Category Archives: Southeast Asian Art

Balinese art patronage – now & then

Balinese Kamasan Painting                                          Balinese Kamasan Painiting

 

Balinese painting has a rich and unique history dating back over 400 years. Originally the work of artisans from the East Javanese Majapahit Empire (13-16th Century), this special narrative style of painting expanded into Bali in 1343 when the Majapahit conquered Bali, introducing the Hindu culture, and institutions.

The collapse of the empire in 1515 led to the mass migration of the Majapahit aristocracy to Bali, and from the 16th – 20th centuries, the village of Kamasan, Klungkung, East Bali was the epicenter of classical Balinese painting. The art form thrived because its patrons were the highest-ranking kings of Bali. Patronage has played a defining role in Balinese art, and there are many fascinating stories about the development of the art, and the characters involved, both from the present, and the past.

Flora and fauna painting by Ketut Rudi of Lodtunduh                       Flora and fauna painting by Ketut Rudi of Lodtunduh

 

The Kamasan paintings feature two-dimensional compositions with imagery derived from the Wayang shadow puppet theater, one of the original story telling methods in the Balinese Hindu culture that may be traced back over 2000 years to India. Often depicting battles between the forces of good and bad, the narratives originate from the Hindu and Buddhist texts, and old Javanese-Balinese folktales.

The paintings decorate Balinese temples and adorn the houses of the aristocracy. They communicate about the philosophies of life, religion, ethics and morals, as well as flora and fauna and astrology, while serving to bring peace and harmony to society. Referred to as an ancient academic art, it differs from modern systems by placing more emphasis on contemplation, the role of the senses, meditation and direct application.

Art patron Colin McDonald with Lodtunduh bird artist Ketut Rudi (left)Australian collector and art patron Colin McDonald with the renown bird painter from Lodtunduh, Ubud, Ketut Rudi

 

The formation of the Dutch colonial state in the early 20th century had a massive, disruptive impact upon the Balinese social structures. Patronage was previously inherent to social belonging: the king, village, or clan commissioned a work from an artist, or a group of artists for some rice, or possibly a piece of land. Under foreign rule artists no longer worked solely for their palaces, yet had to contribute free manual labor, suffering loss of status, privileges, and the spiritual returns of working for royalty.

A revolutionary period of creativity began in Ubud in the 1930’s having a dramatic effect upon the traditional art, along with the lives of many Balinese. A new genre was born, Balinese modern traditional art, featuring the introduction of western techniques with more realistic iconography, and modern narratives to cater to a burgeoning market for souvenirs purchased by the initial wave of foreign tourists to visit Bali. Important patronage came from early western settlers, along with the Ubud royal family, who later in 1954 opened Ubud’s first museum, Puri Lukisan.

Art patron Colin McDonald with Made Budhiana Colin McDonald with Balinese contemporary artist Made Budhiana whom he has supported for over 30 years

 

A new era of private patronage began, post 1970’s, during the second wave of tourism, when successful art dealers became gallerists, and then museum founders in Ubud. Suteja Neka opened the Neka Art Museum, Agung Rai established ARMA, and Nyoman Rudana opened the Rudana Museum.

An important modern day chapter of art patronage is accredited to Australian collector Colin McDonald QC, who first visited Bali in 1983. “I was immediately arrested by the beauty of the landscape, along with the art, and was eager to return,” said McDonald, who at the time was a collector of Australian aboriginal art.

"Menyanyikan Hidup" 2012 - Made Budhiana                          “Menyanyikan Hidup” 2012 – Made Budhiana

 

Upon his first visit to the Rudana Gallery, McDonald was attracted to the natural, aesthetic, and spiritual qualities of the art. In 1984 he purchased his first Balinese paintings, one by the abstract expressionist Made Budhiana, and another by the Lodtunuh bird painter Ketut Rudi. McDonald later met and befriended the artists.

“I was especially attracted to gentle, insightful and spiritual temperaments of the two artists,” McDonald said. “After I visited Budhiana’s home and witnessed the depth and power of his work, I starting buying directly from him.”

"Good Friday" Wayan Wirawan“Good Friday” 2018 painted by Wayan Wirawan on Good Friday at Colin McDonald’s residence at Lodtunduh, Ubud

 

The process of becoming an art connoisseur is driven by a thirst for knowledge, and meeting and learning from other collectors and experts. McDonald frequented the Rudana Gallery, and later the Neka Museum, and there he met important Indonesian collectors who were willing to share about their passion.

