Tag Archives: Batuan School of painting

“BALINESE MASTERS” exhibition presents significant insights into the development of Balinese painting

"Essence of Void' 2019 - Wayan Sika, image Richard Horstman                           Essence of Void, 2019 – Wayan Sika

 

Balinese Masters: Aesthetic DNA Trajectories of Balinese Visual Art, an ongoing presentation in Bali of installations, paintings, sculptures, drawings and objects by thirty-four Balinese artists and communities has opened to the delight, as well as the scrutiny of many in the Bali and Indonesian art worlds.

The highly anticipated exhibition, open 25 May at the AB•BC (Art Bali•Bali Collection) Building, Nusa Dua, is the first of a landmark three part annual exhibition series that endevours to define the historical developement of the Balinese visual arts. The AB•BC Building, a purpose built, international standard presentation space established by BEKRAF, the Indonesian Agency of Creative Economy, was opened in October 2018 after two years of planning.

"Mother's Earth's Love" 2018 - Ketut Budiana. Image Richard Horstman                             Mother Earth’s Love, 2018 – Ketut Budiana

 

Balinese art was one of the key Indonesian cultural icons promoted to the global market during the Suharto’s government 1970s development of mass tourism. It’s unique historical and artisitic distinctions have been, however, overshadowed by its commodification which began in the 1930s during the first wave of foreign tourists to visit the island. Balinese art has remained largely unappreciated, while being maligned as tourist, ‘folk art’.

The importance of presenting an international standard exhibition to a global and local audience in Bali, explaining the distinct development and essence of Balinese art can not be overstated. The enormous task bestowed upon respected curator Rifky Effendy from Bandung, West Java, is to capture this as a type of chronological reading so it may be easily comprehended.

"Wajah Wajah Mengambang" 2019 - Made Djirna Photo Richard Horstman                    Wajah Wajan Mengambang, 2019 – Made Djirna

 

Effendy’s curatorial text states: “Through this exhibition we can highlight various aesthetic and artistic achievements of Balinese artists, both [those] who are still residing on the island and those who live outside it. It is an attempt to examine and narrate the practice of creating fine arts in Bali without subscribing to those conventional methods based on categorization, paradigm, art history, or any other ‘constraining’ means.”

An essential communative facet of this exhibition is the accompanying wall texts written by local and international academics, collectors, curators and experts presented along side some of the works explaining certain stylistic developments, along with the impact of influenual art collectives, individuals and events. The significance of studying the paintings along with reading these texts must be emphasized as a guide to help in the understanding of such an enormous and distinctive art history.

"Cili Uang Kepeng" 1995 - I Nyoman Tusan, image R. Horstman                         Cili Uang Kepeng, 1995 – Nyoman Tusan

 

One of the great challenges faced by Effendy, who has been assisted by renowned scholars, experts and artists Agung Rai, Jean Couteau, Hardiman Adiwinata, Edmondo Zanolini, I Made Aswino Aji , Satya Cipta, I Wayan Sujana Sukl and Soemantri Widagdo, was to access master artworks from the definitive 1930 – 1945 era of the influential Pitamaha artist’s collective, and earlier Classical works, from institutions and private art collections. The enormous time and energy required to do this therefore deemed it impossible to begin this three part series at the chronological start of its development. Balinese Masters: Aesthetic DNA Trajectories of Balinese Visual Art, begins its visual description from 1950.

Excellent examples of how Balinese art has evolved aesthetically post 1950s may be seen in Mother Earth’s Love, 2018 by Ketut Budiana who took Balinese painting on his own innovative path by transforming the philosphies behind the Balinese religious and folk tale narratives into a unique visual language. All forms depicted within this gold and Chinese ink on canvas composition are in a continual the process of change – transfroming from the ether into the tiniest of vapors which eventually changes into denser physical matter (Budiana’s figures) and then completes the eternal cycle and returns back into the invisible.

"Cosmic Energy" 2019 - Wayan Karja Image Richard Horstman                          Cosmic Energy, 2019 – Wayan Karja

 

The second signature style of the most critically acclaimed genre of Balinese painting – the Batuan School – is featured in the works by Made Budi and Wayan Bendi. The original style which developed in the 1930s relatively free of outside influences. It involved religious and folk tale themes and others close to the heart and mind of the people’s daily life. Often dark and frigntening, including magic, power and ritual, they were expressed in black ink tones on paper. The Miniaturist School of the 1970s was created by the artists Jata, Rajin and Murtika, Budi’s modern themes, under the influence of American photographer Leonard lueras, introduced beach scenes and surfing.

Bendi went further and introduced politics and his enormous Untitled, 2013 stretches nearly ten meters wide, a composition encompassing a universal perspective, reflecting a modern, bustling Bali with the multi ethnic and religious peoples, of tourists, and the transfromational technologies, side-by-side with scenes of traditional Bali.

