Category Archives: Indonesian Contemporary Art

the Unsung Museum – highlighting issues challenging Indonesia’s on-going struggle for democracy

A miniture work "They Gave Evidence" by Dadang Christianto, collected by the Unsung Museum. Photo by Wirya Satya AdenatyaA miniature work “They Gave Evidence” by Dadang Christianto, collected by the Unsung Museum. Photo by Wirya Satya Adenatya

 

The Unsung Museum (Museum Tanpa Tanda Jasa) is a landmark, travelling exhibition that is currently crisscrossing the country and features miniature artworks that are big on cultural significance. The exhibition highlights the most important issues challenging Indonesia’s on going struggle for democracy since the nation’s colourful, fledgling journey began. These issues include tolerance of minority groups, along with ethnic, ideologically and religious diversity, and collective harmony.

Taking a series of chronologically banned, destroyed, removed or censored artworks the Unsung Museum displays them in scaled-down miniature versions of the real things. Accompanying these mini-masterpieces are news articles from the time, together with amusing parodied public reactions and news media video installations.

“Art is no stranger to controversy; throughout its history it has presented works that have irked the moral guardians of the day,” said Yogyakarta based curator Grace Samboh, one of many members of the Indonesian contemporary art community who have initiated the Unsung Museum in an event that characterizes the social conscience and synergy of some of the country’s most relevant and motivated artists and activists. “Sometimes to see why an artwork that is deemed controversial, we need to see it from a different perspective, and what better way is there than to see it in miniature.”

An audience member at ROH Projects, Jakarta during the Undsung Museum - Photo Credit: Wirya Satya Adenatya.An audience member at ROH Projects, Jakarta during the Undsung Museum – Photo Credit/ Wirya Satya Adenatya

Beginning September 2016 at Jakarta’s ROH Projects, for 3 weeks the exhibition set out to inform, not only citizens, yet members of the Indonesian art industry, of the relevance of these pressing issues. The exhibition was next showcased in Central Java, at Yogyakarta’s Kedai Kebun Forum from late October running into November, then opening in West Java, at Bandung’s Ruang Gerilya, 15 December until 7 January 2017.

“We are retelling stories of several artworks that were once considered a ‘public nuisance’ during the Reformation Era because of three recurring reasons related to pornography, communism and SARA (ethnic, religion, race and inter-group relations) by three elements of the society (citizens/individuals, mass organizations and government),” Samboh said. “Based on these assumptions, several artworks attracted a variety of problems ranging from threats, restrictions, and even destruction.”

The country with the largest Islamic population on the planet, with Christian, Buddhist and Hindu religious minorities, however, is currently undergoing its most turbulent and disruptive period. The recent 8 May controversy at the Indonesian Islamic University’s Center for Human Rights Studies in Yogyakarta with the banning of paintings and poetry by members of the youth organization Pemuda Pancasila who enforced the closure of artist Andreas Iswinarno’s exhibition, Tribute to Wiji Thukul: Saya Masih Utuh dan Kata-kata Belum Binasa (I’m still complete and words have not yet been destroyed) on suspicion the works contained communism ideas, highlights the urgency of the Unsung Museum.

IMG_5400 Kredit foto Wirya Satya AdenatyaAt ROH Projects, Jakarta during the Undsung Museum – Photo Credit/ Wirya Satya Adenatya

“Bearing in mind a number of concerns about the stability of (ideas within) democracy, as well as democratic behavior in today’s society, our main question is: What does democracy mean to each and every one of us today, as part of the society, as citizens, and as someone who works in the arts?” Samboh said reflecting on the inspiration behind the exhibition. “We have adopted the concept of a mobile museum for the exhibition due to its informative nature and educational aspects, as well as its openness to the public.”

The mini works collected by the Unsung Museum include versions of: ‘Pinkswing Park’, a walled photomontage by Agus Suwage and Davy Linggar, exhibited at the 2005 Jakarta CP Biennale, it was deemed to be blasphemous by Islamic fundamentalists FPI who forced the closure of public access to the work, while demanding prosecution of the artists, and They Gave Evidence exhibited in 2002 in Jakarta by Dadang Christanto, a major ceramic series of standing, naked figures, in their outstretched arms holding the remnants of burnings, drownings, beatings and other human mutilations, victims of oppression, social injustice and political violence.

Also collected are miniatures of a public artwork by Nyoman Nuarta that Islamic organizations protested against stating they were representational of Christian iconography and was consequently dismantled from its site in West Java in 2010. As well, an artwork by Galam Zulkifli that was removed in 2016 from the new Terminal 3 complex at the Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta. Zulkifli’s enormous 200 x 600 cm painting includes iconic figures in the development of the Indonesian nation. Seri Ilusi # The INDONESIA IDEA was taken down in order to avoid a polemic on social media as one of the portraits in the painting featured DN Aidit, the former chairman of the Indonesian Communist Party.

An audience member during the opening of the Unsung Museum at ROH Projects, Jakarta - Photo Credit: Wirya Satya AdenatyaAn audience member during the opening of the Unsung Museum at ROH Projects, Jakarta – Photo Credit/ Wirya Satya Adenatya

“Within conversations surrounding these artworks, the conclusion is often misunderstanding,” Samboh explains. “The arts community considers the dismissal of these artworks were due to some people having misunderstood or failed to understand altogether. In fact, quite often the misunderstandings come not only from those who dismiss these artworks but also from the arts community itself.”