McDonald started collecting contemporary art and he loved to immerse himself in the local art community. Today he owns more than 400 pieces, sketches, drawings paintings, installations and sculptures. In 2011 he went on to establish, in conjunction the Northern Center for Contemporary Art in Darwin, the “Artist’s Camp” for Indonesian and Balinese artists to visit the Northern Territory of Australia to interpret the landscape and the indigenous culture.

"Easter Sunday" Wayan Wirawan            “Easter Sunday” 2018 by Wayan Wirawan for Colin McDonald

 

“Art is a celebration of life, and a great companion. It speaks of cultural and religious tolerance, and the importance of ceremony,” McDonald said, who found art a perfect refuge from a stressful law career. “The Balinese artists have an extraordinary sensitivity to seeing the world and the universe with an intelligence and receptivity to both the seen and unseen worlds. The western world, however, often neglects this, and this reflects the spiritual gaps within western contemporary culture, along with their struggles.”

 

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Courtesy of Colin McDonald & Richard Horstman

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ArtJog 2018 attracts important international collectors

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

ARTJOG 2018_Curatorial Tour                             ArtJog Curatorial Tour hosted by Ignatia Nilu

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

ArtJog – Enlightenment

Continuing through to 4 June 2018

Daily from 9am – 5pm

Jogja National Museum

Jalan Prof. Ki Amri Yahya No. 1, Yogyakarta

www.artjog.co.id

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Coutesy of ArtJog & Richard Horstman

 

 

Bali’s GWK Statue completed after almost three decades

Image courtesy PT. Siluet Nyoman Nuarta

The epic tale of the Garuda Wisnu statue at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) Cultural Park in Jimbaran, South Bali will soon reach its finale. In a monumental saga that stretches back to its conceptualisation in 1989, including the on and off progress of its construction, the sculptures creator, Balinese artist Nyoman Nuarta, has confirmed the project will be completed in early August.

“By the 4th of August this extraordinary combination of art, technology and science will be complete,” Nuarta recently announced. “This nation will have a new cultural icon, that, despite taking more than 28 years, and without help from the Indonesian governement, showes that private sector can contribute greatly to the nation and state. It is a special gift to celebrate the nation’s Independence Day on the 17 August, 2018,” added Indonesia’s most celebrated sculptor.

GWK Image courtesy PT. Siluet Nyoman Nuarta

Originally scheduled for completion in March 2019, in mid 2017 Nuarta was given a new deadline by the Indonesian government. The statue, which is the second tallest in the world, must be finished before October 2018 when IMF and World Bank delegates converge on Bali for their annual meetings to be held 8 -14 October. As a part of their itinerary a dinner will be held for the delegates at the GWK Festival Park, a vast field surrounded by limestone cliffs, within the sprawling 60-hectare cultural park.

In April a special ceremony officiated by the Governor of Bali, Mangku Pastika celebrated the installation of the statue’s 529th module, the Mahkota Dewa Wisnu – the 3.5-ton crown of Wisnu that is covered with gold-platted mosaics. A total of 754 modules of the statues outer skin, made of copper and brass sheeting, each weighing on average 800 kilograms, complete the installation.

Photo courtey PT. Siluet Nyoman Nuarta

The project has occupied as many as 120 experienced wielders working on site to re-assemble the modules before they are lifted up by two cranes and bolted onto the outer steel frame of the statue by workers who specialize in high altitude construction. “During the initial stages of the statues design there was no available technique to enlarge the difficult and complicated three-dimensional forms, nor was there any computer software that could do this,” Nuarta said. “Therefore, I had to find the solution to the problem. Finally, in 1991 we found a theory, and along with the birth of Autocad software we could move forward.”

Rigorous scientific integrity testing has been undertaken on all the construction materials and the statue itself, even taking earthquake resistance into account with the pedestal being able to withstand up to 8 on the Richter scale. Wind tunnel tests have indicated the statue, the largest in Indonesia, could withstand winds speeds of up to 259 nautical miles per hour.

side elevation GWK statue - image courtesy PT. Siluet Nyoman Nuarta

Standing 121 meters at the top of the Ungasan ridge, 271 meters above sea level and with a wingspan of 64 meters, the skin surface area of the statue reaches two and a half hectares or 25,000 m2, during the evening the statue will be a unique feature of the cultural park with its special lighting arrangement that was built-in Singapore. The statue will sit on a pedestal, or building base, which will function as a restaurant serving up to 500 people. There will also be a museum and a viewing gallery that will allow panoramic vistas of the rest of South Bali.

