Category Archives: The Bali Art Scene

“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

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Bruce Carpenter: presenting Indonesian art & culture to the world

BruceC-2a                                                          Bruce Carpenter

 

A lust for life and adventure, along with a generous dose of savvy have propelled New York City born and bred Bruce W. Carpenter around the planet.

The son of a young American soldier who returned from WWII with an upper class English bride, Carpenter found himself torn between the idealism and glory of old Britain and the cosmopolitan metropolis of his birth. In the end, the creative cauldron that was NYC in the 60s & 70s would be the winner.

“I found my sanctuary in the great museums and then seminal art scene of the “City” where I was introduced to the Underground Art Scene and the Beat Poets. This would lead on to the first happenings, the precursor of installations, in Soho lofts, Andy Warhol’s Factory, experimental theatre and film,” says Carpenter, who eventually channelled his creativity into filmmaking. Carpenter was also an eyewitness and full-blown inductee into the Woodstock Generation, having attended the concert, and the Age of Aquarius. He played in a Blues band and was a member of several theatre groups.

Lempad_cvr_300dpiLempad of Bali: the illuminating lineCarpenter, Darling, Hinzler, McGowan, Vickers, Widagdo

The election of Richard Nixon and the resurgence of the conservative right, along with the death of a brother who served during the Vietnam War, precipitated a leap across the Atlantic Ocean to the city of Amsterdam where idyllic hippie dreams were still raging on. After experiencing one long and miserable Northern European winter, Carpenter succumbed to exotic tales of the mystic East recited by a new breed of young travellers.

In 1974 he sold his camera and bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok. During the next 18 months he would explore the east crisscrossing the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia starting in Sumatra. Together with the Swiss artist-photographer, Charles Junod, they would scout out wild destinations and create surreal installations that they photographed. These would tour Europe in an exhibition of surreal photography sponsored by the Canon Gallery.

When Carpenter arrived on the island paradise of Bali, Kuta was no more than a small village set in coconut groves adjacent to the beach. “There was a handful of homestays with a cast of international bohemian suffers and roaming hippies as the guests,” he recounts. The two most dangerous moving objects were falling coconuts and the deer-like Balinese cow.

sovarrubias-sketchesMiguel Covarrubias Sketches: Bali – Shanghai – Adriana Williams & Bruce W Carpenter

For the next decade Carpenter led a nomadic lifestyle with regular visits to Bali. In the early 1980s, after meeting Dr. Stanley Kripper, he began organizing cultural tours under the auspices of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Sausalito. These specialized in visits to traditional healers and religious figures and would end with a book on traditional Balinese healing co-authored with Krippner and Dr. Denny Thong the head of Bali’s mental hospital in Bangli.

In 1985 Carpenter settled in Ubud and began working on a series of research and art projects usually tied with the art, history and culture of Indonesia. As his reputation grew he was invited to author and co-author a growing number of books. In 1993 he gained wide attention as the author of Willem G. Hofker, Painter of Bali (1993), the first major book on an expatriate artist on Bali. Several other books on expatriate artists soon followed including the acclaimed, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, the First European Artist in Bali (1997).

“Often in life, its not what you know, but who you know,” says Carpenter. Through a serious of discussions with key figures in the hotel industry in Bali Carpenter was to be granted a wonderful opportunity after he convinced the management of the Four Seasons Resort in Jimbaran that luxury hotels were the natural heirs of the mantle once held by the royal palaces as patrons of the arts. The result was the opening of the Ganesha Gallery, the first dedicated art gallery on the premises of a hotel in 1992. This was hailed as an excellent cultural bridge between the guests and Indonesian modern and traditional art.

9789814068154-us          Emilio Ambron: An Italian Artist in Bali – Bruce W. Carpenter

Initially the resort attracted wealthy and sophisticated international clientele and with the charismatic Carpenter as the figurehead of Ganesha and his sharp eye for art, the timing was perfect and it became an immediate success.

For a 15-year period the gallery held 12 exhibitions a year, an unheard of phenomenon in Indonesian art, confirming it as the fine art gallery in Bali. In its heyday well-heeled guests and local collectors purchased quantities of art, however over the years as the profile of the guests changed, along with events such as the Gulf War, 9/11 and the Bali bombings, and its market gradually faded. This experience for Carpenter gifted him with enormous experience and knowledge, along with connections and an international reputation.

