Category Archives: Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

Gede Gunada: exciting artistic talent from east Bali

20190925_150544                                  2017 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

Balinese contemporary artist Gede Gunada first came to my attention in 2012. He was among a group of four other local artists who participated in the Artists Camp in the Top End of Northern Territory (NT) of Australia during in the same year. The project’s mission was to expose the Balinese artists to the raw and diverse landscape along with the art and culture of the aboriginal people.

Gunada’s depictions of the NT terrain are characterized by his rapid brush stroke in an expressionistic style revealed the distinct earthy qualities of the lands. His five-week experience was varied and at times confronting, being exposed to the extremes of the desert environment. “I was not only fascinated by the changing landscapes, yet was mesmerized by the ancient Australian aboriginal rock paintings,” Gunada said. “I would silently sit for hours, attempting to absorb the mysterious, invisible essence of the works.

20190925_190941                                      2019 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

Recently, however, through the convenience of social media – Instagram – his works once again caught my eye, especially his figurative compositions. Defined by simple colour schemes on white paper – Chinese ink with coffee washes, and at times a touch of pastel to add a vibrant sense of colour contrast. Strong black lines describe the structure of his subjects, and then random dabs of light brown coffee wash and ink complete the work. Unhindered by the need to create details in the composition, fascinating abstract elements prevail, that include the white background, become defining features of Gunada’s works.

“The experience leading me to use coffee as a painting medium occurred purely by mistake,” Gunada said with a smile upon his face. “I spilt some coffee upon a work, then marvelled at the strength of the colour and the aesthetic impact it made. I then decided I had to experiment some more.” One of the highlights of these works is their sense of immediacy. Works on medium-sized pieces of paper he completes within 10 – 15 minutes.

20190925_150757                                  2019 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

His portraits, often of beautiful young women, school children, or friends are produced quickly, reflecting an artist who is grounded in self-confidence. They capture the strong individual characteristics of his subjects, both the physical and the invisible essence that shines from within.

Living in the village of Ababi, near the Tirtagangga water palace, half an hour from the city of Alamapura, the capital of the Karangasem, East Bali regency, Gunada’s family compound in is surrounded by bamboo forests in the foothills. Being removed from the art communities of Denpasar and Ubud, these days Gunada rarely exhibits at the popular art venues, and except for exposure through Instagram, he remains somewhat obscure.

20190925_150830                               2016 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

Born in 1979 Gunada received his art education at SMSR junior high school in Denpasar from 1993 – 1997. After which he was mostly self-taught while also learning from two of Bali’s most well-known and respected senior contemporary artists – Made Budhiana and Nyoman Suakri (1968 – 2010). “Sukari didn’t like to talk much; only he would encourage me to be dedicated and work hard. Budhiana emphasized that I must also work hard to discover my own personal artistic ‘voice’,” Gunada said.

From a young age, Gunada was inspired to create drawings, random shapes and forms scribing images into the dirt with a stick in the yard of his family house. “While at junior school I developed a love for painting the figures of the wayang kulit shadow puppet theatre,” the artist said. “This then developed into a passion for the wayang theatre. A puppet master or dalang lived nearby, so I often spent hours watching him make the puppets, practice, even helping during performances. I would sit next to him and hand him the puppets on cue.”

20190925_150438                                     2016 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

The stunning mountainous and oceanside landscapes of his region are often the subject matter for his works, along with the iconic architectural features from an old Balinese kingdom. This kingdom was once a mighty empire reaching west into Buleleng, and as far east as the island of Lombok. The King Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem (1887-1966), who was a master of Balinese dancer and an excellent woodcarver, built in the area two large water palaces; Ujung Water Palace by the ocean in Ujung constructed in 1926 and Tirta Gangga created in 1957. Dynamic brush stroke and abstract elements again characterize Gunada’s depictions of the landscape and the architectural sites. In some of his works, he strips the physical aspects of the scenario down to their essential core, then brings the composition to life using his bold and electrifying palette.

“I like to balance my creativity by working in the field with friends, and also at home alone in my studio,” Gunada says. “I love to paint quickly; it reflects my passionate, emotional state of well being.”

20190925_150513                               2019 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

20190925_150627                            Early composition by Gede Gunada

 

20190925_190825                                   2019 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

20190925_191017                                    2019 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

 

To see more of Gede Gunada’s work go to: Instagram @ggunada

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previewing Larasati’s Upcoming 12 October 2019 Bali Sale

Lot # 791 "Bayu Satu Duta" Tjokorda Oka Gambir (1902 - 1975 Peliatan) Natural pigments on cloth, 162.5 x 150 cm. Image courtesy of Larasati AuctioneersLot # 791 ‘Bayu Satu Duta’ – Tjokorda Oka Gambir (1902 – 1975 Peliatan) Natural pigments on cloth, 162.5 x 150 cm

 

For the first time in its thirteen-year history, Larasati Auctioneers will conduct their third art auction in Ubud within the year. This is a positive sign indicating a growing market for Balinese art. “After being stagnant for some time, the market for Balinese art is beginning to show real signs of buoyancy. As a result, we have managed to secure a couple of significant properties from various art collectors. By holding this additional sale in Bali, we hope to amplify the current upward thrust for Balinese art,” said Daniel Komala, CEO of Larasati Auctioneers.

Ninety-two lots of fine art, works by renowned Balinese and foreign artists, including some of the masters of the historical Ubud School of Painting, will go under the hammer in the Modern, Traditional and Contemporary Art Auction 12 October from 2:30 pm, at the Larasati Art Space, Tebesaya Gallery, Ubud.

Lot #792 "Pandawa dalam Pengasian" Ida Bagus Rai (1933 - 2007 Padang Tegal, Ubud) Acrylic on Canvas, 165 x 110 cm. Image Courtesy of Larasati AuctioneersLot #792 ‘Pandawa dalam Pengasian’  – Ida Bagus Rai (1933 – 2007 Padang Tegal, Ubud) Acrylic on Canvas, 165 x 110 cm

 

Some of the art genres for sale include Balinese contemporary paintings, modern Indonesian paintings, works from the Batuan School of Painting, the colourful Young Artist style, photographs and one woodcarving. Larasati has secured works from prominent private collectors, one group of paintings will capture the attention of connoisseurs of Balinese art. The Ubud sale has artworks that will interest beginners buying for the first time, with limited budgets, intermediate collectors and the aficionados. There are groupings of paintings offered inspired by the influential foreigners on Bali, Walter Spies (1895 – 1942) Rudolf Bonnet (1895 – 1978) and Arie Smit (1916 – 2016).