“The target is to attract 6,000 tourists per day,” Nuarta said, then continued. “Hopefully, Garuda Wisnu Kencana will serve as a reminder to Indonesians and the international audience, throughout this divisive period about our cultural roots as a tolerant and multicultural nation.”

Image Courtesy of PT. Siluet Nyoman Nuarta

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images courtesy: PT. Siluet Nyoman Nuarta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balinese contemporary artist Budi Agung Kuswara: putting arts real values into perspective

21231555_207954026407213_6957891409753761884_nArtist Budi Agung Kuswara (lower, left of center) with staff, friends and patients of Rumah Berdaya

 

Art plays distinctive and irreplaceable roles within the development of a healthy society. Art offers us opportunities to be inspired, become more educated and aware, as well as to observe the thoughts and feelings of our fellow-man. The best contemporary art is essential to our well-being, having something important to say about the era we live in. Due to the onslaught of globalization, however, the financial values of art are becoming increasingly prized, over the real, functional values of art.

Balinese artist Budi Agung Kuswara represents the vanguard of emerging contemporary artists in Bali today who are reshaping the genre. What is significant about this artist, however, is his passion for how art can transform and bring greater meaning to individual lives, while building resilient communities.

26903979_1656075377748886_2074571056155799779_nVisitors at the gallery of Rumah Berdaya looking at art work by “Skizofriends Art Movement”

 

‘Kabul’, as he prefers to be known, was born in Sanur in 1982. From the age of twelve he worked beachside selling souvenirs to tourists, and he learned to surf the pristine waves that race along the coast’s outer reefs. Surfing inspired his deep connection with the forces of nature that influence his physical and non-physical worlds. His father was born in Klungkung, East Bali, the Classical art epicentre of the island. He was raised into the custom of Kamasan painting, the living tradition of story telling art used to decorate the island’s temples and the houses of the aristocracy, and serving to convey peace and harmony within Balinese society.

As a child painting was a readily accessible mode of expression, nurturing and playful, a medium through which Kabul could later explore his feelings, and ideas about identity and life. “My perspective was different to the traditional cultural identity and I came to understand that I didn’t fit in with the mainstream,” Kabul said. “So I learned to follow my own path.”

Anonymous-Ancestors    Anonymous Ancestors – art work by Budi Agung Kuswara for 2018 UWRF

 

The path of an outsider is one of duality – of freedom, yet of isolation as well. Kabul’s solitary experiences eventually led to feelings of lack of confidence; at times he felt depressed. His love of art became an increasingly vital activity – a guiding creative force. Motivated by the desire to share and inspire positive change Kabul wished to capitalize upon what had manifested during his personal struggles while he was a youth – his knowledge of art as a practical tool for self-transformation.

“I am inspired by the intervention of art into the public sphere and how it can become increasingly meaningful by responding to problems and needs of society,” Kabul said. “Through my own psychosomatic experiences I understand art is a potent medium for healing and self-empowerment.”

IMG_4668Art making at Rumah Berdaya – Budi Agung Kuswara with “Skizofriends Art Movement”

 

Kabul became aware of a community rehabilitation initiative established in 2015 by Rai Putra Wiguna, a psychiatrist at the Denpasar Regional Hospital, along with some of his patients. In response Kabul went on to create the Skizofriends Art Movement” in 2016, a group that focuses on both art therapy, and life-skills training programs for local men and women with schizophrenia. “I am committed to eliminating the stigma attached to people suffering from mental illness, while promoting their inclusion in society,” he said.

Following on from the success of Kabul and his colleague’s lobbying of the Denpasar Government Skizofriends Art Movement” in 2017 became a part of the Denpasar City Health Department Care Program, and is still ongoing. “By introducing a simple, sustainable model of how an organized art program can beneficially function for people, we immediately gained the government’s support,” Kabul said. The group was then offered an abandoned building in Jalan Hayam Waruk (next door to the Bali Bakery in Renon) that became “Rumah Berdaya”.

35151724_10216609420728479_6691008827497644032_o           “Skizofriends Art Movement” with artworks at Rumah Berdaya

 

Meaning house of empowerment, “Rumah Berdaya” began as a meeting place for people with schizophrenia, so they could learn new skills, interact and express themselves. Its focus is to create opportunities for the patients to constructively engage with the public, while helping them to regain their status as useful and productive members of society.

