Tag Archives: Artist’s Camp

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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Fostering Positive Indonesia Australia Relations through Cultural Exchange

Sudibia_Alice Springs                                          Alice Springs – Made Sudibia

Vast and dramatic, yet empty, it’s colours and moods potent, and ever changing – the Top End is one of the world’s extraordinary natural environments. Visitors to the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia are overwhelmed by the space, power, and beauty of this remote and ancient terrain. Until recently, this pristine landscape remained unchartered territory by Indonesian artists.

The Artist’s Camp is a special, biannual initiative that began in 2012, with origins tracing back to the late 1970’s. It has been designed to introduce Indonesian artists to an array of NT landscapes and aboriginal cultures in order to engage and creatively respond to the indigenous environment and people. The 2015 Artist’s Camp has been the most ambitious project to date, with nine foreign artists, mostly Balinese, staying five weeks and traversing the NT 1500 Km’s south from Darwin to Alice Springs and Uluru (Ayers Rock), and crossing the waters north of Darwin to Melville Island.

A view of some of the artwork on display at the NCCA           A view of some of the works by Indonesian artists on display at NCCA

The artists visited and lived with diverse aboriginal communities where they learned about the local cultures, while also painting with the local artists. Touring in the region not only necessitates commitment and preparation, yet also in some instances, special permission from the authorities. Acquiring the deepest insights into the character and wisdom of this foreign environment only became possible along side the indigenous people.

The Balinese artists immediately established strong associations with the aboriginals whose culture is similar to their own, being deeply rooted in the environment and the spiritual world – with parallel universal cosmological views. Their sensitivity to distinctions of the physical and the non-physical worlds of the Top End translated into potent, intuitive artworks.

#2                     A view of work by Indonesian artists on display at the NCCA

The Artists’ Camp Retrospective 2012-2015 Exhibition presented impressions of the NT’s iconic terrains by some of Bali’s most exciting contemporary artists at the Northern Centre for Contemporary Art (NCCA) in Darwin, open from 19 January – 15 February 2018. Thirty-five works and over one hundred photographs revealed the vibrancy and soul of the Top End, while highlighting artistic engagement with the landscape, and the aboriginal culture.

Officiated by the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Michael Gunner and the Indonesian Acting Consul Mohhamed Hanifa, the exhibition opened in classical Indonesian style with three hits from an old Javanese gong. The exhibiting artists were I Made Budhiana, I Made Sudibia, Ni Nyoman Sani, I Wayan Wirawan, I Made ‘Dalbo’ Suarimbawa, I Gede Gunada Eka Atmaja, and I Dewa Gede Rata Yoga (Balinese), and East Javanese female painter Suryani, along with Aboriginal artist Lionel Possum and Australian artist Rupert Batheras. The Chief Minister of the NT, the Australia Indonesia Institute, the Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs and the Commonwealth Bank Indonesia have sponsored the event.

#5                             Art by renowned Balinese artist Made Budhiana

“Being the first exhibition for the year we wanted to start with an exhibition involving Asian engagement and engagement with Indonesia, in particular,” said exhibition curator, long time collector of Indonesian and Aboriginal art and former Director and Chairman of the Board of Museums and Art Galleries in the Northern Territory (MAGNT), Colin McDonald.

“We wanted to highlight the artistic perceptions and aesthetic interpretations by leading Indonesian artists of the landscape of the Northern Territory and responses to living in Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal cultures.”

“I am so glad to learn that those participating artists in the Artists’ Camp have come together to showcase their collaborative works. I can simply say by looking at the paintings that you have worked so well and shown excellent pieces that represent the uniqueness of the Northern Territory,” said Mohhamed Hanifa during his exhibition opening speech.

Some of the photos of the Artist's Camp and Made Budhiana's other ventures to the NT at the NCCASome of the photos taken during the Artist’s Camp by Balinese artists Wayan Wirawan & Made Budhiana on display at the NCCA

“I would like to especially thank Colin McDonald who has been bridging and maintaining relationships, not only between the Bali Provincial Government and NT Government, but importantly between the Indonesian/Balinese artists and Australian/Territorian artists.”

Delving into new visual and conceptual territories the artists created vital interpretations of the landscape, from the barren wilderness, to mountain ranges and desert springs, along with responses to aboriginal traditions and livelihood. Some of the highlights were “Munupi & Pukumani Pipes” painted on Melville Island, Wayan Wirawan’s reaction to burial poles of the Tiwi Aboriginal community of Pirlangimpi, Made Budhiana’s “In the Darkness of the Night” is his nocturnal observations of the aboriginals and how at night the greater spirit of the people became evident, and Suryani’s pulsating “Beswick-Darwin” capturing the essence colorful native flora.

Indonesian Acting Consul Mohhamed Hanifa, the Chief Minister of the NT Michael Gunner and Colin McDonaldIndonesian Acting Consul Mohhamed Hanifa, the Chief Minister of the NT Michael Gunner and Colin McDonald during the opening at the NCCA.

The photographs, taken by Budhiana and Wirawan, revealed a compelling story of the artist’s time in the NT as guests, and as impromptu Indonesian cultural ambassadors. From their many light-hearted moments to random snaps taken on the road, while exploring, and art making, to images of their meetings with the public, officials at honorary functions, and the aboriginal people.

“What has stood out to me,” McDonald said, “Is the effortless way that the Indonesians interacted with the Aboriginal people, the positive synergy that evolved and the Indonesian’s immense appreciation for the indigenous traditions and art of the Top End.”

Made Budhiana_"In the Darkness of Night."                                  In the Darkness of Night – Made Budhiana

 

Sani Tiwi landscape                                       Twi Landscape – Nyoman Sani

Wayan Wirawan "Honeymoon Gap". Image M. O'Riordan                                 Honeymoon Gap – Wayan Wirawan

Balinese artists Wayan Wirawan, Made Budhiana, Ni Nyman Sani with Australian Artist Rupert Betheras at the NCCA 23 Jan 2016, Image Budhiana copyBalinese artists Wayan Wirawan, Made Budhiana and Nyoman Sani with Australian artist Rupert Berteras at the NCCA.

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Made Budhiana, Richard Horstman, Colin McDonald & Maurice O’Riordan.