German amateur photographer Gregor Krauser (1883-1960), a physician and anthropologist released the groundbreaking book Bali to European audiences in 1920. His photographs had a massive impact upon intellectuals disillusioned by the direction of western culture post WWI. Lot 715 & 716, both titled Bali Nude 1920, by Krauser, sized 17 x 25 cm and printed on sheetfed gravure have estimated prices of between Rp 2 – 3 million which offer excellent opportunities for buyers wishing to enter the market.

Lot 720 "Iringan Melasti" Made Sukadana. Image coutesy of Larasati AuctioneersLot # 720 ‘Iringan Melasti’  – Made Sukadana, Acrylic on Canvas 120 x 120 cm

 

Other works that offer good value if purchased within, or under their estimated prices for beginners are Lot 702 Lotus Pond a watercolour on paper by Paul Nagano, a long-time visitor to Bali, with an estimated price of between Rp. 5 – 7 million. Two works in the Young Artist style, Lot 768 Upacara Ngaben by Wayan Pugur which has an estimated worth of between Rp. 7 – 9million, Lot 772, by Nyoman Takja, Kehidupan Bali has an estimated price of between Rp. 5 – 7 million, and Lot 749, Bali Life by Ketut Kicen which comes an estimated price of between Rp. 6 – 11 million.

Good purchases for intermediate buyers wishing to grow their collection and with larger budgets include Lot 739, Jemur Pakian by Dewa Putu Mokoh (1934 – 2010) with an estimated value of between Rp. 15 – 17 million, a rare woodcarving by Wayan Gerudug (1905 – 1989), Lot 743 Ni Kesuna di Hutan (Dari cerita Ni Bawang dan Ni Kesuna) which comes with an estimated price of between Rp. 20 – 30 million, a distinct composition of glowing red sunset hues, Nelayan di Pantai, Lot 747 by Made Rasna which has an estimated price of between Rp. 20 – 30 million and Lot 767 Pura Dewi Sri by the founder of the Young Artists style Arie Smit, that comes with an estimated price of between Rp. 30 – 40 million.

Lot # 717 "Suasana Pasar" Wayan Djudjul (1942 - 2008 Ubud) Acrylic on Canvas, 85 x 55cm. Image Courtesy of Larasati Auctioneers.Lot # 717 ‘Suasana Pasar’ –  Wayan Djudjul (1942 – 2008 Ubud) Acrylic on Canvas, 85 x 55cm

 

The recent passing of Batuan painter Ketut Murtika (1952-2019) brings to the close the life and career of an extraordinary talent of the Batuan miniature format of painting and his two mythological themed works offer excellent buying for intermediate collectors. Lot 785 Perang Tanding Arjuna Melawan Kama has an estimated price of between Rp.15 – 18 million, and Lot 786 Ramayana Scene comes with an estimated value of between Rp.18 – 22 million.

Connoisseurs will be interested on the following Lot 791 Bayu Satu Duta by Tjokorda Oka Gambira (1902-1975) who was the senior teacher from the sangging (collective of skilled artists who made sacred traditional artworks and objects) of the Peliatan royal palace. The wayang style painting has an estimated value of between Rp. 48 – 58 million, and offers a rare opportunity to collect a picture by the influential princely artist.

Lot # 739 "Berjamur Pakian" 2001 Dewa Putu Mokoh (1934 - 2010 Pengosekan) Acrylic on Canvas, 80 x 60 cm. Image Courtesy of Larasati AuctioneersLot # 739 ‘Berjamur Pakian’ – 2001 Dewa Putu Mokoh (1934 – 2010 Pengosekan) Acrylic on Canvas, 80 x 60 cm

 

Ketut Budiana (b. 1959 Padang Tegal, Ubud) is recognized as one of the maestros of Balinese painting; the multi-talented creative is responsible for inventing his signature style within the conventions of the Ubud School of Painting. His visual language depicts the universe consistently in a state of transition featuring an array of characters from the divine to the demonic. Lot 784 Mythical Scene has an estimated price of between Rp. 80 – 110 million.

Two rare and delightful paintings are Lot 720 Iringan Melasti by Made Sukadana (1962-2004) that comes with an estimated price of between Rp. 55 – 65 million, and the beautiful colour composition of a mythological scene, Lot 792 Pandawa Dalam Pengasingan by Ida Bagus Rai (1933-2007 Ubud) that has an estimated value of between Rp. 25 – 35 million.

Lot # 782 "Mendirikan Menara Bade" 1983 Anak Agung Gede Raka Pudja (1932 - 2016, Padang Tegal, Ubud), Acrylic on Canvas, 114 - 79 cm. Image Courtesy of Larasati AuctioneersLot # 782 ‘Mendirikan Menara Bade’ 1983 –  Anak Agung Gede Raka Pudja (1932 – 2016, Padang Tegal, Ubud), Acrylic on Canvas, 114 – 79 cm

 

Four paintings on offer by Anak Agung Gede Raka Pudja (1932 – 2016 Padang Tegal, Ubud) from the Ubud School of Painting will also attract the attention of the connoisseurs. Lot 782 Mendirikan Menara Bade 1983, a detailed and visually potent description of the erection of Balinese traditional cremation tower comes with an estimated price of between Rp.150 – 200 million, and Lot 783 Melasti ke Sakenan,  a dynamic composition depicting an ocean side religious procession comes with an estimated value of between Rp. 90 – 120 million. Lot 780 & 781 paintings of subdued colour schemes both have estimated prices of between Rp. 50 – 70 million. Lot 776, Cerita dari Hutan highlights the technical abilities of Nyoman Kayun (b. 1954 Peliatan) and has an estimated price of between Rp. 50 – 70 million.