“The Unsung Museum is not an attempt to point out rights and wrongs. In light of democracy, we want to poke people’s awareness on equality of knowledge upon rights and obligations of the various elements in the arts community—within art disciplinary context.”

Along with Samboh the Unsung Museum is initiated by Aliansyah Chaniago, Fajar Abadi RDP, Jim Allen Abel, Julian Abraham ‘Togar’, Maryanto and Tamara Pertamina, while inviting other people, and aspires to continue inviting more people over time. “The Unsung Museum has already received strong public response,” Samboh said. “We are now compiling the feedback, and the topics are being discussed in the hope that we can publish a book on views of our recent democracy through the art publics’ perspective.”

“Our mission is to rekindle discussions about democracy in the Reformation Era with the arts community whilst not closing itself from the involvement of other members of the community.”

An audience member photographs part of the Unsung Museum- Photo by Wirya Satya Adenatya

The Unsung Museum is scheduled to continue in Medan, North Sumatra, and Makassar and Manado in Sulawesi early in 2018.

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Wirya Satya Adenatya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DENPASAR2017 – highlighting the diverse creativity of Denpasar

DENPASAR2017 Group - for caption see emailThe starting journey of DENPASAR2017. 17 participating creatives, together with invited speakers Marlowe Bandem and Ayip Budiman after DENPASAR TALK posed for a group photo to mark the beginning of their DENPASAR2017 exploration.

 

Since its arrival upon the Bali art and design landscape in July 2016, CushCush Gallery (CCG) in Denpasar has injected fresh and exciting energy into the local creative scene. 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.

In a city that is becoming a melting pot of Indonesian ethnicity with internationals, highlighted by a thriving youth culture, CCG is making a positive, and much needed contribution to the island’s contemporary art infrastructure. And while Denpasar is rapidly expanding and a new contemporary urban culture is in the making, creative hubs such as CCG feed the growing demand for meeting points that are potent venues for the sharing of ideas and discussion.

Urban Sketchers Bali presentation for DENPASAR2017 Exhibition, Image by R. Horstman Part of the panoramic of watercolours by Urban Sketchers Bali presentation for DenPasar2017 Exhibition

In 2017 CCG facilitates a year round program of exhibitions, residencies, workshops and collaborations that focuses on the development of contemporary art and design experiences in Denpasar and Bali, hosting exchanges between the local and international communities of artists and creatives and Bali.

“This year’s DenPasar2017 is a new and exciting, yearly CCG program that we believe is destined to put Denpasar on the map of the art and design route in Bali,” said CCG’s co-founder Suriawati Qiu. “The exhibition will introduce locally based young artists and creatives with works that speak of Denpasar.”

Marlem Bandem giving a presentation for Denpasar Walk             Marlem Bandem giving a presentation during DenPasar Walk

The DenPasar2017 program of weekly events began 10 June with the Launch of the DenPasar2017 Art & Design Map, and Meet the Artists of DenPasar2017, part 1 (of 2). This was followed by activities such as KitaPoleng & Denpasar Deaf Community dance workshop, led by the brilliant Japanese, Bali-based dancer and choreographer Jasmine Okubo, workshops by the Urban Sketchers Bali Academy, DenPasar Street Talk, with street artists Slinat, Bombdalove and Swoofone, and DesignTalk with Nyoman Miyoga, Fransiska Prihadi, Charlie Hearn and Eva Natasa. The program culminates on 26 August with the presentation of Three Eras of Denpasar by Masuria Sudjana and the silent movie screening of Arsip Bali 1928, narrated by Marlowe Bandem.

The launching of the DENPASAR2017 Art & Design Map spotlighted the first map to highlight city features such as museums and galleries, government and cultural institutions, art and design educational institutions, art and creative communities, artists’ studios, cultural heritage/public spaces/monuments, and the markets within the Denpasar area. The map is endorsed by the Bali Tourism Board, Badan KREATIF Denpasar, and the Denpasar Tourism Promotion Board.

Image by Susanto Sidhi VhisatyaKangen Denpasar – Susanto Sidhi Vhisatya in the DenPasar2017 Exhibition

The Road to DenPasar2017 began in January through an open call, CCG invited artists and creative communities to respond to “Bahasa Pasar” in small 2 dimensional works. Seventeen participants were selected from creative backgrounds including architects, dancers, fashion, jewelry, and graphic designers, photographers, street artists, and fine artists. As an introduction for the selected artists CCG facilitated a “Melali Ke Pasar” (journey to the market), a one-day event consisting of 2 parts: DenPasar Talk and DenPasar Walk, with invited speakers, cultural experts, Marlowe Bandem and Ayip Budiman. Bandem highlighted the importance of the role of documentation through art and other creative means, which is deeply embedded in Bali’s culture.

Invited artists and art communities in the DenPasar2017 Exhibition were prompted to re-think and give meaning to the city that is relevant in today’s society via the theme of the traditional markets, paying homage to the role of the market in the development of Denpasar city. Some of the highlights of the exhibition are the collaborative installation of photographs and short film highlighting the dynamic street art designs by Swoofone, and the Urban Sketchers Bali panoramic group presentation of watercolors depicting Denpasar market scenes.

