute.
scream, water colour and ink on paper,28 cm x 56 cm 2012
                                         Scream, 2013 – Wayan Upadana
What we foreigners may perceive as a mere relocation to the neighboring island of Java is in fact something few Balinese ever consider contemplating because the Balinese culture is very much focused on systems of cooperation between families and the community, while offering social and religious security.
ISI molds artists of distinction, and somehow the character of their creativity is easily recognizable. Renown for producing some of the most important experimental Balinese artists, spearheaded in the 1970’s by the likes of Gunarsa, Wianta and Erawan, ISI Yogya, for those with the opportunity and the desire, is a pinnacle, and one of the most popular destinations of the Indonesian art education system.
21457620_1190157641128184_2350840054727607781_o
                                        Wayan Upadana 2017

At ISI Yogya, captivated by the exploration of 3 dimensional forms, Upadana studied sculpture, working with various materials including wood, stone, metals and resins. He learned the craft of video art that has become a powerful language for communicating his ideas, and especially important in emphasizing one of his main concepts, that art, just like life is an ongoing process. In many of Upadana’s recent sculptures he utilizes resin, and the manner in which these works are completed often emphasizes melting and flowing liquid forms, cleverly underlining his concept.

Living in Yogyakarta presented Upadana with challenges that helped to strengthen
his character, amongst them working to support his studies and living costs carving stone sculptures and doing whatever tasks he could to earn money. The “friction” created by the multi cultural fusion of Indonesian ethnic groups unique to Yogyakarta provided fertile grounds for contemplation and ingestion of creative ideas. Looking from the outside in, Upadana became increasingly sensitive to the social and environmental changes confronting Bali. He learned to become the observer, and via his art, a critic of his own Balinese culture.
20161206_170532
                                                   Wayan Upadana
The pig is an icon of Balinese culture, yet for Upadana this animal serves as a metaphor for the Balinese people. In works such as his quirky, yet comical sketches on paper with water color from his 2013 exhibition GloBaliasi, the pig is the embodiment of the dualistic nature of life confronting Balinese youths living between modern and traditional cultures. In his sculptures featuring pigs, reclining in Balinese ceremonial bowls covered in chocolate, the pig becomes a humorous communicator of critical ideas.
What Upadana is suggesting is that his people are too quick to enjoy the material spoils of globalization without enough consideration to the increasing environmental, social and personal impacts and conflicts that money and modern development bring to Bali.
15272172_988995764577707_7693382795529819053_o
                      Si Gendut Pencari Tuhan, 2016  – Wayan Upadana
A decade in Yogya has made a definitive impact upon Upadana and helps to explain why he is capable of creating art of such a unique quality. Born 1983 in the small village of Saba, Blahbatuh, Gianyar, this experience for Upadana, who began exhibiting in 2002, has enabled him to achieve notable career results. For example, finalist of the 2011
BaCAA (Bandung Contemporary Art Award) and the “UOB Art Awards – Painting of the Year 2011”, and in 2013 again a finalist at the BaCAA, and finalist of the 2013 Trimata
National Art Award. Justifiably Upadana is regarded as one of the most promising young artists in Bali today.
During his time in Yogyakarta Upadana formed bonds with other fellow Balinese art students that led to the birth of the art collective G-5. Consisting of five graduates of ISI
Yogya, all born in Gianyar, who resided in the city for 10 years, or more, G-5 became one of the most exciting group of emerging artists in Bali. Whether producing art on his own or along with G-5, Upadana’s talent is never far from the national spot light, continually catching the eye of critics, art lovers and collectors as well.
20161206_170546
                             Euphoria Globalasi, 2010 – Wayan Upadana
dsc-0679_orig
The Desire of Gravity, 2017 – Wayan Upadana.  Exhibited at the 13th annual Sculpture by the Sea, March, 2018, at Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia.
Words: Richard Horstman
Images: Wayan Upadana & Richard Horstman

Citra Sasmita captures the Indonesian contemporary art spotlight

Citra Sasmita - "Torment" Image by R. Horstman                                       Torment – Citra Sasmita

 

The most significant display of contemporary art on the island during 2015 featured many of Bali’s finest artists exhibiting side-by-side with emerging talent. Violent Bali – Bali Art Intervention #1, opened at the Tony Raka Art Gallery, Ubud in November presenting eighty-five works raising issues such as identity, gender and cultural conflicts, and the New Order regime and the mass killing of 1965-66, among others.

One painting, however, stood alone for its pure economy of means. Distinguished by a balanced composition, minimal coloration and arresting imagery, the visual impact was immediate. Matching technical prowess with the controversial subject matter, the work’s essentials were complete. Torment by Citra Sasmita, one of only three exhibiting women, captivated the audience. The bold, yet disturbing narrative depicted a naked woman holding and kissing the snout of severed pigs head as blood drips from the pig, and the woman’s mouth. It ‘spoke’ of the psychological and physical abuse of women within the patriarchal Balinese society. Torment’s daring and aesthetic simplicity revealed Sasmita as an extraordinary young talent.