Other well known artists in the sale include Willem Gerard Hofker (1902 – 1981), Ida Bagus Nadera (1915 – 1998), Ketut Regig (1919 – 2002), Ketut Gelgel, Awiki, Dullah (1919 – 1996 and Soedibio (1912 – 1981).

Lot 786 "Ramayana Scene" Ketut Murtika. Image courtesy of Larasati AuctioneersLot # 786 ‘Ramayana Scene’ –  Ketut Murtika, Acrylic on Canvas, 60 x 80 cm

 

Potential buyers bidding over the phone, absentee bidders or real-time Internet bidders who are unable to attend the previews days or auction are advised to contact Larasati and enquire about the colour reproduction accuracy of the images contained within the online catalogue to ensure that what they wish to purchase can be realistically appraised. The absence of reference to the condition of a lot in the catalogue description does not imply that the lot is free from faults or imperfections, therefore condition reports of the works, outlining the paintings current state and whether it has repairs or over painting, are available upon request.

Provenance, the historical data of the works previous owner/s is also important and is provided. An information guide including before the auction, during the auction and after the auction details, including conditions of business, the bidding process, payment, storage and insurance, and shipping of the work is also available. A buyer’s premium is payable by the buyer of each lot at rate of 22% of the hammer price of the lot.

Lot 784 "Mythical Scene" Ketut Budiana. Image coutesy of Larasati Auctioneers    Lot # 784 ‘Mythical Scene’ –  Ketut Budiana, Acrylic on Canvas, 50 x 80 cm

 

Open to the public at the Larasati Art Space in the Tebesaya Gallery the auction starts at 2:30 pm Saturday 12 October, while viewing begins from 11am Thursday. The online catalogue, complete with a guide for prospective buyers is available at: www.larasati.com

 

Viewing:

Thursday         10 October   11am – 7.30pm

Friday              11 October     11am – 7.30pm

Saturday         12 October     11am – 1pm

 

Auction: Saturday 12 October, from 2:30 pm

 

Larasati Bali Art Space at Tebesaya Gallery

Jalan Jatayu, Banjar Tebesaya, Peliatan,

Ubud, Gianyar Bali, Indonesia

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images Courtesy: Larasati Auctioneers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ART JAKARTA 2019 – evolving into one of the regions most significant art fairs

Japanese artist Takehiko Sugawara "Garyu no Matsu" Image Richard Horstman                   Garyu no Matsu  – Japanese artist Takehiko Sugawara

 

Under wraps, the 11th edition of Art Jakarta, Indonesia’s most significant art fair open from 30 August – 1 September 2019 at JCC (Jakarta Convention Center). And by reports from gallerists, exhibiting artists, attendees and the Fair organization itself, outcomes have exceeded expectations.

Following on from the demise of Art Stage Jakarta in 2017, and Art Stage Singapore in 2018, Art Jakarta has strategically positioned itself, filling the void and consolidating itself as one of Southeast Asia’s most important art fairs. Featuring 70 galleries from 14 countries – Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, USA, Taiwan, Russia, Australia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and China, the fair enjoyed strong sales, with more than 39,000 visitors over the three days.

Art Jakarta fairground view Saturday 31 August. Image courtesy of Art Jakarta Art Jakarta fairground view Saturday 31 August. Image courtesy Art Jakarta

 

From Indonesia, 30 of the country’s established and emerging galleries participated, including Edwin’s Gallery, RUCI Art Space, Lawangwangi, CGartspace, Bale Projects, SAL Projects and ART_UNLTD by BEKRAF, a presentation of 51 emerging and established artists from different backgrounds, initiated by Indonesian Agency for Creative Economy (Badan Ekonomi Kreatif ) and curators Asmujo J. Irianto, Bob Edrian, Irawan Karseno and Totot Indrarto.

Just a few of the international gallery participants were Amy Li Gallery – Beijing, Flowers Gallery – London/New York/Hong Kong, Mizuma Gallery – Tokyo/Singapore/New York, Yavuz Gallery – Singapore and Bluerider ART from Taipei. Thirty per cent of the 70 participating galleries made their debut at Art Jakarta, reflecting the brand’s strong reputation and potential. Auction house Phillips Asia was among the new exhibitors, displaying artworks, watches and jewellery.

"Lumina Clorofilliana", 2019 Filippo Sciascia. Lacqured Photo Aluminium And Led Light. Image coutesy of Yeo Workshop

“Lumina Clorofilliana”, 2019 Filippo Sciascia. Lacquered Photo Aluminium And Led Light. Image courtesy of Yeo Workshop

 

“Due to the uncertain political environment of the past few years there has been a subdued market response to the fair,” stated Edwin Rahardjo, founder of Edwin’s Gallery and the Head of the Indonesian Association of Art Galleries (AGSI). “This year, however, we have had a more stable political and economic climate in Indonesia, which has led to a renewed energy. I could feel that the audience was much more positive and upbeat. The increased activity by young local collectors was noticeable.”

Art Jakarta reported several new buyers acquiring art pieces for the first time as well as renewed interest and purchases from buyers who had been inactive for some time. New international collectors were also spotted at the fair, expanding Art Jakarta’s collector base. Collector’s attending the fair hailed from throughout Southeast Asia and the Asia region, Europe, America and Australia.

"Savage Orchid" 2019 - Nus Salomo. Image richard Horstman                                 Savage Orchid 2019 – Nus Salomo

 

Commenting upon the relocation of Art Jakarta from the Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Pacific Place to the Jakarta Convention Center in Senayan, Rahardjo said, “The JCC has many practical advantages over the previous venue, including being larger. It allows for much easier loading and unloading of artworks, and offers positive tax incentives for international galleries.”

Australian based Indonesian artist Jumaadi works from his Yogyakarta and Sydney studios and was represented at Art Jakarta by Jan Manton Art from Brisbane, Australia. His exhibition of thematic and aesthetically distinct works stood out amongst the competition. Jumaadi’s feedback was also positive, “We have previously participated in Australian and Southeast Asian fairs; however, this is the first experience for both Jan Manton and I at Art Jakarta – and it was amazing. Comparatively speaking this fair is no worse off, or better off than the others. It is very dynamic, and the number of people during the opening was astonishing. The response to my work was strong, and we are very optimistic about the future of Art Jakarta.”