"Gugusan Energi Alam Batin 6.14.4.019" 2019 - Putu Wirantawan - photo Richard Horstman       Gugusan Energi Alam Batin 6.14.4.019, 2019 – Putu Wirantawan

 

The poineer of Balinese painting within the modern western framework was I Nyoman Tusan (1933-2002) who was the first to study modern art (1945-1962) at Institute of Technology in Bandung (ITB), West Java and later in Belguim. Cili Uang Kepeng,1995 by the intellectual, lecturer and official typifies his modern approach to Balinese ritual objects. I Nyoman Gunarsa (1949 – 2017) also made important contributions to the modern expressions of Balinese icongraphy taking the static and rigid wayang figurations of the Classical paintings and transforming them into dynamic forms with his modern action style of painting. Unfortunately, his displayed works are not his strongest.

Contemporary art sensibilities mixed with Balinese philosophies, symbols and incongraphy when landmark works were made in the 1970s by the pioneers of the Sanggar Dewata Indonesia (SDI) collective – Made Wianta, Nyoman Erawan and Made Djirna, works from this era were not included, but more recent works are. A complete alternative in the exhibitions aesthetics is Djirna’s commanding installaion of more than two thousand pumice stone carved faces Wajah Wajha Mengambang, 2019 which takes observers into different experiential dimensions. Others recent artists that should be mentioned for their achievements within the development of aesthetics are Gede Mahendra Yasa and Putu Wirantawan. Gugusan Energi Alam Batin 6.14.4.019, 2019, is a fascinating and eye-catching installation of pencil and pen sketches by Wirantawan.

"Aktifas Kehidupan" 1984 Made Budi                         Aktifas Kehidupan, 1984 – Made Budi

 

Balinese painting from the Classical and the new more westernized styles that appeared in the 1930s (the Batuan, Ubud and Sanur Schools being the foremost) is characterized by its story-telling function with the aesthetic features of a graphic-drawing based style of art with the space of the canvas fully occupied with the layering of patternations. The big shift away from this that occurred has been to a modern, non-narrative, non-patterned color based abstract style of painting where abstraction represents Hindu symbolism.

The powerful and beautiful mixed media works by Wayan Sika, one an installation of nine paintings The Essence of the Void, 2019 measuring 600 x 360 cms, and the smaller No Ego, 2019, along with two magnificent pulsating compositions by Wayan Karja, both titled Cosmic Energy, 2019, are very important inclusions and highlight the important shift that has not been clearly underlined in the exhibition. The title of the exhibition may be somewhat of a misnomer, and one may wonder what is the criteria that determines how the participants have been selected, especially some of the younger artists and the art communities. Due to the vast scope of content the presentation would benefit from, upon entry, instructions on how to read the exhibition.

"School of (pre) Raphael, 2018 - Gede Mahendra Yasa Image R. Horstman                     School of (Pre) Raphael, 2018 – Gede Mahendra Yasa

 

Balinese Masters: Aesthetic DNA Trajectories of Balinese Visual Art is a beauitful presentation celebrating this fascinating art form that opens the door to the next eaggerley awaited 2020 exhibition. Continuing through until 14 July 2019, it is essential viewing for those who wish to know more.

Balinese Classical paintings by, from left Mungku Muriati, Mangku Mura, Mangku Kondra & Mangku Nyoman Kondra. Image Richard Horstman‘New’ Balinese Classical paintings by, from left Mungku Muriati, Mangku Mura & Mangku Nyoman Kondra.

 

 

Balinese Masters : Aesthetic DNA Trajectories of Balinese Visual Art

Open daily 11 AM  –  9 PM

AB•BC (Art Bali • Bali Collection) Building

Nusa Dua, Bali

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Richard Horstman & courtesy of HPM, Bali

 

 

 

 

 

Neo Pitamaha – An Art Movement in the Making?

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The outsider event Cahyendra Putra and the Neo Pitamaha Invite You To: A Brutal Contrast of Concrete and Kamasan Painting which opened on Sunday 23 October will be recorded in the annals of Balinese art history. The exhibition, which in many ways is noteworthy, is underpinned by a long awaited and fresh approach to presenting art in Ubud, outside of the conventional gallery, art space and museum format.

Held at the location of former residence of the iconic Bali art influencer, Dutch painter Rudolf Bonnet (1895-1978), this collaborative project features street art by artists from Bali & Jakarta, along with paintings by selected emerging local talent from Batuan, Ubud, Tabanan and Denpasar. In this event, which is set within the gutted interior of a building, twenty young artists reveal their interpretation of the Pita Maha (great spirit, guiding inspiration) in dynamic contemporary art that challenges the establishment.

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The Pita Maha was a famous artist’s collective established in Ubud in 1936 by Tjokorda Agung Sukawati, Prince of Ubud , senior local artist and Bali’s first modern master Gusti Nyoman Lempad and expat Europeans, Walter Spies (1895-1942) and Rudolf Bonnet. Its vision was to develop and preserve a new art genre, labeled Balinese modern traditional art, and to present it outside of Bali.