20170719_151818                            Cover of the DenPasar2017 Art + Design Map

“The overall response to the DenPasar2017 program has been excellent,” said Suriawati, who co-founded CCG with her partner Jindee Chua. “Yesterday’s (5 August) DesignTalk attracted a diverse audience from many creative backgrounds listening to presentations from creatives each with a unique journeys within the fields of interior, landscape, architecture and furniture design.”

DesignTalk, along with landscape designer Nyoman Miyoga featured Fransiska Prihadi, an architect who spends 20% of her time designing architecture and interiors, and the other 80% organizing the Minikino Film Week, a Bali based international annual short film festival, Charlie Hearn, who came to Bali from London on an intuitive urge after the 2008 economic crisis and founded Inspiral Architects. His team now designs resorts, private residences, yoga spaces, and other exciting projects. And furniture designer Eva Natasa started out making a personal array of furniture for her home two years ago, in 2016 her collection ‘Lula’ was exhibited in Italy at Milan Salone Del Mobile.

20170723_091217                       Dadian Ratu – Dian Suri in the DenPasar2017 Exhibition

“Personally I feel these creatives are able to lead their DesignLife journey’s successfully in Bali. Bali is unique, open, embracing and nurturing,” Suriawati said. “Bali has international exposure, while at the same time gives space, comfort and has just the right environment to support creativity.”

DenPasar2017 Exhibition continues until 26 August.

CushCush Gallery (CCG)

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

Tel. (62) 361 484558

http://www.cushcushgallery.com

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

Nyoman Gunarsa (1944 – 2017) One of Bali’s Poineering Modernist

335-maestro_lukis_nyoman_gunarsa_meninggal_dunia_dok_youtube-696x341             RIP Nyoman Gunarsa – One of Bali’s pioneering modern artist

With the recent passing of Balinese artist Nyoman Gunarsa on the 10th September 2017 an important chapter of Balinese art comes to a close. His legacy as an artist, art lecturer, art collective leader and museum owner, however, will be long lasting. Born in Klungkung, East Bali in 1944, Gunarsa was the first post war Balinese artist to rise to national prominence. His contribution to the development of Balinese art as one of the pioneering modern expressionist painters was in the exploration of form, rather than the narrative.

Gunarsa’s energetic style of applying paint to canvas with spontaneous, gestural brushstrokes was likened by some to a musical conductor, and he was affectionately known as the maestro. Raised nearby to the village of Kamasan, which during the 16th – 20th centuries was the epicenter of Balinese Classical art, Gunarsa was renowned for his dedication to the art of his forefathers. Academically trained, he quickly matured as a realism painter, yet in the 1980’s his fresh approach to depicting the characters from the Wayang Kulit shadow puppet theater broke new aesthetic grounds in Balinese art.

nyoman gunarsa, 2006 water color on paper. 115x161cm.Barong Dance,Gunarsa’s dynamic paintings emphasized the energy and movement that typified Balinese performance and ceremony.

The foundation of Balinese art is drawing. The strictly governed rules and techniques that characterize the Classical style begin with the sketching of the composition, the drawing of the fine black ink outlines of all visual information, and the coloring in of figures, forms and motifs. Originally these were collective works completed by a group of artists, as a communal offering of gratitude to the Gods. The application of color involved controlled brushstrokes, layered until the desired results are achieved – a brushwork technique akin to drawing, or penciling in the colorful hues.

Gunarsa’s signature style was an adaptation from western art, in which the individual’s innovative ideas, emotions and energy are omnipotent. Freedom and power of expressive, often minimal brushstrokes defined his visual approach. Gunarsa captured a fresh sense of dynamism in his interpretations of iconic scenarios from the Balinese Hindu legends, along with his revolutionary method of capturing traditional ceremony and performance, especially beautiful women dancing. Fusing his cultural knowledge with elements of expressionism and abstract painting immediately set his work apart from that of his contemporaries.

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Colorful, pulsating movement and vitality categorize Balinese ceremony, performance and dance. This has been a source of inspiration for artists over many generations, yet never had a painter captured the seen, and unseen elements of energy, with Gunarsa’s colorful vibrancy. Form along with the decorative elements of Balinese Classical painting took on wonderful new life, and an exciting, newfound match for the unique, real visual spectacle was born.

As an art lecturer at Yogyakarta’s ASRI (Academi Seni Rupa Indonesia) during the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s Gunarsa was a catalyst to great change. He shared his vast knowledge and enthusiasm with a new, young generation of Balinese artists, the first to venture outside of their cultural structures and restraints, to be academically trained in Central Java. These were the formative days of Balinese contemporary art. Via their fresh approach to exploration and expression using new and unusual media they transformed Balinese philosophies, rituals and symbols into an exciting new visual language.

Gunarsa(DK)

Gunarsa helped establish Indonesia’s longest running artist collective, Sanggar Dewata Indonesia, SDI (Workshop of the Gods) in 1970, inviting his Balinese students to form the new association. SDI grew to create a social collective to coordinate artistic activities, exhibitions and organize debates on art outside the institutional teaching framework. It offered its members freedom to collaborate and create without having to fear being labeled as supporters of certain political parties, during a highly politicized era of Indonesian history.

While the influential 1936 – 1945 Pita Maha artists collective redefined Balinese traditional art with modern aesthetics for the burgeoning tourist market, SDI set about redefining from the artist’s perspective based on the search for new ideas, self-expression, and national identity. This new art movement laid the foundations for the future, while inspiring many young artist to study in Yogyakarta, and Balinese contemporary art evolved to reveal its own distinct ‘voice’ in world art, while spawning generations of talented artists.