Art Jakarta fair attendees and installation by Filippino artist Ronald Ventura at Yavuz Gallery. Image by Richard HorstmanArt Jakarta fair attendees and installation by Filippino artist Ronald Ventura at Yavuz Gallery

 

“The move from Pacific Place means that the audience is art-focused and not shopping mall visitors looking for alternative entertainment,” said Kemal Ezedine, a regular participant at Art Jakarta, who exhibited paintings with Jakarta’s CGartspace. “I believe that Art Jakarta is now stepping up to the next level.”

Art Jakarta is an essential meeting place,” said Suriawati Qui co-founder of CushCush Gallery in Denpasar. “Such interactions between the national and international art communities open up opportunities for important issues and conversations to be raised, opportunities for artists and galleries to get to know their peers from across the region, and encourages cross-cultural and cross border collaborations.”

Artwork by Balinese contemporary artist Made Valasara. Image Richard Horstman                   Artwork by Balinese contemporary artist Made Valasara

 

“As an international gallery, we have always enjoyed participating in Art Jakarta and connecting with the Indonesian art community,” said Audrey Yeo, owner/producer of Yeo Workshop, Gillman Barracks Singapore. “The fair allows us to market our artists and programs with familiar faces and new networks. With its rejuvenated format and the new venue, there was a general sense of enthusiasm from the audience and the galleries. Art Jakarta is currently very promising as one of the strongest regional fairs. The fair has good organisers with a solid working style.”

“Although small, Art Jakarta was fascinating and featured some good work. One aspect I especially liked was the smaller booths representing art collectives and artist initiatives,” said Ian Findlay-Brown, editor and publisher of Asia Art News based in Hong Kong. As one of the regions first art magazines in the English language, and one of the most knowledgeable writers in the Asia region with over 40 years of experience, Findlay-Brown has witnessed the major changes in the Southeast Asian art scene during the past thirty years.

Indonesian artist Jumaadi represented by Jan Manton Art. Image Richard Horstman             Indonesian artist Jumaadi represented by Jan Manton Art

 

Commenting on “Jakarta Scene” a designated space in the fair for artist collectives and artist initiatives that offered many diverse artworks, art products and objects, along with valuable information about their activities, that are a cornerstone of Indonesia’s dynamic art scene, Findlay-Brown stated, “You don’t often see this aspect of a local art scene represented in an art fair in the Asia region. It reveals an important facet of the vitality of the local art world that can often be missed or overlooked.”

“Their array of art products, clothing, toys and sculptures emphasizes an important fun aspect of the art world. The Fair directors, by inviting these dynamic young individuals and collectives highlight a fundamental and vibrant characteristic of the Indonesian contemporary art world.”

Sculpture by Chinese artist Cai Lei. Image Richard Horstman                               Sculpture by Chinese artist Cai Lei

 

“The strength of the Indonesian art scene has always been its ‘gotong-royong’ or community spirit. This has lent Art Jakarta its special Indonesian identity which translates into a very unique fair experience for our visitors, exhibitors and partners,” said Art Jakarta Fair Director Tom Tandio. “It is only by working together that we can strengthen the art scenes in both Indonesia and Southeast Asia, which will benefit the community as a whole.”

“We were very humbled by the positive response that we received as it is a measure of the confidence that Indonesia and the region’s art community has placed in Art Jakarta, and the changes that we implemented for this 11th edition of the Fair.”

Art Jakarta enjoyed large audiences and strong sales during the fair the that ran 30 August - 1 September. Image coutesy of Art JakartaArt Jakarta enjoyed large audiences and strong sales during the fair the that ran 30 August – 1 September. Image courtesy of Art Jakarta

 

"Iris" by Singaporean artist Melissa Tan exhibited by ISA. Image Richard Horstman                       Iris by Singaporean artist Melissa Tan exhibited by ISA

 

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images courtesy of Richard Horstman unless stated.

Images of Bali fuse with Old Masters paintings to create landmark pictorials

AFTER THE HARVEST small                              After the Harvest, 2019 – Joel Singer

 

“I approach every magical day here in Bali with gratitude and wonder. Gratitude for having the joyful privilege of living on the gorgeous rice fields north of Ubud,” says Canadian avant-garde filmmaker and photographer Joel Singer who first visited Bali in 1979 and has lived here for the past decade.

“I usually awaken with the sunrise and have an early morning walk with my dogs out on the stunning terrain of the Campuhan Ridge,” he continues. “I’m always photographing daily life around me and images continually coalesce in my mind – likely and unlikely juxtapositions.”

Bali Turner small                               Bali Turner, 2019 – Joel Singer

 

“About seven years ago I was struck with a blast of realization while watching the golden evening light on the ripening rice fields,” explains Singer whom since the mid-1980s has experimented with cut and paste photographic collages. (long before the advent of Photoshop, the popular digital image manipulation computer program)

“I was then vividly reminded of some of the “Hudson River School” paintings, (the mid-19th-century American art movement of landscape painters influenced by Romanticism) and later during the rice harvest I was reminded of some of Breugel’s work.” (Pieter Breugel (1525 –1569) was the most significant artist of Flemish Renaissance painting who pioneered large compositions depicting landscapes and peasant scenes).

Bali Caravaggio (or the Feast of the Cockfight) - Joel Singer 2019             Bali Carrivagio (or the Feast of the Cockfight), 2019  – Joel Singer

 

“Then with the magic of Photoshop, I began to work with some of the images of the Old Masters paintings combining them with images of Balinese daily life. It seemed like an inevitable fit and I’ve continued to explore this merging ever since into creations I termed many years ago “PHOTAGES” describing my process of photo – collage – montage.”

Singer’s series “When the Old Masters Visited Bali” pays homage to the master European painters. In “Bali of Gold” multiple images of musicians and dancers are married with an abstract background of swirling energy and colour made famous by the iconic English landscape painter JMW Turner.