From 2002 Kabul spent thirteen years living in Yogyakarta, studying fine art at the prestigious Indonesian Art Institute (ISI), here his work became more politically and socially driven. Charmed by Orientalism and how exotic images led to supposed attitudes and ideas of Bali by westerners, in 2013 Kabul started using an old printing technique to experiment with, and explore his ideas about cultural identity, while creating new inroads in Balinese contemporary art.

Golden-Farmer                            Golden Farmer – Budi Agung Kuswara

 

With his life partner, Singaporean artist Mintio, they are the creative force behind Ketemu Project, in Batubulan. A visual art collective and social enterprise hybrid with a focus on social and international engagement, Ketemu burst onto the scene in 2015 during a critical period in the development of contemporary art infrastructure in Bali, injecting important fresh energy into the Bali art world.

Look out for Kabul’s art “Anonymous Ancestors”, on exhibition, and featured on all promotional media, in the upcoming 2018 UWRF, 24-28 October.

http://www.budiagungkuswara.com

 

Words: Richard Hostman

Images coutesy: Budi Agung Kuswara & Skizofriends Art Movement

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

What is the value of human life?

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

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

malaikat copy                                       King Kong’s Land – Malaikat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

31052365_10155177701881916_4372840048123445248_n                                   Forgiveness #2 – Mangu Putra

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Dipping in the Kool Aid”

Open to the public daily 10am – 5pm,

4 – 31 March 2018

Tony Raka Art Gallery,

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

 

Words: Richard Horstman

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

Citra Sasmita captures the Indonesian contemporary art spotlight

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12697353_896845307096369_7827360737894318145_o                              Birth of Nothingness – Citra Sasmita

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Citra Sasmita & Richard Horstman

Under the hammer: Previewing Larasati’s Traditional, Modern & Contemporary Art Auction, Bali, 21 January 2018

lot #579 Ida Bagus Made Poleng "Stone Mason" Image courtesy of Larasati                             Lot # 579 Stone Mason – Ida Bagus Made Poleng

 

Larasati Auctioneer’s continue to provide excellent support in the development of Indonesian art, especially Balinese traditional painting, to growing local and international markets with its upcoming 21 January 2018 Traditional, Modern and Contemporary Art auction to be held in Ubud, Bali.

Eighty lots of fine art will go under the hammer, including paintings, sketches, a woodcarving and one delightful poster, in an array of categories, and with price accessibility for new buyers, intermediate collectors, and the connoisseurs alike. For the third year running real time, Internet bidding is available through the Larasati website opening the auction to a global audience.

lot #533 Bagong Kussudiardjo "Wanita Wanita Bali" Image courtesy Larasati                      Lot # 533 Wanita Wanita Bali – Bagong Kussudiardjo

This is an exciting sale with some absolute gems featured, along with works by renowned Indonesian and foreign artists, including Balinese master Gusti Nyoman Lempad (1862-1978), Ida Bagus Made Nadera (1910-1998), Ida Bagus Made Togog (1913-1969), Wayan Taweng (1922-2004), Antonio Blanco (1911-1999), Dutchmen Rudolf Bonnet (1895-1978) and Arie Smit (1916-2016) and Australian artist Donald Friend (1914-1980). The auction is highlighted by a special selection of works from the collection of one of the most forward thinking private collectors of Balinese art in the United States, Peggy Williams.

For the new buyer, or novice wishing to add to their collections there are many paintings and drawings priced at lower than US $500 that are very good buys if purchased within their estimates. Two, especially glowing works by recognized female painter Ni Gusti Agung Galuh, lot # 545, Pulang Dari Sawah and lot #546 Sunset with Ducks, both have an estimated price of between Rp. 4 million – 5 million. Lot # 548, Sore Hari di Desa by Gusti Agung Wiranata also has the same estimated price, while lot #524, Ocean Village Scene, an early work by the renown Batuan painter Wayan Bendi has an estimated price of between Rp. 5 million – 7 million and is another excellent opportunity to purchase a strong work. All of these works represent buying value not possible when purchasing paintings direct from the artist’s studio or from a gallery.

lot #524 Wayan Bendi "Ocean Village Scene " Image courtesy of Larasati                       Lot #524 Ocean Village Scene – Wayan Bendi

There are two lots of special interest for collectors and those seeking to purchase something unusual. Charming & Beautiful lot # 539 is a 75cm x 48cm advertising poster by the reputed Dutchman Willem Gerard Hofker (1920-1981), which has an estimated price of between Rp. 10 million – 12 million. Lot # 519, Barong by influential Balinese wood carver Nyoman Tjokot (1888-1971) has an estimated price of between Rp. 30million – 40 million and is a rare find from an artist who was at the forefront after the turn of the 19th century of new sculptural interpretations of icons of the Balinese culture.