Sketch in black ink- Gunarsa

During the 1980’s – 1990’s Gunarsa and others such as Wianta, Sika, Djirna and Erawan enjoyed national and international success. Gunarsa opened the Museum of Contemporary Indonesian Painting in Yogyakarta in 1989. His next milestone was in 1994 when the Nyoman Gunarsa Museum of Classical Painting opened next to his residence in Klungkung. In the 3-storey venue he combined his own works with Classical paintings from the 17th – 19th centuries. Dedicated to the preservation of this unique art form Gunarsa acquired scarce works, including ones painted on rare ulantaga bark paper.

Artifacts, stone and woodcarvings, traditional furniture, masks, sculptures and a collection of sacred ceremonial kris add to the historical significance of his museum. In August 2017 the Indonesian President Joko Widodo attended an official reception at the museum in Gunarsa’s honor. As an international, multi award winning artist Gunarsa held solo exhibitions in more than ten foreign countries.

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A landmark celebration of Balinese art was held from July – October 2012 at Gunarsa’s museum, The First International Festival of Classical Balinese Painting. The festival included works from collections of seven other countries, along with the participation of some of the world’s leading foreign authorities on Balinese Classical art. “Classical Balinese paintings have been admired world wide since the European society first became acquainted with the East in the 15th century,” said Gunarsa. “And since then other countries have searched out these masterpieces to enrich their cultural references because of the extraordinary implied messages, philosophies, and counsels about the life of the Balinese.”

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Words: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the SELFIE PROJECT – Kenyut’s artisitic exploration into popular culture

Participant in "I Love Me - the Selfie Project"                              A participant in the Selfie Project

We are living in the era of pop culture selfie mania. Technology and smartphones have democratized visual self expression, with social media and imaging apps allowing us to constantly ‘curate’ our digital presence, enhancing our obsession with our perfect self.

The Century of The Self, the landmark 2002 documentary series by British filmmaker Adam Curtis focuses upon the work of Austrian psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), his daughter Anna, and his American nephew Edward Bernays. Freud was responsible for changing our perception of the mind and its workings.

A devotee of his uncle’s work, Bernays was the first to use psychological techniques in a new field of marketing he labelled Public Relations. He went on to establish a hugely influential PR consultancy in New York City in the 1920’s that was to have an unprecedented impact on western civilization.

Children participate in "I Love Me - the Selfie Project" Image Richard HorstmanChildren participate in the Selfie Project during a workshop on contemporary art by Kenyut at Tepi Sawah Festival, Ubud.

“This series is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy,” Curtis says in his introduction to Episode One. “Bernays showed corporations how they can make people want things they didn’t need by linking mass-produced goods to their inner desires. By satisfying one’s inner selfish desires people became happy and docile. This was the start of the all consuming self, which has come to dominate the world today.”

In recent years the selfie has entered the sphere of social themes for Indonesian contemporary artists. During Jogja Art Weeks (JAW), a month-long plethora of art activities held through the months of May – June, 2017 in Yogyakarta, there were two presentations based on this theme. In Selfie Frame, collective showings by Indonesian and Polish artists, decorated frames were arranged throughout an exhibition space and visitors were invited to pose within them, and then post their selfies onto social media.

Popular young artist Oky Rey Montha, (b.1986, Yogyakarta), exhibited In Frame We Trust, 2017, at ArtJog10. He prompted the audience to engage with his installation by sitting on a toilet and taking a selfie in front of his paintings that parodied the selfie as a ridiculous act. The artists contributed nothing fresh to the critical discourse about this phenomenon, prioritizing fun experiences while appearing to utilize the opportunity simply as an attempt to “cash in”.

I Love Me - the Selfir Project by Djunaidi Kenyut                       I Love Me – the Selfie Project at Laramona, Ubud

East Javanese, Bali based artist Djunaidi Kenyut, however, takes a vastly different approach with his art project, I love Me – the Selfie Project. In his ongoing venture in community engagement beginning early this year, Kenyut randomly seeks out people and asks them to be participants by drawing their image onto a small piece of mirror with a marker pen. The image he later engraves permanently onto the glass.

“People without artistic experience often feel intimidated when I ask them to partake,” Kenyut said. “So I introduce this exercise to them in a fun, non-confrontational way with the theme drawing is easy.” The artist’s goal is to amass 2000 of these individual images and exhibit them in Surabaya, along with presenting a workshop to children at the school he attended in the city, during his childhood.

From 29 April for one month, Kenyut exhibited over 200 of these self-portraits in I Love Me – the Selfie Project, at Laramona, Ubud. Featuring an array of fascinating, often humorous manually recorded images, the exhibition opening was a unique gathering where the project participant’s creations were the focus of interest.

Participant of "I Love Me - the Selfie Project" Image Kenyut                            A participant in the Selfie Project

Kenyut continued his engagement with the public at Tepi Sawah Festival, in Pejeng, Ubud 3-4 June, a new grass-roots community celebration of music, performance and creativity, highlighted by children’s educational programs on topics including environmental awareness and sustainability. He presented a workshop to children introducing the concept of contemporary art making and involving them in the Selfie Project. The group of twenty boys and girls delighted in the opportunity to participate in a communal work by drawing their reflections upon a large mirror.