Bali Van Gough Revisited, 2018 - Joel Singer                    Bali Van Gogh Revisited, 2018 – Joel Singer

 

While in “Bali Caravaggio (or the Feast of the Cockfight)” he fuses two disparate worlds – gesticulating audience action images from a Balinese cockfight layered upon a composition by Caravaggio where men are sitting at a table engaged in animated discussion prior to a chicken feast. Darkness contrasts with light, emphasizing Balinese Hindu philosophies, and of course the visual technical prowess of the Renaissance maestro. Another composition features the smiling face of Mona Lisa on the surface of a flooded rice field that is reflecting the morning light, her raised finger points to the shining sun. Singer delicately fuses humour with natural beauty creating a heart-warming composition.

Humour again comes to the fore in his pairing of dancers from Matisse’s famous “Dance 1” with the frightening demonic creatures that star in the Balinese Ogoh-ogoh parade, together frolicking hand-in-hand in a circular romp. Other compositions are meetings of the Balinese landscape with rural and cultural activities that are either immediately arresting, or simply gracious and eternally beautiful.

UNDER THE VOLCANO small                        Under the Volcano, 2018 – Joel Singer

 

“When I ‘go to play’ up in my loft in my house overlooking the rice fields I try to surprise myself. To give vision to my dreams and the spirits which inhabit this place. I trust my intuition when approaching a ‘blank canvas’ and now, after 50 years, my ‘editing’ skills learned through filmmaking and skills of the juxtaposition of sometimes unlikely images are more finely honed with every passing year,” he says of his creative process. “I refer to my work as ‘images of elsewhere’. I play with time and sequencing, creating ‘eye music’. There is something about the timelessness of experiencing archetypal rural life, the rhythms of the planting and harvesting seasons suggest a blending of aesthetics.”

Monet Temple copy                                 Monet Temple, 2019 – Joel Singer

 

Born in Montreal, Canada in 1948 aged 12 Singer discovered the fascination of image-making. Later in college, he majored in fine arts and encountered the magic of film and cinema. He then yearned to participate in the great renaissance in avant-garde cinema stirring in the U.S.A. A film history class taught by the poet/filmmaker James Broughton (1913 – 1999) at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1974 then changed his life. During the 70s and 80s Singer showed his avant-garde films around the world while collaborating with his, then life partner Broughton, many of their films were collected by institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the German Filmmuseum in Frankfurt and the Austrian Filmmuseum in Vienna.

TRIPTYCH small signed copy                                     Triptych, 2018 – Joel Singer

 

Singer gives us insights into the natural rhythms of life via his fresh and fantastic windows into the extraordinarily diverse visual and cultural, multi-dimensional worlds of Bali. “I’m not interested in the slightest in ‘reality’, it’s HIGHLY overrated,” Singer states.  “My desire is to make the invisible somehow visible through the magic of creating another ‘separate reality’. Through my work, I hope to bring some beauty into this very troubled world.”

A selection of Singer’s pictures is currently on display at the Tony Raka Art Gallery, in Mas, Ubud.

Mona Lisa and the rising sun. 2019 Joel Singer                           Mona Lisa and the Rising Sun, 2019 – Joel Singer

 

 

 

Words: Richard Horstman

 

 

Posthumous tribute to Balinese artist Sukari a highlight of Jogja Art Weeks

"Dialog" 2005 - Nyoman Sukari, 150 x 250cm, oil on canvas. Image Richard Horstman                                   Dialog, 2000 – Nyoman Sukari

 

Balinese Hindu ritual is a fascinating and potent fundamental of a distinct traditional culture that, through its philosophies seeks to embrace a universal sense of harmony between all people, the environment and the divine. It incorporates a belief system that places equal emphasis on both the physical and non-physical aspects of the world and the dualistic nature of life.

In the compelling finale to the opening ceremony of Trajectory: Posthumous Solo Exhibition of I Nyoman Sukari, 26 July 2019 at Taman Budaya Yogyakarta (TBY), Yogyakarta, a display of ceremonial ritual set a unique and electrifying atmosphere that continued throughout the evening. Ni Nyoman Aryaningsih, the widow of the late and renowned painter, accompanied by a gamelan ensemble and a traditional flute, sang the Bramara Ngisep Sari mantra. In this sacred practice, that included a special dance performance by Aryaningsih and family members, the presentation of offerings and incense, Sukari’s spirit was called to return from the heavens to the earthly plane in order to witness the exhibition.

Audience at TBY during Sukari opening - Image Richard HorstmanThe audience at TBY during the opening of Trajectory: Posthumous Solo Exhibition of I Nyoman Sukari.

 

One hundred and thirty-eight of Sukari’s works, 50 oil paintings, 13 pen drawings on canvas, 29 watercolour and acrylics on paper, 35 pencil sketches on paper and 11 mixed media works on carton from the private collections of Dr Oei Hong Djien, Lin Che Wei, and Aryaningsih went on display at TBY. This monumental and practically designed presentation, which included a timeline of significant data and photos set over 50 meters of wall space, took Sarasvati Art Management three years to organize. It is held in conjunction with Jogja Art Weeks (JAW) – a two-month-long program of exhibitions and events conducted throughout Central Java in support of Indonesia’s leading contemporary art festival ArtJog MMXIX Common Space, open 24 July – 24 August at Jogja National Museum.

Beginning from his school days SMSR (1986-1990) until his final years of creativity in 2009, the collaboration between Sarasvati Art Management, OHD Museum, the Sanggar Dewata Indonesia (SDI) art collective, and Aryaningsih, features works spanning Sukari’s entire, award-winning career. It is set out chronologically from his school years to art college at the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) Yogyakarta, the art collective Spirit ‘90 era, his career peak in 2002 – 2003, his solo exhibition in Gajah Gallery Singapore, and then the final stages of his career in 2008 – 2009.

