Tag Archives: Art Spaces

Wayan Karja: From a ‘Young Artist’ to Balinese Visionary

p21iwayan-img_assist_custom-511x337                                                       Wayan Karja

Within every Balinese village there is a tale or two to be told.

The association between the master and pupil has played a vital role in the development of Balinese traditional art. The bonds amid teacher and student, father and son, or among relatives have enabled the sharing of ideas, support and tuition. Such relationships helped categorize Balinese art by village styles or ‘schools’.

In the late1920’s – 30’s, Balinese art was being revolutionized and adapted for foreign tastes. The two-dimensional Hindu narratives, Kamasan or Wayang paintings met head on with western aesthetics and the results were dramatic. The development of tourism created large markets for these new paintings, and localized schools of art, such as the Ubud, Sanur and Batuan schools, came to the fore.

20160804_184737                                                “Cosmic Energy 2016”

Fast forward to 1959 when Arie Smit, an accomplished Dutch artist living in Penestanan began sharing art materials with, and teaching young boys in the village. This was the beginning of the “Young Artists” style, and at its height there was about 300 village practitioners. Colorful and fresh, it was very popular in the 1970’s as tourism was enjoying a revival. Penestanan has a distinctive artistic history of its own.

This tale however, is about a painter, art educator and administrator from the village who has succeeded in creating a unique artistic voice within the framework of Balinese modern art.

Wayan Karja’s earliest memories are of sitting in his father’s lap with a paintbrush in hand.

“My father often guided my hand through sketches or marked areas within a composition that I would fill in with color,” Karja says. “I was very lucky to grow up in a thriving art environment, every member of my family within the compound was painting, even the women too. This intense activity was inspirational.”

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Born in Penestanan in 1965 Karja’s natural ability and birthright automatically sealed his fate. Determined to learn more about art he received a wealth of local and international art education. Karja studied in Switzerland in 2008-11 painting abstract landscapes, while in 1997-99 he undertook an art scholarship at the University of South Florida, USA. At the School of Fine Arts, Denpasar, 1981-85 he broadened his knowledge of art theory and international art, and then at the Udayana University in Denpasar, 1985-1990 delved into impressionism and abstraction, and was inspired by Monet, Van Gogh and Matisse.

From 1978-81 Karja studied the Ubud style learning about light, shade and the anatomy. As a child he was introduced to the master pupil association and trained for many years under the watchful eye of his father Ketut Santra who gave him his indoctrination into the “Young Artist” style. “There were no galleries at that time so the buyers came direct to the artist’s home. At the age of 10 I sold my first painting,” Karja recalls.

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In 1994 upon visiting a museum in Switzerland Karja had his most profound art experience. One that began his love affair with modern art. He observed a pure red composition by the American abstract painter Mark Rothko.

“Is this what they call art?” Was Karja’s cynical response.

Yet by the time Karja had completed his tour of the museum the significance of the work was understood. Rothko’s work leapt out from the walls and “spoke” to him unlike any other artist had previously done. Rarely had an Indonesian artist adopted color as their sole message, least of all the Balinese.

“Balinese art is about tight configurations of patterns, details and narratives yet I was always driven to search into its philosophies.” Karja’s journey eventually led him to a deep exploration of cross-cultural thinking and he began combining the philosophy of the Balinese Hindu Mandala colors with modern western techniques. Karja’s initial response to the colors and movement of his environment (landscape and culture) had been based on emotion, yet the impact of Rothko and other western painters demanded from him a new sense of selfexpression.

“Balinese abstraction developed in the 1970’s yet it was different to the western model. Most of our creations are deeply rooted in traditions including icons, symbolic and non-symbolic elements, as well as philosophical and spiritual aspects of the Balinese way of life.” Karja’s direction evolved through intellectual endeavor, “Allowing my work to become simpler and more spiritual,” Karja says.

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Karja’s technique involves building layers of color, often in drips and with the use of watered down medium often creating swirling and dynamic organic forms. The works may be subtle and shimmering, or powerfully vibrant. They are always inviting, meditative and mysterious, creating aesthetic contrasts between the landscape and the cosmos.