In the meanwhile Carpenter would also begin publishing a series of books on the traditional arts of Indonesia, including Mentawai Art, Batak Sculpture, Nias Sculpture and two books on traditional jewellery. “I am a firm believer that expatriates should contribute to the country they live in. I was blessed with a deep knowledge and appreciation of Indonesian arts and culture which is fast disappearing and I have taken it upon myself to try to record as much of it as possible.

4mpXadWmpPcjnmClhQXP          W.O.J Nieuwenkamp: First European Artist in Bali – Bruce W. Carpenter

In all, Carpenter has written and co-authored over twenty books and scores of articles on Indonesian art, culture and history. However, with the recent release of the book Lempad of Bali – The illuminating Line, the first fully comprehensive study on the master of Balinese traditional artist, Gusti Nyoman Lempad (1862-1978), on the 20th September 2014 at Museum Puri Lukisan, he admits, “this has by far been the most challenging project I have engaged in in my life.”

“As the book concept and project manager my list of tasks was unprecedented. I had to oversee interactions with over forty institutions and collectors in eight different countries, each with different requirements, along with dealing with six authors, one of whom is dead!” Carpenter says. “Our endeavour was to include the broadest range of Lempad’s works available in the book, therefore the detective work required was unbeknown to us and consequentially enormous.” The beautiful volume of over 424 pages is the culmination of more than six years work for the team of dedicated and respected academics and professionals.

“Bali deserves to have world class art exhibitions, books and events to create more interest in its immense and unique culture,” Carpenter states.

“I am dedicated to the publication of illustrated books on the traditional arts of Indonesia which have disappeared or are disappearing. We honor the past by recording its brilliance. I also feel it is important to urge young Indonesians to do the same. It is ironic that westerners play such a critical role in the studies of Indonesian art. This should change.”

Opinionated and articulate Carpenter counts many, including the rich and famous, as friends. A father of two he cuts both a dashing and unusual figure. His trailblazing journey through life is rich in colourful tales that are steeped in the exotic, mysterious and dynamic.

127446                                 Indonesian Tribal Art – Bruce W. Carpenter

 

Words: Richard Horstman

The Art of Pengosekan Village

Ketut Rudi. 2010                             Birds of Lod Tunduh, 2010  – Ketut Rudi

Balinese traditional art is the art of story telling. Its ancient narratives bring to life tales from the sacred Hindu and Buddhist texts, old Balinese and Javanese folklore, and accounts of daily life. Its purpose is to promote harmony within the community via examples of proper moral conduct.

During the past century indigenous art has been revolutionized via the meeting with Western art techniques and ideas into a ‘new’ genre that became known as Balinese modern traditional art. This art form thrived due to the development of new tourist markets, driven initially by the first wave of foreign visitors in the 1930’s, who after holidaying on Bali wished to purchase a memento to bring home. A distinctive feature of Balinese modern traditional art is the different village styles, or ‘schools’ that evolved over time, each with its own individual creative verve.

Cosmic Circle - Dewa Nyoman Batuan                                    Cosmic Circle – Dewa Nyoman Batuan

Stories from the other side of the canvas – both triumphant and tragic – of the artists and the events behind the art have enriched the ‘aura’ of Balinese modern traditional art while endearing a global audience. This is a tale about the art and some of the characters that have distinguished the art from the village of Pengosekan.

Overshadowed by the more famous styles of Ubud, Batuan and Sanur, Pengosekan, one kilometre south of Ubud, has its own art history, complete with unique figures, and signature styles. The most celebrated of all Pengosekan painters is Gusti Ketut Kobot (1917-1999), accredited as one of the leaders of the post-war changes in Balinese paintings, he was also an influential art teacher. Some of Kobot’s finest works are mythological featuring characters from the religious narratives, while he also responsible for creating the prototypes for the scenes of village life that would be ceaselessly imitated for mass production as tourist art.

Gusti Ketut Kobot, "Triwikrama" 1986, Image couresty of Larasati                                 Triwikrama, 1986  –  Gusti Ketut Kobot

Kobot’s renditions of characters that still today are brought to life in the Wayang Kulit shadow puppet theatre are executed with extraordinary attention to compositional balance. According to the Balinese paintings that achieve perfect visual equilibrium indicate the artist’s excellent skills, and his strong connection with the divine. Brahma on Wilmana, Kobot’s painting of the Hindu god of creation riding the monster headed mythical bird Wilmana, on permanent display at the Neka Art Museum in Sanggingan, Ubud is fine example of his talent.