Citra Sasmita "Mea Vulva Maxima Vulva" 2016 Ceramic & mixed media Image richard Horstman                      Mea Vulva Maxima Vulva – Citra Sasmita

“You want to be an artist: you want to live poor?” was Sasmita’s fathers’ reaction upon learning that his daughter wanted to study fine art. Born in 1990 in Tabanan, Central Bali, as a child she had a passion for creative expression, and was destined to follow her heart. In conflict with her parents about her vocation, she studied literature and physics to appease them. While at university in Singaraja she joined a theater group that inspired her love of art and literature. Sasmita began painting secretly, without her parent’s knowledge, eventually exhibiting in a small community event in 2012.

“A journalist from the Bali Post newspaper wrote about the exhibition, and my parents read the review. At first, they disagreed,” Sasmita said. “Yet upon their final wishes, they consented, and then gave me their approval for my art career. I have always reflected upon this,” and she adds. “Without their blessing, it seemed impossible to survive in the challenging and highly competitive world of art.”

Citra Sasmita, third from the left, at the UOB Painting of the Year Award CeremonyCitra Sasmita (third from the left) during the UOB Painting of the Year Indonesia award ceremony, Jakarta, October 2017

After the exhibition, Sasmita was hired as an illustrator for short stories at the Bali Post. “Working at the Bali Post allowed me to investigate literature and symbolic forms that I began to adopt into my works. Art became the vehicle through which I could question my position as a Balinese woman.”

Promising to be the most important exhibition of the 2016 Bali art calendar Merayakan Murni (Celebrating Murni) ran mid-year at Sudakara Art Space, Sanur. Contextualizing the relevance, along with celebrating the legacy of iconic female Balinese artist I GAK Murniasih (1966-2006), the exhibition brought together the work of Murni along with 15 other local and international invitees. Sasmita’s installation Mea Vulva, Maxima Vulva, presented fifty small ceramic vaginas within a set of large out of balance scales, her reflection upon Balinese social class distinctions. Again she captured the audience’s imagination, while the critics paid due attention.

Old Mountain and Imaginary Pilars, 160 cm x 120 cm, mix media on canvas, 2017        Old Mountain and Imaginary Pillars – Citra’s UOB Gold Award painting

Even though Sasmita had entered many art competitions, success had always eluded her. “I became cynical, unless you were from one of the art and cultural capitals of Java, like Yogyakarta, Bandung or Jakarta, it was difficult to win a national competition,” she explained. In October 2017, however, her composition Old Mountain and Imaginary Pillars was honored with the prestigious Gold Award of the UOB Indonesian Painting of the Year 2017 competition, thrusting her into the national spotlight, while confirming her presence in the Indonesian contemporary art world.

“I have always doubted my chances in the UOB, last year, however, was my first submission,” Sasmita said. “In my concept, I wrote whole-heartedly about the plight of women in the Indonesian art world, and about the struggle against gender bias and sexism, and that there are few opportunities for women to speak up through their art.”

Sasmita has chosen her ideology not only as a criticism, yet she endeavors to inspire empathy for those who are confronted with these social issues. “It means a lot to me to achieve recognition from people who have not been willing to listen to my artistic ‘voice’, and in some ways disrespect women in Indonesian art,” Sasmita said. “Winning this competition is a great thrill, I understand, however, that I must remain humble and focused on my learning journey.”

12697353_896845307096369_7827360737894318145_o                              Birth of Nothingness – Citra Sasmita

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Citra Sasmita & Richard Horstman

Art eccentric – Ida Bagus Alit

Ida Bagus Alit                             The effervescent Ida Bagus Alit

 

The art world adores eccentric characters.

Lurking beneath the exterior of Balinese artist Ida Bagus Alits’ wacky persona is, however, a highly practical, compassionate and intelligent man. These traits meld into an effervescent personality that enchants everyone he meets.

Within the Balinese art world Gus Alit, as he is affectionately known, is a popular and unique figure; painter, sculptor, photographer, event organizer and art collective leader. A member of a well-known Brahmin high caste family in Denpasar, there is an aristocratic air about him, especially when attired in traditional costume and sporting his suave reading glasses. Yet one is not to be intimidated or coy within his presence, Gus Alit is as playful, and as friendly as a kitten.

Gus Alit’s passion for photography has drawn him along two distinctive paths. He is dedicated to documenting Balinese religious ceremonies around the island, capturing rare events, and the unique traditional costumes that characterize separate villages.  He does, however love to experiment with painting techniques upon printed images on canvas, striving to achieve new aesthetic results with his art photography.