 

Commercially and culturally, the birth of the Pita Maha, and its legacy had dramatic consequences. Large and new markets began to open for Balinese artists, from the 1930’s the initial wave of European and American tourists began to arrive, and an industry evolved to carter for their needs. Ubud as a consequence became perceived as the epicenter of Balinese Art and Culture.

20161023_161832                                    Painting by Wayan Budiarta

Located opposite the Campuhan Hotel on Jalan Raya Campuhan, for two decades the building that is the venue for A Brutal Contrast of Concrete and Kamasan Painting has remained unused. Stripped back to its core structural form of raw, concrete ceilings and floors, with aging white washed brick walls, it becomes the perfect environment for an underground event that within it’s soul is deeply rooted in ideology, and peppered with controversies from the Dutch colonial past.

Street art by Unclejoy, the Punten, Ego, Saf, Ola, Slinart and Kemalezedine, with potent sociopolitical content rendered in dynamic spray can color brings the tired, forgotten interior into vibrant life. Emerging Balinese contemporary Balinese artist Made Aji Aswino, a.k.a Ego continues on with his theme about the monster that is the human ego. His works makes references to the phenomenon of materialism that is engulfing modern Bali, and he juxtaposes his monsters of the ego identity with popular consumer icons. Kemalezedine meanwhile takes images from Dutch colonialism making reference to the era of the Pita Maha artists collective.

wayan-aris-sumanta                                Painting by Wayan Aris Sumanta

The paintings by emerging young Balinese artists are positioned to create a dynamic contrast with the street art, and igniting the interior walls. The artists include Dewa Gede Sanju, Gede Anton, Wayan Budiarta, Pande Made Di Artha, Made Ariana, Dwi Wayan Eka, Wayan Aris Sumanta, Gede Dwiyantara, Kadek Jutawan, Agus Suputra, Ketut Sumadi & Wayan Mandiyasa.

Batuan artists Wayan Budiarta and Wayan Aris Sumanta reveal that the Batuan School of painting boasts fresh and exciting talent, and that the recent formation of the Baturlangan artists collective in Batuan is reinvigorating this famous genre of Balinese art. Both artists possess a rare talent, while Budiarta’s works, one with powerful surrealistic elements, are especially outstanding.

street-art-by-ego-a-k-a-made-aji-aswino                                   Street Art by Ego, a.k.a Made Aji Aswino

This event is organized by Kemal Ezedine, one of the founding members along with Gede Mahahendra Yasa of the new art movement, the Neo Pitamaha. The Neo Pitamaha is an exciting development in Balinese contemporary art that has it ideology deeply rooted in the historical development of Balinese art during the past century, and began in 2013 with Mahendra Yasa, Ezedine (b.1978 Yogyakarta) and two other Balinese artists.

“We (the members of the Neo Pitamaha) have knowledge of history, culture, narratives and symbols within Balinese art yet we do not use this for our art discourse,” Ezedine says. “We aim to reinterpret this from a contemporary art perspective – retaining the principles involved with the techniques and methods. By opening this to new viewpoints we endeavor to awaken new spirit and introduce a fresh model of possibilities into Balinese art.”

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During the past 3 three years Ezedine and Mahendra Yasa have strategically set out to impact upon the Indonesian contemporary art scene participating in high level events in Java; exhibitions and art fairs in Bandung, Jakarta and Yogyakarta. Their presence was especially visible during August at the two international art fairs Art Stage Jakarta 2016 and 2016 Bazaar Art Jakarta.

A highlight of A Brutal Contrast of Concrete and Kamasan Painting opening was the palpable atmosphere that graced the event. A rare buzz of excitement was alive within the venue adding a fresh dimension to the already extraordinary event.

wayan-budiarta                                   Painting by Wayan Budiarta

Throughout the history of Indonesian art, artist’s collectives have played an essential role in shaping Indonesian modern and contemporary art. The art/anti colonial collectives that evolved last century in Java (PERSAGI 1938, POETERA 1942) played defining roles in the pro nationalism movement, while importantly using art as propaganda. In Bali the importance of organized art communities cannot be overstated.

There some key factors that give birth to art movements and the Neo Pitamaha have already succeeded in striking important targets, along with capturing a lot of attention in the Indonesian art capital of Jakarta. What remains next will play a defining role. One vital element within their ideology involves an important, yet tragic story of one of the true pioneers of Balinese art who was murdered by pro Dutch sympathizers in Batuan in 1946.

This is an anti establishment story.

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Cahyendra Putra and the Neo Pitamaha Invite You To: A Brutal Contrast of Concrete and Kamasan Painting was a part of the 2016 UWRF Art Exhibitions program and is listed in the UWRF Program Book on page 40, as Bali Underground: Pita Maha And Rudolf Bonnet. It was located on Jalan Raya Campuhan, opposite the Campuhan Hotel, upstairs on level 2 of the building that on the ground floor is a Notaris office. Look for the stairway and then head up.

Continuing through until 30 October, open daily 09:00 – 17:00.

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Words & Images: Richard Horstman