Tag Archives: Crossing: Beyond Baliseering

Aswino Aji’s artistic observations of the ego in the face of the Balinese culture

Artist Made Aswino Aji & "Doors of Perception" Image R. HorstmanBalinese contemporary artist Made Aswino Aji and his work “Doors of Perception”

 

An acute sense of observation is an essential talent for a contemporary artist. The ability to scrutinize and reflect on one’s own conduct and thoughts, along with that of the collective, is a doorway to art rich in meaning.

For more than a decade Balinese artist Made Aji Aswino has been an avid onlooker and critic of the human character and behavior, especially what he has witnessed within his own society. His sketches, paintings, sculptures and installations focus upon the pitfalls of the human ego.

Painting by Made Aswino Aji Image R Horstman                                   Painting by Made Aswino Aji

 

Initially his paintings were dark and moody depictions featuring a central figure with an elongated nose that made reference to the tale of Pinocchio. A fictional character and the protagonist of the children’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio written in 1883 in Italy by Carlo Collodi, then brought to life in popular culture in the 1940’s by Walt Disney, the tale describes when the child, Pinocchio, tells a lie, his nose consequently grows. Aswino Aji utilizes Pinocchio as a metaphor for the human condition, because, says the artist, “We often tell lies, and bend the truth.”

During the landmark 2013 exhibition “Irony In Paradise” by the Balinese art collective Sanggar Dewata Indonesia (SDI) at Ubud’s Agung Rai Museum of Art, Aswino Aji exhibited an eye-catching and imaginative sculpture that was highly critical of his Balinese culture. He adopted the topic that had been the focus of his paintings and sketches, this, however, was his first thematic venture within the 3 dimensional form.

Made Aswino Aji, "Under the Shades 2", 2013, mixed media                             Under the Shade, 2013 – Made Aswino Aji

 

Under the Shade” featured the head of a Pinocchio like-figure carved from wood with a long nose extending out and upwards to form the pedestal for a Balinese religious ceremonial umbrella, which was positioned above his head. A controversial work, such direct criticisms of the local culture are rarely seen within Balinese art. When commenting about the work Aswino Aji said, “Many Balinese Hindu people live under the shade of their own culture while behaving contrary to its philosophies.”

In the most important international exhibition of Balinese contemporary art in 2016 that showcased the finest emerging talent of Bali, “Crossing: Beyond Baliseering, held in December at FortyFive Downstairs Gallery in Melbourne, Australia, Aswino Aji exhibited the monumental wood carving installation, “Doors of Perception”. Spanning four meters wide, by two and half meters high, his representation of a traditional doorway into a Balinese house created over a six-month period. It featured eerie figurines and faces of monsters that are his representations of the darker elements of the ego. Included also were some of the typical iconography to be found in traditional Balinese carvings.

Detail of "Doors of Perception" Made Aswino Aji. Photo R. Horstman                                 Detail of “Doors of Perception”

 

The vibrantly painted creatures adorned the work along with his Pinocchio character – a reflection on the pretensions and lies of everyday Balinese society the artist witnesses.The dynamic colours of the outside of the entrance represented varieties of ‘disorderly’ human personalities, while the inner side of “Doors of Perception” reflected life’s dualities, painted in subdued monochromes and representing the ‘peaceful’ personalities.

Ego Invasion”, 2018, Aswino Aji’s most recent installation is themed upon the candi (Balinese temple gates) and is a commissioned art work for Soundrenaline – Soul of Expression GWK Bali, 8-9 September 2018, a music and youth cultural event held at the GWK Cultural Park in Jimbaran. Created within a whirlwind one-month period at his studio, Aswino Aji employed wood carvers from his family in Silakarang village, Gianyar to help carve the icons and build the structure. With dimensions measuring over three meters high by three meters wide, one of the strengths of this work was in its design, engineered to be simply and quickly dismantled and reinstalled.

Detail of "Doors of Perception" Image R. Horstman                                   Detail of “Doors of Perception”

 

According to the Balinese Hindu belief system outside the temple the ego is free to be expressed with individual autonomy, once a person passes through the temple gates, however, the ego must be disciplined and restrained. This practice, according to the artist, is being ignored. “The ego can be our greatest enemy, or our dearest friend. In daily life man often plays with his ego, its dualities can be mutually supportive,” Aswino Aji says. “Sometimes the ego’s self righteousness dominates, while other times it remains hidden away. In my minds eye the ego is a monster – man is a monster!”