Nyoman Sukari self portrait in ink on paper circa? Image Richard Horstman                        Self-portrait, ink on paper by Nyoman Sukari

 

Symbolically layered with meaning, and loaded with atmospheric energy, Sukari’s paintings are a meeting point between the sekala and niskala – the physical and non-physical worlds according to the Balinese philosophies. Curated by Suwarno Wisetrotomo and Gede Arya Sucitra, lecturers at ISI Yogyakarta, where Sukari was an outstanding student, Trajectory highlights the three defining creative periods of his career.

“In considering and understanding the creativity and philosophy in Sukari’s paintings it is necessary to know who he was, where he came from, and what his social-cultural environment was. What his cultural experience was, why he painted, and what he painted,” writes Arya Sucitra in the exhibition catalogue. The seventh of nine children, born 6 July 1968 in the remote village of Ngis, Manggis, Karangasem, East Bali, Sukari grew up to become accomplished in traditional music playing gamelan, and the suling flute, as well as dancing, singing. Traditional Balinese wisdom and values were the foundations of how he lived his life within his family, community, and artistic contexts.

Sukari Saat Melukis                       Nyoman Sukari at work in his Yogyakarta studio

 

“Sukari created works that departed from the traditional arts of his forefathers with a ‘new’ technical approach – expressionism, freeing himself from the details, yet still being able to place the mystical atmosphere within his works,” continues Arya Sucitra. “Working in Yogya, where he lived and studied from 1991 – 1995, gave him the opportunity to reread and explore the space between tradition and modernity, between the old and the new, and between those who were close to the niskala.”

A character of many contradictions Sukari had the distinction of having a sold out show at the Spirit ‘90 exhibition at Purna Budaya Yogyakarta when he was a student at ISI Yogyakarta. In a rare artistic journey, at the beginning of his career his works were priced highly, then at the end of his career, due to lack of market popularity, his works were priced low. A visionary and versatile artist, along with being a crucial art provocateur, and art community leader, during the exhibitions of the collective Spirit ‘90 in 1994 & 1995 Sukari’s paintings were partly responsible for the Indonesian art market boom beginning at the campus level. The artist chose to, however, distance himself from the chaos of the boom that continued on until 2000. At times he refused to sell his works to art collectors.

"Orang Gila" 2000 - Nyoman Sukari, 150 x 200 cm, oil on cnvas. Image Richard Horstman                               Orang Gila, 2000 – Nyoman Sukari

 

Highly expressive with dynamic brushstrokes, Sukari’s oil paintings are powerful insights from the darker angels of his psyche. Black and greys, golden browns, touches of white and red to achieve dramatic contrasts, his compositions are often a collision of imagery and non-descript forms. Many of his works feature menacing eyes and faces gazing out from swirling masses of energy. Immediately confronting, these works are not for the faint-hearted.

Sukari’s narratives vary from the cultural, mythological and the surreal, to his reflections upon Indonesia’s social and political upheaval during the finale of President Suharto’s New Order Regime, observations and contemplations about life, mortality, and his spirituality. Just a few of his awards include the 1993 ISI Yogyakarta best painting, the 1994 Affandi Adi Karya Art Award for best painting, and in 2000 the Lempad Prize from Sanggar Dewata Indonesia (SDI).

Exhibition co-curator Gede Arya Sucitra discussing Sukari's pen on canvas compositions - Image Richard HorstmanExhibition cocurator Arya Sucitra during a discussion about the watercolour paintings of Nyoman Sukari

 

While Trajectory’s content is dominated by darker themes Sukari’s ‘lighter’ sensibilities come to the fore within his works on paper in watercolour, ink and acrylics. His sketches and watercolours on paper and canvas have never been publically exhibited. A few small ink compositions feature minimalistic imagery that appears floating upon the white expanses of paper – here we embrace the gentler essence of the painter.

“The final years of Sukari’s career were his most contemplative and philosophical,” states Arya Sucitra. “His Niskala Drawing Series 2008 – 2009, featuring complex compositions in pen on canvas are an important aesthetic landmark emphasizing his spiritual journey while revealing an undeniable pull for him to become a holy man or priest.”

The works feature forms rendered in horizontal and vertical structures that create distinct relationships with the upper and lower supernatural worlds, along with his own magical iconography derived from the sacred rerajahan symbols, and his ideas about his spiritual responsibilities. Perhaps his finest masterpiece is Menunggu Cuaca, 2008, a stark composition depicting a fisherman waiting for fine weather so that he may return to the ocean. In this symbolic reflection upon patience, Sukari’s reveals his intuitive musings about the closing episode of his life.

Pen sketch on paper by Nyoman Sukari, circa 2008-2009. Image Richard Horstman               Pen drawing on paper, circa 2008 – 2009 by Nyoman Sukari

 

Sukari passed away 12 May 2010 in Bali after battling with a two-year illness. He leaves behind an inspiring legacy underlining his commitment to his family, culture, creative life purpose and building community through the power of art. Trajectory: Posthumous Solo Exhibition of I Nyoman Sukari, which continues through 12 August at TBY, honours one of the true, late masters of Balinese art.

"Trunyan Series" 2007 - Nyoman Sukari. Image Richard Horstman                         Truyan Series, 2007 – Nyoman Sukari

 

"Menunggu Cuaca" 2008 - Nyoman Sukari, 145 x 200cm, oil on canvas. Image Richard Horstman                          Menunggu Cuaca, 2008 – Nyoman Sukari

 

Detail of watercolour composition on paper by Nyoman Sukari , circa 2008 - 2009 - Image Richard Horstman        Detail of watercolour composition on paper, 2007 – Nyoman Sukari

 

"Mantan Pemburu" 2009 - Nyoman Sukari, acrylic on canvas. Image Richard Horstman                          Mantan Pemburu, 2009 – Nyoman Sukari

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

Art activist’s discussion in Bali launches landmark entrepreneurial program for the disabled

Art Actiivists Budi Agung Kuswara and Hanna Madness during the launching of "Ayo Ketemu!" in Sanur 29th July - Image courtesy of KETEMU PROJECTArt Activists Budi Agung Kuswara and Hanna Madness during the launching of “Ayo Ketemu!” in Sanur 29th July

 

Art Has Saved My Life a discussion led by two art activists 29 June at Rumah Sanur Creative Hub in Bali was one of the insightful forums of Ayo Ketemu! (Let’s Meet!) a landmark enterprenurial creative program for Indonesians with mental and physical disabilities.