Structured with outer layers of decorative patterns the central characters appear framed and effortlessly poised, Wilmana wears a magic protective poleng (black and white checkered cloth) around the waist to avert harmful forces, since it has positive white and negative black in balance. Kobot is renowned for such depictions, honing them to the height of refinement. He is acknowledged as one of the masters of the original Ubud artist’s cooperative, the Pita Maha that thrived between 1936-1945, helping establish Balinese modern traditional art.

Gusti Ketut Kobot."Scene from Ramayana Story" 50x70cm                         Scene from the Ramayana story  –  Gusti Ketut Kobot

The inhabitants of Pengosekan were predominantly farmers, tending the agricultural fields surrounding their village. In the process of breaking away from the orthodox subject matter that featured in their paintings, the artists began to look outside of the conventions for new creative inspiration, and started paying more attention to nature.

A signature style developed in Pengosekan during the 1960’s featuring images of local flora and fauna painted in fresh pastel colours. At first the artists focussed on depicting bird life set within beautiful scenarios of forests and trees, others then explored nature close-up, their compositions highlighting an array of insects, often grasshoppers or butterflies rendered in great detail.

Pengosekan Style                              Pengosekan fauna and flora style

One of the finest practitioners of the flora and fauna style is Ketut Rudi who was born in Lotonduh, just south of Pengosekan in 1943. His works were commissioned and collected by the second President of Indonesia, Suharto (1921-2008) and hang in the Presidential State Palaces around the country. Rudi often painted at the State Palace in Tampaksiring, Central Bali, while Suharto was on retreat from the nation’s capital city, Jakarta. To ease his mind Suharto would often sit for hours watching Rudi at work.

Another painter, Ketut Liyer (1924-2016) was a local village priest (pemangku) who painted agricultural scenes and the sacred cloth amulets known as rerajahan. Liyer, who was also a paranormal and ‘healer’, shot to international fame via the Hollywood movie Eat, Pray, Love released in 2010 and starring Julia Roberts. Liyer’s paintings occasionally come up for auction at the twice-yearly Larasati Bali art sales held in Ubud.

Dewa Put Mokoh, 2006, Acrylic on canvas 60x90cm.                                      Dewa Putu Mokoh, 2006

Dewa Nyoman Batuan (1939-2013) was an icon within the world of Balinese art. Painter, entrepreneur and artist community visionary, he was graced with an effervescent personality. Batuan had a dream for his village that manifested into the Pengosekan Community of Artists in 1970.  Through his entrepreneurial endeavor he helped establish international markets for the local paintings and was able to contribute enormously for the well-being of the community of poor farmers, many who became painters to supplement their family income. Batuan’s contribution to the development of Balinese modern traditional art was to fuse traditional narratives within the Buddhist structural icon of the mandala, designing compelling, unique, and highly original works.

His older brother, Dewa Putu Mokoh (1934-2010) broke free from the restraints of Balinese art to introduce personal and intimate visual stories of another side of life that was often quirky, lurid, and even taboo. Simplified forms dominated his compositions, a self trained artist, Mokoh’s works boarded on both the modern and contemporary, simplifying and extending the range of images in Balinese art, especially with his close-up focus on intimate scenes.

I GAK MURNIASIH - SEMBAHYANG 104 - AOC - 170 x 100 cm - 2004                                   Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih

Pengosekan became the adopted home for the most important woman artist in Indonesian art history, Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih (1966-2006). Murni came from Tabanan, Central Bali to study with Mokoh. She rose from the life as a child of a farmer, poor and uneducated to the ranks of artistic distinction. Her father sexually abused her at the age of nine. Murni’s minimalist figurative/surrealistic style featured powerful coloration while communicating via the language of the sub conscious. Her outsider art is confrontational, daring and even violent, yet always electrifying. Murni’s work broke significant grounds into the social taboos of gender politics and feminism.