Born in 1977 in Silakarang, Aswino Aji is the son of the wood carver, renowned contemporary artist and gallerist Wayan Sika. Following in his father’s footsteps he studied fine art at ISI Yogyakarta, the Indonesian Institute of Art in Central Java, were he resided for five years. Aswino Aji has taken authentic motifs, patterns and forms from traditional architecture and sculpture and has presented them within the contemporary art realm, while making relevant social statements. In doing so he has made new inroads in Balinese woodcarving and an important contribution to the development of Balinese contemporary art.

"Ego Invasion" 2018 Made Aswino Aji. Photo R. Horstman                             “Ego Invasion”, 2018 – Made Aswino Aji

 

"Ego Invasion" 2018 Made Aswino Aji. Image R. Horstman                                   Detail of “Ego Invasion”

 

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Photos: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

 

 

 

CROSSING: Beyond Baliseering

20161206_173640
Narasi Menunngu Lahiran (The Anticipation of Giving Birth) 2016 –  Made ‘Dalbo’ Suarimbawa, in the foreground, background: The Fireflies #1 2016 – Budi Agung Kuswara

 

Bali holds a special place within the hearts of many Australians and while Balinese traditional art has long been recognized as an international icon, Australian audiences however, know little, or nothing about contemporary art from Bali.

As a platform for understanding contemporary Balinese and Indonesian culture, and maintaining a cultural bridge between Indonesia and Australia, Crossing: Beyond Baliseering, a group showing of emerging contemporary artists from Bali opened 6 December at FortyFive Downstairs Gallery in Melbourne.

doors-of-perception-made-aswino-aji                                  Doors of Perception 2016 –  Made Aswino Aji

Crossing: Beyond Baliseering reflects upon Bali’s visual and social culture while exploring themes of personal life experiences, environmental, social and political issues in the contemporary society, showcasing a range of paintings, photography, sculptures, and large-scale installations by some of the finest artists in Bali.

Presented by Project 11 as part of Multicultural Arts Victoria’s Asian contemporary arts festival Mapping Melbourne 2016, the exhibition features work by Art of Whatever, Made Aji Aswino, Budi Agung Kuswara, Citra Sasmita, Kemal Ezedine, Made ‘Dalbo’ Suarimbawa, Natisa Jones, Slinat, Made Valasara, Wayan Upadana and Yoesoef Olla.

20160913_121758                                 Let’s Play Series #2 2016  – YoesoefOlla

The policy of ‘Baliseering’ was first introduced in the 1920’s by the Dutch colonial government to train locals to continue the traditional arts of dance, theater, painting, sculpture and literature. Visually, this meant that art portrayed scenes of the Balinese in cultural activities and ‘authentic’ settings that became fastened in the Balinese art identity through the media and tourism.

Attended by members of Melbourne’s Indonesian community along with the local art community, FortyFive Downstairs Gallery, situated in the inner city gallery precinct, was full with enthusiastic art lovers during the opening.  While warmly welcoming the foreign artist’s, many of the audience engaged deeply with both the artists and their artworks.

20161206_171049                                 Mea Vulva, Maxima Vulva 2016  –  Citra Sasmita’s

Made Aji Aswino is an avid critic of Indonesian and Balinese society, focusing especially upon the pitfalls of the human ego. Aji exhibited a monumental two-sided wood craving installation, Doors of Perception 2016, 250 x 300 x 80 cm, a representation of a candi (traditional Balinese temple entry). The outside of the entry features craved figurines and faces of ego monsters, along with typical iconography to be found in Balinese wood cravings.