During his one-on-one interactions, Kenyut learns about the character of the participants. “For some, the task of drawing their reflection is easy, while for others it’s difficult because they are afraid of their self-appearance,” he said. “In the mirror, they tend to see one of two things, and then chose to either imitate their true reflection or create an ideal image of the self. Some people focus on the creative process, while others focus on the results.”

“When people become hesitant I encourage them, and if they are not happy with the result it can be erased, and they can try again,” he said. During this process, Kenyut carefully prompts them to look into the mirror and engage with their reflection, to look beyond the physical, and to love and accept who they are. This helps to stimulate their creative process. “Simulating one’s self-image evokes a sense of self- confidence,” Kenyut said.

Kenyut during his presentation to children of "I Love Me - the Selfie Project" at Tepi Sawah Festival. Image Richard HorstmanKenyut demonstrates the selfie technique to children at Rumah Apik, during the Tepi Sawah Festival.

“I believe selfies to be narcissistic behavior – a desire to love one’s self excessively. The addiction we witness on social media is an empty expression constantly being repeated, reflecting people’s unbalanced psychological state. The selfie addicts look happy, but on the inside, they are not,” Kenyut said.

What effect is this addiction having upon our society? Has the selfie reduced life to a popularity contest, driven by the external myth of beauty and the need to compare ourselves with others, governed by likes, Instagram followers and Facebook friends? The ancient Egyptians understood the relevance of distinguishing and connecting with the self. Within the inner sanctum of the Luxor Temple on the east bank of the Nile River, a proverb states, “Man, know thyself, and you are going to know the gods”.

I Love Me – the Selfie Project encourages people to reflect upon their inner worlds. This, Kenyut believes, is the key to the most powerful door of all. Contemporary artists increasingly play essential roles within the positive development of modern society. They challenge our understanding of ourselves and help others to see things differently and to learn about the world. Importantly, they shine light on issues that need to be individually and collectively addressed for the sake of a sustainable, more peaceful and loving world.

The Exhibition "I Love Me - the Selfie Project" at Laramona, Ubud. Image Merio Falindra            the Selfie Project at Laramona, Ubud – Image Merio Falindra

https://www.facebook.com/djunaidi.kenyut

Words & Images: Richard Horstman & Merio Falindra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infusing iconography from two worlds “Italian-Indonesian Artist” Filippo Sciascia

"Expat Boat" Filippo Scia scia, Size 280 x 190 cm Oil And Gesso On Canvas 2013. image courtsey of the Artist.                             Expat Boat, 2013 – Filippo Sciascia

Italian contemporary artist Filippo Sciascia’s relationship with Asia and Indonesia began back in 1998, however, says the artist, he has only truly “come of age as an Italian-Indonesian artist” in 2013 when he successfully fused iconography from the two worlds into a single creation of art.

“I realize now my works have become more sincere,” says Filippo. “They reveal where I have come from, and where I am now. I can never feel completely comfortable, however, and my works are never perfect. An overwhelming force continually urges me on to strive for more. Intuitively I leave my works open, open to my creative development, and open to the future.”

Filippo Sciascia 'Crown Size" 145 x 130 cm Oil And Gesso On Canvas 2014. Image courtsey of the artist.                           Crown Size, 2014 – Filippo Sciascia

Filippo’s association with Bali began via a collaborative design project of the Gaya Fusion Gallery in Sayan, Ubud in 1998. He exhibited regularly and curated events at Gaya while becoming a key part of its artistic direction helping distinguish Gaya as one of the leading avant-garde galleries in Indonesia. From then on he worked on art projects both locally and internationally, across S. E Asia, China, in New York City and in Italy.

“I am a lover of philosophy and psychology and these sciences are the driving energy behind my art,” says the artist. “My paintings involve research into both archaeological and anthropological subjects and experimentation with media in my eternal journey to reveal authentic creations themed upon human evolution.”

"Lumina Mense" Filippo Sciascia, Size 205 x 165 cm Mixed Media 2012. Image courtsey of the Artist                                 Lumina Mense, 2012 – Filippo Sciascia

Filippo admits to having a growing relationship with Asia since he was a child, now aged 48, his artistic voyage has taken shape while oscillating between three extremely diverse worlds; Sicily, Bali and N.Y.C.

Working within the mediums of painting, sculpture and installations, and video art, Filippo’s passion for photography has greatly impacted upon his work. During the past decade he has explored the use of various mediums along with oil paint to create highly textured surfaces which have become a unique and characteristic feature of his paintings.

Often combining monochromatic photographic images layered upon the canvas’ surface, to which he applies layers of medium, fractured lines and textures appear akin to arid landscapes in states of decay, emphasizing a essential fundamental of his works. ”My works always appear unfinished accentuating that all matter is in a continual, never- ending process of change.”

Mendut Size 205 x 165 cm Oil And Bamboo Mounted On Wood 2014                              Mendut, 2014 – Filippo Sciascia

Mysterious elements within Filippo’s paintings often mesmerize the observer, while at the same time having the uncanny ability to subdue the mind into sense of longing. The tension of heavy tonal aesthetics juxtaposed against white or soft colors, for example, emphasize duality along with the aura and majestic essence of light. “We perceive all life through light,” he says. “Therefore it is a vital conceptual and visual feature of my work as light is the quintessential source of universal inter dimensional intelligence from which springs forth all life.”