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gunarsa(DK)

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

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

Sketch in black ink- Gunarsa

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

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

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

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Words: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words & Images: Richard Horstman & Merio Falindra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Menjumput Masa Lalu – picking up the past

20170522_131213                         Generasi J.K #1,2,3 2016 – Nyoman Suarnata

Ubud’s Sika Gallery presents Menjumput Masa Lalu (picking up the past), a group exhibition of contemporary artworks by the # PK collective. On show from 21 May are installations, drawings, paintings, videoart, object art, scpultures, and graphics by five young Balinese artists I Gede Jaya Putra, Ngakan Putu Agus Arta Wijaya (NPAAW), I Nyoman Suarnata, I Made Putra Indrawan, and I Putu Nova Ruspika Yanto, along with written text by female arts and language freelancer Savitri Sastrawan.

All the participants were students at the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) in Denpasar, studying between 2006 – 2009. Their works explore themes from the serious, to light- hearted and include environmental issues, the conflict between tradition and modernity, identity, the erosion of Indonesian democracy, and even thought-provoking themes that incite humour.

20170522_131349                              Home, 2017 – Putu Nova Ruspika Yanto

Full Space 2016, by Nyoman Suarnata (b.1987, Mengwi, Badung) is a progressive representation of iconic local subject matter that is too often translated into conventional painted forms. His installation of two-dimensional canvases taking on 3 dimensional hexagonal forms adds fresh life to the subject matter. Suarnata’s images related to the cultural pasttime of tajen (cock-fighting) are rendered in 3 colours systems evoking different eras; black & white (conjuring up pre modern Bali), monochrome, and dynamic realism (suggesting modernity).

"Black and White" Ngakan Putu Agus Arta Wijaya                   Black & White, 2017 – Ngakan Putu Agus Arta Wijaya

Text by Sastrawan (b.1990 Denpasar) is a response to the collective’s artworks revealing her thoughts related to struggle; not only of Indonesia’s on-going journey of democracy, yet also the everyday challenges that confront young artists. Her writings are set within the form of an installation, centrally positioned is a humourous, yet disturbing illustration. The Garuda Pancasila, the mythical eagle featured on Indonesia’s national emblem, with the motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (unity in diverstiy), is hospitalized and receiving care. Corruption, violence, injustice and inquality, seemingly sanctioned by the country’s ruling elite, are current and real threats to democracy.

Tentang aku jendela rumah dan angin, (about my window house and the wind) by Made Putra Indrawan (b. 1987, Denpasar) is a light-hearted and quirky installation. He presents a small box through which an nondescript, whimsical creature peers out through a window, the medium is timber. From a tiny electronic device inside the sound of strong winds emanate, while the words – tentang aku jendela rumah dan angin are emblazoned across the wall. The audience is prompted to imagine the artist as this curious creature.

Savitri Sastrawan               Let’s Pick Up the Past With PK! 2017 – Savitri Sastrawan

Diary Book # 1 & 2, by Putu Nova Ruspika Yanto introduces alternative asethetics and techniques to the exhibition, aiding in its overall strength. His woodcut images are presented within the format of two diaries. While one book depicts images of his young son and wife, the other narrative is his observations of dramatic and disheartening change. The artist’s home environment was once cool, green and clean has, within the space of a few decades, become barren, void of trees. It’s now hot and dry, and polluted.

The work of two promising Balinese talents, Gede Jaya Putra and NPAAW are showcased in Menjumput Masa Lalu, both are worthy of close observation as they mature. Jaya Putra (b.1988, Kerobokan) attracted much attention with Transformation, his first solo exhibition in 2013, revealing remarkable depth in the exploration of his social themes, equally supported by his imaginative works.

"Generasi Sintetis" Gede Jaya Putra                Generasi Sintetis 2017, (Synthetic Generation) – Gede Jaya Putra

Generasi Sintetis 2017, (Synthetic Generation) emphasizes his ongoing theme of the process of change that is confronting today’s yonger generation, specifically the change from the natural, to the synthetic world. The large installation comprises of three elements, and includes more than 20 pencil sketches of the foliage of different trees positioned upon sections of tree trunks functioning as pedestals. Two screens reveal videos, one of colourful flowers and foliage, the other, shot in black & white, focusses upon the physical structure of branches, and its myriad of abstract forms. The contrast between what is real and that which is illusory is powerful, highlighting the demise of the natural environment, which is increasingly threatened by modern development.

The focal piece of Generasi Sintetis is a hybrid character, part human, part machine, the icon central to Jaya Putra’s transformation theme, his representation of the younger generation of Balinese. A black, life sized, two dimensional figure holding a glass jar containing a synthetic eco system.