In the discussion that was the first of three public events presented by Gerakan Kreabilitas, Hanna Madness and Budi Agung Kuswara spoke candidly about their journeys utilizing art as an alternative therapy to positively impact upon their healing processes in relation to personal mental health issues. Structured around nine casual discussion forums, creative hands-on classes, and product presentations Ayo Ketemu! a 4-days and 3-nights residential workshop program ran from 28 June – 1 July 2019 at venues around Denpasar.

“I am here as a survivor because of my art,” said visual artist and mental health activist Hanna Madness who actively campaigns about art and mental health issues in Indonesia. “I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder more recently, however, I began experimenting in 2012 with art to help alleviate the stress and isolation caused by the mistreatment and deteriorating family and school relationships. I had no other choice so I poured my energy into my journal, sketching, painting and writing my thoughts,” said the Jakarta born activist who was named one of the “Top 10 Most Shining Young Indonesian Artists” (2017).

Ella Ritchie (Director & Co-Founder, Intoart UK) and participants during "Pasar Ketemu" evaluation at Rumah Sanur - Image courtesy of KETEMU PROJECTElla Ritchie (Director & Co-Founder, Intoart UK) and participants during “Pasar Ketemu” evaluation at Rumah Sanur

 

“When I was first diagnosed the issue of mental health in Indonesia was still taboo, there is now, however, a huge global momentum exposing the problems of mental health in modern society. My paintings have become my weapon to fight against my mental health issues,” she states.

Budi Agung Kuswara, or “Kabul” as he is known, is an artist and the co-founder of Ketemu Project, an art organization and community art space with a strong social philosophy and international program, located in Bali. In 2017 he initiated the “Schizofriends Art Movement” a community-based psychosocial rehabilitation program with art as the delivery system, devoted to supporting people living with schizophrenia to become active and functional individuals within society.

“Ayo Ketemu! is a nurturing platform for people with disabilities who have already started to create their own art and creative products,” said Kabul. “It is designed so that people with mental and physical disabilities can meet with artists to exchange ideas and viewpoints to help realize possibilities, and with exciting potential for collaboration. The output of this first time project in Indonesia targeting the disabled is highly marketable and export quality products and services.”

Participants of "Ayo Ketemu!" at Sudamal Resort in Sanur Bali - Image courtesy of KETEMU PROJECT             Participants of “Ayo Ketemu!” at Sudamal Resort in Sanur Bali

 

Gerakan Kreabilitas is an initiative movement working in conjunction with Ketemu Project and The Arts Development Company, funded by the British Council of Indonesia through the program of DICE (Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies). “Gerakan Kreabilitas is an initiative sparked by the premise that every individual is creative regardless of their abilities,” said Gerakan Kreabilitas Program Coordinator Rahma Yudi Amartina.

“Kreabilitas is a fusion of the terms “kreatif” and “abilitas” that reflects our vision of combining creative innovations and cultural development with business strategies. For this program we have selected thirty participants from around Indonesia through our Open Call for Participants in the visual arts, visual communication design, product design, craft, and fashion categories.”

"Ayo ketemu!" participants during a creative workshop at Jenggala Ceramics Bali - Image courtesy of KETEMU PROJECT“Ayo ketemu!” participants during a creative workshop at Jenggala Ceramics Bali

 

On 30 June Pasar Ketemu, the second of the open to the public events held at Rumah Sanur was a bazaar space for participants to present their products, ideas or prototypes to a judging panel comprising of Mayun Dewi (Social Enterprise Manager, Ketemu Project), Camelia Harahap (Head of Arts and Creative Industries, British Council Indonesia), Yap Mun Ching (Executive Director, AirAsia Foundation), Slamet Thohari (Lecturer, Researcher & Co-Founder CDSS, Universitas Brawijaya), Ella Ritchie (Director & Co-Founder, Intoart UK) and Baskoro Junianto (Expert & Curator, Badan Ekonomi Kreatif). Visitors to the event were also invited to contribute by voting for the creative enterprises that they believed were the most interesting and inclusive.

The five creative enterprises with the most inclusive ideas, will be receiving seed-funding of IDR 24 millions, incubation and mentorship support for 6 months from July – December 2019 for the development of their products and services, along with marketing and promotion both in Indonesia and globally. The final event of the program and the third event open to the public on 1July was the panel discussion Painting The Future of Creative Economy which explored the topic of a more inclusive arts and creative economy industry for Indonesians with disabilities with the panellists: Paul Smith (Director, British Council Indonesia), Yap Mun Ching (Executive Director, AirAsia Foundation), Baskoro Junianto (Expert & Curator, Badan Ekonomi Kreatif) and Slamet Thohari (Lecturer, Researcher & Co-Founder CDSS, Universitas Brawijaya), moderated by Samantha Tio (Director & Co-Founder, Ketemu Project).

Baskoro Junianto (Expet & Curator, Bekraf) is speaking about the future of creative economy during panel discussion 1July Image coutesy of KETEMU PROJECTBaskoro Junianto (Expet & Curator, Bekraf) is speaking about the future of creative economy during panel discussion 1July

 

“We are happy and grateful to be chosen as one of the selected creative enterprises. We hope that we’ll get a lot of insights and new experiences to contribute to the Indonesian economy by creating social impact creatively,” said the makers of the Surprise Wellness Kit Patricia Thebez from Jakarta and Devi Soewono from Bali, whose purpose is to create collections of products to support mental health sufferers based on different moods. Each product having a distinct response to each emotion.

“We are so delighted and this is unexpected for us,” said Vindy Ariella from Jakarta and Khomsin from Solo, whose project Mental Health Kit was judged as one of the five selected creative enterprises. “We hope that our product can grow in the global market and be useful for many people. Thank you, Gerakan Kreabilitas and Ketemu Project!” Their Mental Health Kit comes in a carry bag and contains a book about mental health, a mindfulness journal, sweater, and aromatherapy candles.