Born in 1972 in Palma Di Montechiaro, Italy, in 1983 Filippo moved to New York and in 1985 to Trieste, Italy where he attended the Institute Art of Nordio, followed by studying at the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze, Florence. Acutely aware of modern cultures’ obsession with the image, Filippo’s works are a pictorial meeting ground, highlighting the relationship, while blurring the line between the disciplines of photography and digital imaging technology. Consequently, the results challenge the conventional practice of painting.

Trinacria Size 250 x 200 cm Oil And Gesso And Shells On Canvas 2014                             Trinacria, 2014 – Filippo Sciascia

Religious symbols, historical cultural icons, figurative forms, vehicles of mass trans migration and other worldly imagery fuse with abstract elements in compositions void of literal meaning that are rich in allegory and metaphors, and designed to question our notions of reality.

“Its not my vision anymore, I don’t have a desire to make paintings. Rather, I see my work as a collection of notes akin to diaries about my quest for the greater meaning of life.”

Filippo Sciascia, image by Richard Horstman                             Filippo Sciascia, 2014, Ubud

 

 

Filippo Sciascia, Lumina Chlorophylliana, 2016                     Lumina Chorophylliana, 2016 – Filippo Sciascia

BEN_0165-1Rosetta, 2016 – Filippo Sciascia. Exhibited at OFCA International, Yogyakarta

Rosetta, 2016, Exhibited at OFCA International, Yogyakarta                             Rosetta, 2016 at OFCA International

Lumina Araidica No 2, 2016

                        Lumina Araidica, 2016 – Filippo Sciascia

http://www.filipposciascia.com

 

Words by: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JAW (Jogja Art Weeks) – Indonesia’s evolving art infrastructure

"Bebas Dalam Keterbatasan" (free within limitations) 2017, Photography on Acrylic. Nofria Doni Fitri. Bakaba, Sakato Art Community, Jogja Gallery Image R Horstman“Bebas Dalam Keterbatasan” (free within limitations) 2017, Photography on Acrylic – Nofria Doni Fitri. Bakaba by Sakato Art Community, Jogja Gallery, during JAW

Indonesia is the biggest and most dynamic art market in the Asian region next to China, and the largest art producer of Southeast Asia. Increasingly gaining international attention via the mechanisms of global art, each year more-and-more foreigners venture to Central Java seeking out engagement with the many talented and diverse artists, and art communities in the area.

Jogja Art Weeks (JAW) is a month-long plethora of activities held May/June throughout Yogyakarta’s Special Regency, and north into Magelang. Organized by Heri Pemad Art Management (HPAM), founders of ART|JOG, since its conceptualization four years ago JAW has quickly evolved, this year’s program showcased 140 plus events.

“In the beginning many artists working in Yogyakarta needed presentation space. Both the infrastructure along with events were lacking. While ART|JOG quickly became popular, its capacity was inadequate to cater for the demand,” said Yogyakarta art visionary Heri Pemad. “So we invited galleries, art spaces, cultural and educational institutions, collectives and alternative spaces to create events at the same time as ART|JOG, aiming to accommodate as many artists as possible. The goal in mind, to create a unique cultural festival.”

"Wear You All Night" 2016, Sarah Choo Ching. "Supernatural" at Gajah Gallery. Image Richard Horstman“Wear You All Night” 2016 – Sarah Choo Ching. “Supernatural” at Gajah Gallery.

In 2015 the first JAW event featured a smattering of events in a number of galleries and areas around Yogyakarta. 2016 and this year though, included the new and comprehensive JAW Guide Book. “Last year’s publication registered about 60 events, in 2017 however, listings tallied 147, and continued to grow on JAW’s website & social media,” Pemad said.

The 2017 JAW Guide Book, a free 207-page index brought added stimulus to traverse the far corners of the regency, while opening the big city up to visitors. Most of the activity was found in the South West in Bantul. Listings included exhibitions, performances, music events, film screenings, cultural festivals, tours, and a diverse array of workshops including photography, ceramic painting, collage, batik with electric canting tools, Japanese Shibori tie dye techniques and installation making. This year’s publication also catalogued 40 different museums in the region.

"Shadow Dance" #18, 2017, 200 x 400 cm. Nyoman Erawan. "Linkage" OHD Museum. Image R. Horstman“Shadow Dance” #18, 2017, 200 x 400 cm – Nyoman Erawan. “Linkage” OHD Museum, Magelleng

As the main draw card of JAW, this year celebrating its tenth edition with ART|JOG|10 Changing Perspective, every year additional foreigners and art industry insiders experience Indonesia’s oldest art fair, with it’s unique model that supports artists over galleries. This extraordinary grassroots event evolves each year, its new venue, the Jogja National Museum (JNM) practically, and historically a precise match with the event. The JAW Guide Book functioned perfectly as a hands-on information source, and while professionally organized art tourism is in its infancy in the country, the Guide Book is a bonus to the sustainability of the local art eco-system. Such supporting infrastructure aids the development of art tourism in Yogyakarta, which inevitably becomes a model for other parts of the Indonesia.

“Initially we believed that the popular idea of city branding during ART|JOG and JAW was the responsibility of the government as the increased tourism helps drive the local and wider economies,” Pemad said. “HPAM requested financial support for the making of the guide-book, and finally this year the Yogyakarta Cultural Office agreed to help sponsor its implementation.”