“There is no separation between art and life,” Karja says. “Life is color and my physical and spiritual journey is to become an accomplished colorist painter.”

His contribution, via teaching, to the development of Balinese art has been substantial. Karja began in 1990 at the School of Fine Arts in Ubud and then at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI) in Denpasar where he continues teaching to this day. Over the years he has taught locally and abroad holding various positions, from 2002-04 as head of the Fine Arts Dept., Indonesian College of the Arts (STSI), Denpasar and from 2004-08 as the Dean of the Visual Arts Department at ISI.

“I enjoyed and benefited from this experience,” he says. “However being an administrator took me away from my artistic dreams.”

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Karja has exhibited in many international countries and frequently travels locally and abroad giving lectures, speeches and engaging in collaborative projects. At his family’s guesthouse Santra Putra in Penestanan is his gallery and studio, along with a space open to the public for workshops and events, where he teaches tourists and often hosts exhibitions by young local artists.

“Journey to the Unknown” Karja’s March 2015 exhibition in Jakarta showcased 42 paintings created between 2010-15 was an outstanding success. “The audience’s response was excellent, nonetheless I experienced an unexpected sense of liberation. I realized to complete a procession from childhood through to adulthood, my transition from a world of freedom to one dominated by mental activity, in order to sustain my creative journey I have to return to a childlike state.”

“I have now opened a new door with the motto – play, flow and free. I am invigorated and my works reflect a new joy,” Karja says.

“Now I am learning how to play again.”

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http://www.wayankarja.com

Words: Richard Horstman

 

 

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Art Spaces in Bali

Cata Odata - "Distopia" Exhibition 2015 - Image Cata Odata                                                                       Cata Odata

When thinking of Bali’s premiere art and cultural destinations immediately the tourist mecca of Ubud springs to mind. For those treading the art map the well-known museums Puri Lukisan, Neka and ARMA (the Agung Rai Museum of Art) display fine collections of Balinese traditional art, along with some Indonesian modern and contemporary art.

Within the constantly evolving art landscape of Ubud, galleries and art spaces come and go. The post 2008 Indonesian art boom economics has taken its toll and has led to the closure of some big name fine art galleries in Bali. In recent years, however private and artist driven initiatives – art spaces – that operate outside of the commercial gallery model, have become ‘the’ essential art infrastructure behind the development of contemporary art on the island.

12565520_1028752623814501_5170390935646932665_n                                                                Ketemu Project Space

Attracting the non-commercial and experimental artists, thriving on dialogue and creativity, art spaces are plugged into social media (vital to the new paradigm of art organizations connecting them 24/7 to the global community, a bonus with the wealth of information available on the internet). You can check them out via Facebook or Instagram prior to your arrival and Google maps will help in finding the location. Two icons of Ubud must be mentioned, Sika Contemporary and Pranoto’s, here’s some recommendations………

Fifteen minutes north of Ubud, Jalan Sri Wedari, Junjungan, on the right side in the rice fields look for the big white installation “Not For Sale”. Balinese landowner, social activist, and artists Gede Sayur along with his friends established Luden House in 2009. Committed to art with a social and environmental conscience Luden began as an art space and gallery to support the development of contemporary art via exhibitions, workshops and events. “Not For Sale” evolved in 2010 in response to the alarming rate of Balinese agricultural land being sold for development and has since grown into a popular social movement, securing marking Luden House on the Bali map. When the Luden family are not organizing events, often for children, they are painting or creating art products from sustainable products and wearable’s to sell, with a percentage of sales going to local farmers associations.

Luden House Ubud - 'Not For Sale' + 'Sold Out' 2014, Image Richard Horstman                                                       Luden House and “Not For Sale”

Cata Odata in Penestanan introduces a new model of infrastructure to Bali combining artist and gallery management, residency programs, internships along with exhibitions and a community space for discussions and workshops. Born in 2014, the brainchild of two dedicated and hardworking East Javanese characters: Ratna Odata and Djunaidi Kenyut. Kenyut having many years experience as an exhibiting artist, and managing events and spaces in Bali and Surabaya. They promote Indonesian artists based in East Java and Bali while encouraging global connections and exchanges. Upcoming events include “Bare Journal #3” artist in residency program. This requires participating artists to create a daily journal, complete with their thoughts, ideas and sketches. These are then exhibited alongside their work to inspire deeper levels of connectivity between artists and the community, while granting insights into the machinations of the artists mind. Periodically they offer lodgings for those curious to know more about this young art space and its workings.