Vibrantly painted figures adorn the work with long conical noses echoing a Pinocchio-like-character – a reflection on the pretensions and lies of everyday society the artist witnesses. The dynamic colors of the outside of the entrance represent varieties of ‘disorderly’ personalities, while the inner side of Doors of Perception reflects duality, painted in subdued monochrome representing the ‘peaceful’ personalities.

baliseering-kemal-ezedine                                         Baliseering 2016 – KemalEzedine

Kemal Ezedine presents Baliseering 2016, 180x 300 cm, a mixed media narration about the influence of the Dutch Colonial government in shaping the political identity of Bali. His colorful mixed media work  combines and layers the techniques of a traditional Indonesian painting method adapted from European practices alia prima, or the direct painting technique, with graphic techniques inspired by Balinese scared drawings, and Indonesian social realism art. The results are a dynamic composition layered with technical and philosophical meanings.

One of Bali’s most well-known emerging artists Wayan Upadana exhibited three excellent works, Globalisation Euphoria 2010 features a chocolate covered Rangda reclining in a white bath tub, while Glo(BABI)sation 2013 a chocolate coated pig relaxing in a modern kitchen sink. Si Gendut Pencari Tuhan (Fatty the God Seeker) 2013 on the other hand features a Barong masks attached to a fat naked body sitting in the lotus position. Upadana makes critical social references while adapting icons of the Balinese culture in his polyester resin works that are technically and conceptually strong.

20161206_171301           Si Gendut Pencari Tuhan (Fatty the God Seeker) 2013 – Wayan Upadana

Two dimensional works featuring contrasting images of iconic Bali are presented by Budi Agung Kuswara, The Fireflies # 1&2, 2016, Golden Farmer, 2016, both cyanotype (photogram) and pigment prints on archival paper provide strong aesthetic impacts while being interesting departures in media adaptation and technical skills. Natisa Jones exhibits two engaging abstract figurative compositions that reflect on identity, while Made Valasara presents his signature canvas relief works that break with the conventions of Balinese traditional painting.

 Pantaggruelisme 2016 utilizes polyethylene terephthalate stuffed in canvas, while in The True Portion of David 2014 Valasara uses laminated canvas. Adopting the canvas as a standalone medium, along with sewing techniques, he layers and fills the canvas to create 3 dimensional embossed, or as in The True Portion of David debossed compositions.

20161206_172001                                 The True Portion of David 2014 – Valasara

Art of Whatever’s Everyday is Sunday 2016 invites people to sit, relax and reflect upon his functional art creation.  The colorful three meter couch shaped into a reclining figure with tentacles for a head, along with matching helmets were popular with the audience, many opting to loll and engage in the light-hearted art experience.

Yoeseof Olla Let’s Play Series # 1,2&3 2016, features three leather wall hangings, compositions in permanent marker that combine pop and street art imagery that parodies the popular international perception of Islam and the burqa wearing Muslim women.

One of the strongest works in the exhibition is Narasi Menunngu Lahiran (The Anticipation of Giving Birth) 2016, a sculptural mother and child representation by Made ‘Dalbo’ Suarimbawa. During recent years Dalbo has been experimenting with paper upon his two-dimensional compositions, Narasi Menunngu Lahiran however reveals his greater commitment to technical skill and concept in this enthralling installation that reveals incredible attention to details and defines him as an artist of unique talent.

20160911_160047                                 Everyday is Sunday 2016  – Art of Whatever

Citra Sasmita’s works make strong statements about gender politics within the patriarchal Balinese society. Always confronting, Citra exhibits three works, two paintings and one installation, Mea Vulva, Maxima Vulva 2016 that features ceramic vagina’s within a set of scales and comments upon social class distinctions.

Street artist Slinat (Silly in Art) presents a poignant and intriguing installation Ironic, Ironic Island 2016 that features his signature gas masked figures upon wooden windows and doors adopting imagery from iconic paintings by Abdul Aziz. He contrasts Bali’s exotic and peaceful international tourism marketing identity with current social and economic issues that are currently confronting the people of Bali.

20161206_173918                                   Ironic, Ironic Island 2016 – Slinat

Crossing: Beyond Baliseering

Continues through 17 December 2016,

FortyFive Downstairs Gallery

45 Flinder’s Lane, Melbourne.

Open: Tuesday – Friday 11am – 5pm

Saturday 12pm – 4pm

+613 9662 9966

20161206_170438                                    Sitting at Home 2014 – Natisa Jones

Words & Images: Richard Horstman