20170518_111858            Made Mahendra Mangku “The Gift” at Sangkring Art Space

One of the JAW highlights involved the hour and a half journey to Magelleng for the annual opening at the OHD Museum. Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the museum founded by the leading patron of Indonesian art, Dr Ooi Hong Djien, Linkage celebrated 51 Indonesia artists who had been a part of the museum’s collection for over two decades. Twenty-four artists were invited to create new works that were presented alongside their older works. This exhibition of outstanding quality attracted many international visitors, works by Ivan Sagita, Nyoman Erawan, Handiwirman Saputra, along with others underlining the uniqueness of the OHD collection.

Amok Tanah Jawa was an exhibition of paintings and installations by East Javanese artist Moelyono, known for his interactions with traditional artists highlighting subversive narratives, in collaboration with Yusuf Muntaha. Featured were paintings of excellent technical precision, along with in-depth investigation of East Javanese performance art at Lenggeng Art Foundation. Wood, leaves, rattan and mending (Chinese water chestnut) were the medium of historical, educational and environmental exploration by Nindityo Adipurnomo, Adek Dimas Ajisak, Maharani Mancanagara and Zulfian Amrullah in Meraka-reka at Galerie Lorong.

"Pengantin Revolusi" 2017 Moelyono. "Amok Tanah Jawa" Langgeng Art Foundation Image R Horstman“Pengantin Revolusi”, 2017 – Moelyono “Amok Tanah Jawa” Langgeng Art Foundation

Nancy Nan’s Red Base Art Foundation has quickly established its presence in Indonesia, it highlighted photography with two separate exhibitions, Processione Dei Misteri by Anastasia Darsono and RAW by foreigner Vanessa Van Houten.   West Sumatran Sakato Art Community presented their 6th annual exhibition Bakaba. Themed IndONEsia, and at the Jogja Gallery, well-known members exhibited with their counterparts. Open for one month, exploring ideas of what it means to be an Indonesian artist, this was one of the strongest collective showings during JAW. Works by Gusman Heraldi, Jumaldi Alfi and Erizal were noteworthy, while artists such as Dwita Anja Asmara, Fika Ria Santika, Zulfirman Syah, Tariq Muntaha reveal enormous talent within Sakato.

Balinese artist and long-term Yogyakarta resident Putu Sutawijaya and his Malaysian wife Jenny have created an important community complex Sangkring which presented 3 separate exhibitions. Following on from last year’s Jogja International Miniptint Biennale #2, Jogja Editions Print Fair displayed selected graphic works, both conventional and contemporary from Indonesian and international artists at the Sangkring Art Project. The Gift celebrated the tenth anniversary of Sangkring Art Space and featured a selection of some of the Indonesia’s finest, including eleven Balinese artists. Included were Nasirun, Ugo Untoro, Sutjipto Adi, Made Djirna, Mangu Putra and Yunizar. Bale Banjar, the latest addition to Sangkring, featured BergerakYogya Art Annual #2 a strong and diverse showcasing of over 40 local artists.

Agung Prabowo - Seven colors linocut print on washi paper, 2017. Jogja Editions Print Fair, Sangkring Art Project. Image R. HorstmanAgung Prabowo – Seven colors linocut print on washi paper, 2017. Jogja Editions Print Fair, Sangkring Art Project

Gajah Gallery is renowned for presenting not only Indonesian, yet regional contemporary art into Asia, and beyond. Taking advantage of the captive international and local audience Gajah surveyed some of Singapore’s best in the group exhibition Supernatural, at their Yogyakarta complex. Presenting a level of quality that set it apart, it featured 18 Singaporean artists exploring ways in which their practices meditate with the perceptions of nature, reality and belief systems. Incredible depth, including Sarah Choo Jing, Zen Teh, Ruben Pang, to name a few, while Ng Joon Kiat’s Untitled Cities 3, 2016 his 3-dimensional abstract composition inspired by his fascination with maps and Asia’s vastly changing terrains and territories, is a masterwork.

As a university city, Yogyakarta attracts the youthful, energetic talent of ethnic groups from all over the country. The depth of this is cultural diversity translated into enormous array of creative expressions and the long list of musical events and performances during JAW was world-class, along with being a HPAM organizational feat. JNM hosted daily ART|JOG music and performance events, while many others within the JAW program were hosted around the city. Special mention goes to Satan Jawa, the silent black and white movie directed by Garin Nugroho, with live gamelan orchestra and music composed by Rahayu Supanggah. On a closing note was the charity tribute group exhibition at the Tanah Liat Museum for the iconic Yogyakarta artist S Teddy Darmawan (1976-2016), who passed away last year after a long battle with cancer.

20170519_184023               Ruben Pang from the exhibition “Supernatural” at Gajah Gallery

The development of Indonesian art has suffered greatly due to the lack of institutional and government support, along with local galleries without strong international business models.

Infrastructure like JAW, and especially ART|JOG which has now become the ‘voice’ of Indonesian contemporary art, defining its unique character, helps consolidate Yogyakarta onto the global art map. First time visitors are guaranteed many wonderful surprises! JAW is a boon for the region, and a repeat destination for collectors and art lovers.