TiTian Art Space. Image by Richard Horstman                                                                        TiTian Art Space

The husband and wife team of Balinese artist Budi Agung Kuswara and Singaporean artist Samantha Tio drive Ketemu Project Space in Batu Bulan, 30 minutes south of Ubud. Dedicated to engaging a wider audience and individual sectors of the public arena, Ketemu embarks on large projects drawing upon their local, national and regional networks. Inviting artists and curators to participate in their artists in residency program Ketemu’s 2016 project, “Merayakan Murni” promises to be a landmark event. Celebrating Indonesia’s most important female artist Balinese painter I GAK Murniasih (1966-2006) who was instrumental in forging new thematic grounds in Balinese and Indonesian art. The project gathers artists and writers to create works in response to the legacy of Murni and will culminate in an exhibition in July.

Cata Odata Art Space "Distopia" Exhibition - Image by Cata Odata          Cata Odata during the opening of the exhibition “Distopia – 1000 Islands”

Launched 29 January 2016 in celebration of the 80th anniversary of the influential Pita Maha artists collective, the TiTian Bali Foundation is located at the TiTian Art Space in Jalan Bisma, Ubud. Driven by a revolutionary vision for Balinese art on the local and global stage, the Chairman of the Board of Advisors of Yayasan TiTian Bali Soemantri Widagdo says, “TiTian Bali is being founded in an effort to “reframe” the potential of Balinese visual arts with the belief that in order to flourish they need to be integrated into a creative economy.” Aiming to be the premier hub for Balinese visual arts by 2021, Yayasan TiTian Bali is building a new eco system for Balinese art for the 21st Century through education and new pathways of engagement.

Ketemu Project Space - "Aja Presentation". Image courtesy of Ketemu                                                                 Ketemu Project Space

Fast Facts:

Cata Odata

Call: +6281212126096

cataodata@gmail.com

www.cataodata.com

Facebook: Cata Odata

Instagram: cata_odata

Located opposite the Pura Dalem temple in Penestanan Kelod, Ubud. Look for the big white building on the left. Featuring quarterly exhibitions and random feisty gatherings, the three level venue is always open and welcoming. Check out their online store of art products and wearable’s: www.arcimisi.com

TiTian Bali Art Space

Call: +6282214400200

Facebook: TiTian Art Space

http://www.titianartspace.com

Jalan Bisma #88, Ubud

swidagdo@yayasantitianbali.org

Travel way down to the end of Jalan Bisma and look for an aqua blue building on the left side. This brand new facility is a work in progress, an experimental playground and global launch pad for young talented Balinese artists. Backed by local and international foundations with members whose experience is second to none. On display in the gallery is some of the finest Balinese traditional and contemporary art in on the island.

Ketemu Project Space

Contact: +6282144097060

Facebook: Ketemu Project Space

Instagram: ketemu_project_ space

http://www.ketemuprojectspace.com

meet@ketemuprojectspace.com

Perumahan Taman Asri #3A
Batu Bulan, Gianyar

Head east 500 meters along Jalan Batuyang, on the right look for the entry to Perumahan Taman Asri. A savvy and professional team, with a compact and cosy facility. Regular events open to the public. Out to raise the bar in what’s possible within artist driven spaces in Bali.

Luden House

Call: +628122772137

Jalan Sri Wedari, Junjungan, Ubud.

gedesayur@yahoo.co.uk

Facebook: Ubud Luden House

Instagram: gede_sayur

A grassroots local art experience that brings social and environmental awareness to the fore. Regular events, big and small, a good time is always guaranteed. Look out for the soon to open Balinese warung with tasty local delicacies.