Ida Bagus Alit, "No Doubt" 2014.                                No Doubt – Ida Bagus Alit

Grinning happily as he reveals images captured on his iPhone, his ever-ready pocket camera, Gus Alit explains one of the “secrets” of his photographic technique. The photos are of young Balinese women clad in traditional dress, glamorous and alluring – the iconic image of Balinese feminine beauty.

“At first they are shy, some even refuse to be photographed,” he says referring to his initial meetings with the models. “Yet I always win them over with a joke and my humor quickly sets them at ease.”   His photos recount the process of their transition from being restrained and rigid, to being relaxed and glowing in front of the camera. “Its important to make your models feel comfortable in order to capture and allow their inner beauty to shine.”

27797357_1905610429450254_2276016392130748197_o                              The Beautiful Balinese – Ida Bagus Alit

There are often visitors to Griya Satria Art House, Gus Alit’s family’s home on Jalan Veteran, opposite the bird market in Denpasar. They may be friends, family, or new acquaintances, locals and foreigners, all curious to see the collection of art on display set in lush tropical gardens while being enhanced by traditional Balinese architecture.   Recently more and more young couples, brides and grooms in traditional costume, stop by to be photographed by professional photographers, surrounded by Gus Alit’s unusual paintings and sculptures. The consequences are unique momentos that they surely will look back on with pride.

“This is a new era in photography,” Gus Alit says with a cheeky smile stretching from ear to ear.“ They now go from the Bali museum to Griya Satria Art House for their wedding photos.”

Of course Gus Alit jumps into the action and captures the couples in all their glory, as well. Often he will print the photo onto canvas then paint the background in his flamboyant style. If the subject is a friend he may gift them with the work, however many of his subjects upon seeing his creations, request to buy these unique images directly from him.

Ida Bagus Alit, "Friendship" 2011, acrylic on canvas                                   Friendship – Ida Bagus Alit

“What is important is not to copy,” exclaims Gus Alit. “True art must come from the heart.”

As the long serving president of B.I.A.S.A (Bali Indonesia Sculptors Association), he is a driving force in the promotion and preservation of traditional woodcarving, and contemporary sculpture in Bali. I question Gus Alit on the value of art collectives in Bali, which he believes are essential to the development of local art.

“As individuals or groups its important to know our strengths and weaknesses. Through this we will learn the ways and methods to move ahead. Learning is life long education,” he states with a wisdom that almost belies his jovial character. “As the head of B.I.A.S.A I take the time to visit each of the members and discuss with them their challenges and I help to provide solutions. B.I.A.S.A is like a big family to me.” Gus Alit is well versed in the concept of leadership with the heart.

 

IMGP4843                                Sculpture by Ida Bagus Alit

Abstract and figurative wood cravings are a fusion of the rich natural rhythms of the timber intertwined with faces and figures. Although they are not always be beautiful, Gus Alit introduces imaginative possibilities, while adhering to a yin/yang theme. Some of his sculptures he paints in an outrageous manner that none dare to copy.

While contemplating his paintings the observer may wonder what on earth are these creations! Are they the musings of a complete oddball? His large compositions, some canvases measuring over 4 meters in width, each, however, have themes taken from his culture, for example Tri Hita Kirana, the Balinese philosophy of three fold harmony between man, nature and the gods.

Gus Alit’s paintings are as eccentric as is his personality. A fusion of bright colors, figures and forms, they are both surrealistic and dynamic at once. Adaptations from the Wayang Kulit shadow puppet-theater and traditional masks, his figures and faces have evolved into quirky, other worldly creatures. Akin to galactic landscapes that flow across the canvas his compositions express humor while accentuating that art should be fun to create.

IMGP4842                             Painting by Ida Bagus Alit

“To be a real artist you have to be free and strive to create your own works under your own responsibility.”

His C.V lists the exhibitions he has participated in over the past 40 years, numbering well over one hundred. Born in Denpasar 1947, Gus Alit’s works have been displayed in many countries, while his buyers come from every corner of the planet. In 2006 he participated in an artist in residency program, as well as having a solo exhibition at the Vermont Studio Center, USA. A self-taught artist, who regularly travels abroad, his initial childhood inspiration has come from studying his artist father, Ida Bagus Agung.

Watching him chiseling away at a carving, with an eye for detail, while being the picture of focus and determination, his wiry hands and arms are powerful, yet sensitive as well. Gus Alit values the virtues and importance of art and culture above himself, is an asset to the island, and a proud ambassador of the Balinese arts.

IMGP4855                                 Sketches by Ida Bagus Alit

Gus Alit welcomes visitors at Griya Satria Art House,Jalan Veteran, opposite the bird market in Denpasar.

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Ida Bagus Alit, Monika Kiraly & Richard Horstman