20170520_094728 PemangkasanHandiwirman Saputra – Bakaba #6 Sakato Art Community, Jogja National Gallery

Ali Umar by Ali Umar, 400 pen sketches on paper & sculptures 1997-2017 during JAWAli Umar by Ali Umar, 400 pen sketches on paper & sculptures, 1997-2017, during JAW

"Above, 2016 - Willy Halaman, Banjar Bale during JAW  Above, 2016 – Willy Halaman,  Bergerak – Yogya Art Annual #2, Bale Banjar, during JAW

20170519_184112Untitled Cities 3, 2016 – Ng Joon Kiat, in the exhibhtion Supernatural at Gajah Gallery

 

www.jogjaartweeks.com

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

The Cosmic Worlds of Visionary Balinese Artist Putu Wirantawan

Putu Wirantawan 2016

 

Rarely in Bali does the observer have the opportunity to experience art of such a unique and “other worldly” quality as created Balinese contemporary artist Putu Wirantawan. The fundamental key to Balinese traditional art is drawing, for Wirantawan, however, it serves a different function to that of his artistic forefathers.

About 15 years ago Wirantawan (b.1972 Negara, Jembrana, West Bali) became overwhelmed by what he perceived as a block in his artistic development. Yet, unbeknown to him at the time, he was in the formative stages of creative innovation. Having learned to draw and paint in his youth, actively exhibiting since 1993, and a graduate in Fine Arts from the ISI Yogyakarta 2005, (Indonesian Art Institute), Wirantawan had already become competent in the mediums of oil and acrylic paint, along with water-color to produce figurative and abstract works. Wirantawan, however, had become bored with these genres and wished to break free.

                                         Soulscape II, 2010 – Putu Wirantawan

His solution was to return to the basics of drawing. Wirantawan followed his intuitive urges and focused on spontaneous ideas that evolved into unexplainable sketches. He completed page after page in his sketch pad until eventually the idea blossomed, why not piece together some of these works into larger compositions.

Wirantawan’s process is determined by the flow of imaginative energy between his conscious and subconscious minds. The freedom and flexibility within his technique allows him to arrive at authentic compositions that he believes would be impossible to initially conceive – a powerful creative element had returned to his art along with seemingly endless possibilities to explore.

Working in pencil and ballpoint pen on paper, enhanced with a touch of color Wirantawan draws on the fundamentals of surrealism and abstract art.  “Many of my ideas come from the simplest of objects or from observations of the atmospheric, such as the elements of sunlight, fire, water and smoke,” says Wirantawan. “The elements contain a magic that ignites my imagination and I then transform the shapes I see into something new.”

             Tebaran Energi Sejati, 2008-2012, 9 panels, 2915 x 1260 cm – Putu Wirantawan

“Drawing is a flexible and spontaneous technic, it can be done wherever and whenever, and is not affected by the material drying quickly or still being wet. Drawing nurtures new spirit that enables me to feel free to explore my flowing ideas,” Wirantawan said. “Drawing is soul therapy for the mental burdens resulting from challenges in daily life.”

Often described as a visionary Balinese artist, Wirantawan’s works invite the observer into an abstract world of geometric structures that appear like futuristic cities, galactic landscapes and vast sanctums in the outer most reaches of the cosmos. While his work is truly contemporary and free of traditional Balinese aesthetics and the orthodox approach, there is a deep relationship to the Balinese Hindu philosophical universal view.

Initially, Wirantawan’s works appear almost cryptic and strange, yet they mysteriously radiate a warmth with an unexplainable fascination to the eye. The core structural content of his work is based on the principles of sacred geometry, in which arrangements of lines within harmonic proportions produce systems and symbols that resonate with the subconscious mind.

                                Gugusan Citra Batin, 1236011, 2011 – Putu Wirantawan

Wirantawan often utilizes the circle, which is nature’s perfect symbol, appearing like floating disks, planets and glowing orbs with auras radiating light. “Geometry is the essence and structure of all natural shapes on earth and in the solar system.   All cycles of life and natural phenomena follow a repetitive circular order of birth, death and then rebirth,” he said.

The geometrical symbols Wirantawan uses are governed by a mathematical ratio known as the Golden Ratio, first devised by the ancient Greek mathematicians defining an invisible order that regulates the 3 dimensional proportions of the earth plane. These harmonic proportions were used in the design of sacred buildings in ancient and renaissance architecture to produce a spiritual energy that is believed to facilitate connectivity with a higher universal intelligence.

The coloration of Wirantawan’s works contains the most basic of all visual dualities – black and its interrelationship with the color white. The impact of color psychology, the advancing nature of the white upon black creates dramatic depth of field. Some imagery simply morphs from light to dark and flows in and out of discernible surrealistic forms.

Wirantawan has won a series of awards and honors, including nomination as one of the 10 best Indonesian artists in 2000 Philip Morris Art Awards, as well as being a finalist in the International Triennial “Print and Drawing” in Bangkok, Thailand 2008 and again in 2012.

Blissful Line, Wirantawan’s 2015 solo exhibition at the Tony Raka Art Gallery in Ubud, featured hundreds of his sketches on papers covering the gallery’s walls, the focal point of attraction, however, was his extraordinary, and new venture into installation. Gugusan Energi Alam Batin (the Configuration of the Natural Energy of the Soul), 606 x 246 x 312 cm.  Within the context of contemporary Balinese art Wirantawan has developed a dynamic individual style, both beautiful and compelling, that clearly stands alone.

IMGP9421                           Gugusan Energi Alam Batin – Putu Wirantawan

IMGP9400                             Sketches by Putu Wirantawan

IMGP9397

Words & Images: Richard Horstman