20170522_131104Tentang aku jendela rumah dan angin, (about my window house and the wind) 2017 – Made Putra Indrawan

The medium of video art IS the most challenging format for an artist to master, and to successfully communicate his ideas. The most effective works are generally short, no longer than two minutes, with simple messages that are easy to read. The audiences’ attention must be captured from the beginning of the video and maintained until the very end. The moment boredom sets in our attention wanders, yearning for fresh stimulus, and the artist loses his audience.

Jaya Putra has been experimenting with this format for the past five years. Merasakan Ibu Pertiwi (feel mother earth), 2017, his 2-minute performance video, features the artist walking bare-footed through the crowded city streets of Japan, “feeling” the earth. We become observers of contrasting imagery, Jaya Putra’s feet making direct connection, as opposed to the multitude wearing shoes. Jaya Putra attaches the video screen to the gallery ceiling so we must look up to observe what in reality is always witnessed when looking down. Jaya Putra’s work is uncomplicated and thought-provoking, while communicating a facet of Balinese cultural worldview.

"Full Space #1 #2 & #3" Nyoman Suarnata                            Full Space #1,2,&3, 2016 – Nyoman Suarnata

NPAAW (b. 1990 Pejeng, Gianyar) is currently based in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia’s largest, most diverse and dynamic art community. In Menjumput Masa Lalu he presents three round paintings and one installtion, rendered in black and white tones and representing duality. Two meters in diameter, Black & White is an interguing composition, a part of his ongoing theme featuring animals in metaphorical scenarios representing the never-ending cycle of life, and the constant process of change. His composition features two horses with elongated bodies, one black, the other white, travelling in clockwise motion. The foreground features the Beatles walking in counter-clockwise direction, reminiscent of their famous album cover Abbey Road.

Zebranizasi is a fascinating installation, again emphasizing duality, and that according to Balinese Hindu philosophies, all life and universal order is subject to equal and opposing forces. The installation features 6 individual works, three iconic Balinese cultural creatures, another two the lucky charm of the Japanese, maneki-neko, the waving cat. The final piece reveals a dramatic, yet impossible scenario upon a chess board. The horse or Knight is painted as a zebra, balancing both the positive and negative forces, and has the black and white kings in a check mate position.

"Zebraniasi" Ngakan Putu Agus Arta Wijaya                    Zebranizasi, 2017 – Ngakan Putu Agus Arta Wijaya

The contributions by the Sika Gallery in the support and development of Balinese contemporary art is unsurpassed. The vision of painter, sculptor, writer, critic and provocatur Wayan Sika (b.1949, Silakarang, Gianyar), in 1996 he opened Bali’s first non-commercial artist’s driven space to provide a platform for the avant-garde that was quickly evolving on the island. Continuing in the tradition of exhibiting young and immerging local artist’s the Sika Gallery presents Menjumput Masa Lalu, continuing through until 3 June 2017.

Detail of Installation "Generasi Sintetis" Gede Jaya Putra      Detail of Generasi Sintetis 2017, (Synthetic Generation) – Gede Jaya Putra

20170522_131328                       Diary Book # 1, 2017Putu Nova Ruspika Yanto

Menjumput Masa Lalu (picking up the past)

21 May – 3 June

Sika Gallery

Jalan Raya Campuhan

Ubud, Bali

Open daily 9am – 5pm

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

Bali Artists’ Camp 2016 Exhibition

Made Budhiana "Badak Taman Ujung Karangasem"                Badak Taman Ujung Karangasem – Made Budhiana

Impressions of some of Bali’s most important archeological sites, the 11th century Gunung Kawi temple in Tampaksiring, and the stone reliefs at Yeh Pulu in Bedulu, along with dramatic landscapes depictions from remote East Bali, went on display at the Bali Artists’ Camp 2016 Exhibition.

Open from 8 April – May 22 at the Made Budhiana Gallery, Ubud, and featuring more than 30 paintings, sketches, and installations by local and foreign artists, the exhibition marks the fifth year of engagement between the Northern Territory of Australia and Bali, and Eastern Indonesia.