Works in the mid price range are many and some strong paintings include groups by twoartists Bagong Kussudiardjo (1928-2004) and Dewa Putu Mokoh (1934-2000). Well known as a choreographer Bagong learned to paint from Indonesian masters Hendra Gunawan and Affandi, among others, before studying painting formerly at ASRI Yogyakarta. Of his four works offered, lot #530 Ibu dan Anak has an estimated price of between Rp. 12 million – 15 million, and Wanita Wanita Bali, lot #533, has an estimated price of between Rp. 45 million – 55 million.

lot#564 Anak Agung Gde Anom Sukawati "Suasana Pasar" Image coutesy Larasati             Lot #564 Suasana Pasar – Anak Agung Gde Anom Sukawati

Four works are on offer by Mokoh, noted for breaking with convention and producing compositions that were quirky, lurid, even intimate and highly unusual. The present owner purchased the paintings directly from the artist, and lot #553, Tajen, a delightful scene of an audience watching a cock fight, has an estimated price of between Rp. 22 million – 32 million.

Lots #517, 521, 577 & 580 are by Made Sukada (1945-1982). An artist held in very high esteem, his attention to compositional details and skin tones, set him apart from most and have led to him being a highly sought after painter, especially due to his short career. The idol of Indonesian international contemporary art superstar Nyoman Masriadi, lot #521 by Sukada, Dialog Arjuna dan Kresna has an estimated price of between Rp. 90 million – 110 million. Another beautiful work by Nyoman Kayun, lot #548 Pusupati has an estimated price of between Rp. 40 million – 80 million.

Lot#553 Dewa Putu Mokoh "Tajen" Image courtesy Larasati                             Lot# 553 Tajen – Dewa Putu Mokoh

An early work dated 1989, by Ubud’s most celebrated living painter, Anak Agung Anom Gde Sukawati, lot # 564 Suasana Pasar was painted when he was only 23 years old. While the influence of his father, A.A Gde Meregeg (1912-2000) is obvious, some five years later his work evolved and made a clear departure from his father’s style. With an estimated price of between Rp. 90 million – 110 million, this is an extraordinary piece to collect.

An extremely rare and early masterpiece by, arguably the most talented Balinese painter of the 20th century, Ida Bagus Made Poleng (1915-1999), will receive the attention from connoisseurs. Lot # 579, Stone Mason is offered as the top lot in this auction, with an estimated price between Rp.350 million – 450 million. Probably produced in the early 1940’s as it is painted on Masonite board, the work, which has excellent provenance, reveals his mastery of composition and the strong influence of Rudolf Bonnet is clearly shown in the way he has depicted figures working in the field.

lot #521 Made Sukada "Dialog Arjuna dan Kresna" Image courtesy Larasati                     Lot #521 Dialog Arjuna dan Kresna- Made Sukada

The final lot during the afternoon, lot # 580 by Made Sukada, Bali Life, has an estimated price between Rp. 40 million – 80 million and also comes with excellence provenance. An early work of remarkable beauty, its layered composition reveals fascinating central background features and is another step in Sukada’s journey in the master of anatomy, influenced by Rudolf Bonnet’s signature style of elongated human proportion.

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

lot # 580 Made Sukada "Bali Life" Image courtesy Larasati                            Lot #580 Bali Life – Made Sukada

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

Open to the public at the Larasati Art Space in the Tebesaya Gallery the auction starts at 2:30 pm Sunday 21 January, while viewing begins from 11am Friday. The online catalogue, complete with a guide for prospective buyers is available at: www.larasati.com

577                               Lot# 577 Tri Murti – Made Sukada

Viewing:

Friday,         19 January   11am – 7.30pm

Saturday,   20 January     11am – 7.30pm

Sunday,     21 January     11am – 1pm

Auction: Sunday 21 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 Auctioneer’s