“The event was a great success with a lot of participants having collaboration regardless if they were the selected 5 creative enterprises or not,” stated Amartina. “I am amazed and inspired by all of the participants and their natural creative abilities, along with their powerful sense of self belief.”

Ella Ritchie (Director & Co-Founder, Intoart UK), accompanied by Samantha Tio (Director & Co-Founder, Ketemu Project), while judging at "Pasar Ketemu" Image courtesy of KETEMU PROJECTElla Ritchie (Director & Co-Founder, Intoart UK), accompanied by Samantha Tio (Director & Co-Founder, Ketemu Project), while judging at “Pasar Ketemu”

 

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images Courtesy: Ketemu Project

 

Genevieve Couteau: the French female virtuoso that Bali art historians failed to cite

Huile sur toile le théâtre d'ombres 130-97 encadre                                 Painting by Genevieve Couteau

 

Volumes have been written about the foreign artists who have visited, lived and worked on the island of Bali during the first half of the 20th century. Walter Spies, Rudolf Bonnet and Theo Meier are celebrated icons, while Hofker, Covarrubias and La Mayeur are all praised for their special talents. These artists, however, are all male.

French female artist Genevieve Couteau first visited Bali in 1968 and was immediately fascinated by the island’s lush tropical environment and the rich culture, and immediately set forth exploring and reinterpreting the beauty she perceived. Returning briefly four years later, and again in 1975 when she resided in Ubud for 6 months, she made several other sojourns up until 1984. Even though Couteau’s creativity was phenomenal and she was the only European female artist to visit Bali, she is one important person the art historians have failed to cite.

Balinese priest sketch by Geneieve Couteau                       Sketch of Balinese Priest by Genevieve Couteau

 

Art inspired by post-war Universalism represents the period 1945 -1970. Its ideology is underpinned by a rejection of reality and nationalism – the type of patriotism that prevailed in Europe, the UK and America during the 1930s – 1940s. It emphasized a greater worldview with a focus upon understanding people from other cultures. Asians were seen as offering other, mysterious access to the spiritual realms. It was not the “exotic difference” that mattered – it was the exploring of different types of universal endeavour. The art genre idealized “the other”, while surpassing the prejudices.

Born in Paris in 1924 Couteau was a star graduate from Beaux Arts, the Art College of Nantes-Métropole with a national and international reputation. Her outstanding talent was quickly recognized by the art establishment when she won the Prix Lafont Noir et Blanc (Lafont Black and White Award) in 1952 with her captivating drawings in the surrealism style. She became a noted figure of the Paris art scene aged in her mid thirties.

"Barong Landung" - Geneieve Couteau                                 Barong Landung – Genevieve Couteau

 

It was in the Southeast Asia, however, where Couteau’s creativity ultimately bloomed. Her opportunity arose to travel and experience the treasures of the East first visiting Laos in 1968 during the Vietnam War upon the invitation of the neutralist Prime Minister of the time.

Later that year she ventured to Bali. Both countries had a major impact upon Couteau, the vivid colours and light, the overwhelming sense of the spiritual, and the gentle natured people.

Couteau’s ouvre developed from pencil, charcoal and pastel sketches to oil paintings in subtle colours, or in her dynamic, fauvism inspired palate. Her compositions progressed, some into complex, futuristic works of the universal totality of nature revealing the sparkling cosmos, men and women depicted in harmony, and stunning landscapes with backgrounds of flowing patterns, similar to exotic textiles and batiks. Abstract and surreal elements were always key to the strength of her larger compositional works.

Geneieve Couteau (1925 - 2013)                                         Genevieve Couteau

 

Couteau’s depictions of the Balinese, especially the woman challenged the stereotypes, presenting distinct messages without an agenda. Her woman’s worldview resonated with humanism, was non-sexual, while understanding and accepting dissimilarities and highlighting equality of identity. Couteau reconfigured the visual narrative regarding women who are often misinterpreted or unacknowledged. Her feminine approach never exploited the beauty of a woman’s body.

Her painterly responses to Bali’s potent, unseen worlds are indeed intriguing. What prevailed was her unrivalled ability to capture the ‘spiritual’. Couteau’s magical scenarios and figurations glow with an unusual, yet distinct atmosphere – her otherworldly creatures often gaze out from the canvas with mysterious, shamanic eyes. Some of her impressions of Balinese characters stand alone within a historical descriptive context. In “The Old Lempad” depicting the famous architect and modern art master I Gusti Nyoman Lempad (1862? – 1978), he appears as an alien-like figure, in an after life manifestation. Her portrait of the extraordinary young painter Made Sukada (1945-1982) depicts a face beaming with love, intelligence and light, his glowing eyes reveal the presence of a wise and old soul.

Balinese woman and child - Geneieve Couteau                       Balinese Woman and Child – Genevieve Couteau

 

Attuning with the metaphysical forces and pure potential her work stylistically evolved – transcending into the mystical. Her depictions, real and imagined, of Bali life in her fresh and fascinating manner distinguished her from the acclaimed painters who preceded her, along with her peers, defining her as one of the most outstanding expatriate artists on Bali.

Couteau exhibited extensively from 1960 – 2000, in Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Vietnam, New York and Bali. Her talents extended to writing books and theatre, designing and making sets and costumes for performances. In a tribute to the visionary artist who passed away in Paris in 2013, seventy of Couteau’s works were displayed at the National Gallery of Indonesia, in Jakarta, early in 2018.

Geneieve Couteau                                Painting by Genevieve Couteau

 

Entitled “The Orient and Beyond” her exhibition was a collaboration with Institut Francais Indonesia. Couteau’s works are collected by museums in Paris, Lyon, Berlin, Venice, Bulgaria and one of her beautiful Bali inspired paintings is on permanent exhibition in Ubud at the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA).

Sketch by Geneieve Couteau                             Sketch by Genevieve Couteau

 

Painting by Geneieve Couteau

 

Oil on canvas painting by Geneieve Couteau                                      Paintings by Genevieve Couteau

 

 

Words:     Richard Horstman

Images:   Courtesy of Jean Couteau