Gede Gunada "Yeh Pulu"                                       Yeh Pulu – Gede Gunada

An art and cultural engagement that began in 2012, the Bali Artists’ Camp’s vision evolves around engagement with the landscape, nature, and the rich Balinese culture. The event brings together artists from Bali and Indonesia, with their counter parts from Australia, and other foreign countries, to visit inspiring sites throughout Bali, to work on location in a visual art and cross-cultural exchange exercise.

The fruits of the 2016 Bali Artists’ Camp, themed engagement with monumental Bali, produced on separate occasions in May, June, July and September 2016 (collectively a period of seven weeks), will be displayed until 22 May. The vibrant collection includes works by renown Balinese artists Made Budhiana, along with Made Sudibia and Gede Gunada from Bali, and paintings by Freddy Sitorus, born in South Sulawesi, and East Javanese painter Nanik Suryani.

Nanik Suryani "Gunung Kawi"                                       Gunung Kawi – Nanik Suryani

The foreign artist’s contributions reflect different artistic approaches and backgrounds, Japanese artist Rie Mandala’s offerings are delicate works in ink on paper. Well-known Australian artist Michael Downs’ compositions have both surreal and abstract sensibilities, fellow countryman Ivor Cole prefers to works in oil, in his realism paintings, while Australian Mary Lou Pavlovic’s presentations are forged from an array of media, including timber and plastic, with the addition of paint and other decorative media.

Ivor Cole said of his experience, “the cultural divide between the artists is quickly wiped away. There is no separation, we are here to absorb and translate the best we can through the visual image, the emotional, spiritual state of this place and this time.”

Ivor Cole                                        Puri Prima – Ivor Cole

“The Northern Territory – Indonesia relationship has a long history of trade and cultural exchange,” said Michael Gunner, the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, who is one of the co sponsors of the event.

“For hundreds of years trade and cultural exchange flourished between the Macassans (people from present day Sulawesi and related islands) and aboriginals of the Northern Territory. Since the birth of the Republic of Indonesia, and the attainment of Self- Government for the Northern Territory in 1978, there has been an increased focus on acknowledging and strengthening our economic, cultural and social ties within the region,” Gunner adds.

Made Sudibia - "Perwujdudan Dewi Kesuburan"                                 Perwududan Dewi – Made Sudibia

“I had the honor of traveling through the lush tropical landscape with the local artists visiting spectacular temples and monuments,” Mary Lou Pavlovic said. “And I was struck by how close to nature the Balinese and Indonesian artists were, everywhere we went they knew all the fruit and medicinal herbs. I realized although I long to feel this affinity with nature, I am not from a culture that exists in the same way with nature.”

The Bali Artists’ Camp compliments the Artists’ Camp art engagement project run in alternative years by the Northern Center For Contemporary Art (NCCA) in Darwin.      “The Artists’ Camp involves Balinese and Indonesian artists traveling to the Top End of the Northern Territory and interpreting its rugged and diverse landscape, together with an artistic and cultural interaction with Aboriginal artists,” said the founder of the Made Budhiana Gallery, Australian Colin MacDonald.

Michael Downs "Gambelan Landscape"                           Gambelan Landscape – Michael Downs

“The camp started as a concept with the original Director of Museums and Art Galleries in the Northern Territory (MAGNT), Dr Colin Jack Hinton back in 1978.” MacDonald, the former Director and Chairman of the Board of MAGNT, developed the concept further when he took Balinese artist Made Budhiana to the NT to participate in the first international Artists’ Camp, along with Australian and Malaysian artists in 1990.

The vision of the ten-year program of the Artists’ Camp is that the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, the Australian Prime Minister and the Indonesian President will open a touring exhibition at the Australian National Gallery that will include the first retrospective of the Australian-Indonesian artists’ engagement.

Study for a Monument of Flowers             Study for a Monument of Flowers – May Lou Pavlovic

 

The Bali Governor, Made Pastika, who is also a supporter of the event, will visit the exhibition in early May to meet the artists, and to be presented works by the artists.

This project has had the on-going and enthusiastic support from the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Department, the Australia Indonesia Institute and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, especially successive Australian Consul Generals.

20170414_085327                                    Batur – Gede Gunada

Made Budhiana Gallery

Villa Pandan Harum

Jl. Anak Agung Gede Rai

Banjar Abian Semal

Gang Pandan Harum

Lotonduh, Ubud

Tel: 0361 981624

Words & Images: Richard Horstman