Tag Archives: Indonesian Tribal Art

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

Balinese photographer: Ida Bagus Putra Adnayna

IB Putra Adnayana, "Kijang Kencana" photograph. image by Richard Horstman                                             “Kijang Kencana” 2015- Gustra

 

In the 1920’s the first ever collection of black and white photographs of Bali were published in two volumes. In the previous century, however, Dutch colonialist began documenting the island and images began to trickle through to a select, and curious European audience. In the current era of digital media saturation, iconic images of Bali remain potent, increasingly inspiring new visitors to the island.

13235681_1028862560484673_6337521818375183207_o                                  Ida Bagus Putra Adnayana – Image by Aimery Jossel

Over time, layer-by-layer outsiders have been exposed to riches of the unique Balinese Hindu culture. One photographer, Ida Bagus Putra Adnyana, from a Brahmana priest family, the highest caste of the Balinese social structure, is able to reveal rare digital insights into one of the most fascinating of local worlds. Gustra, as he his known, brings insider’s knowledge of his subjects, and is often granted access to rare ritual ceremonies to photograph with the greatest possible intimacy. While some of these images may appear strange, even shocking and absurd to Western eyes, he allows us a window into what is rarely documented in Bali.

14102683_10205236450791241_5022309772937099000_n                                            “Jazz in Watercolor” 2016 – Gustra

October heralds the release of Gustra’s most recent photo essay “Bali – Ancient Rites In The Digital Age”, with complimenting text by renowned cultural wordsmith Diana Darling. The books aims to bring clarity to of some of the extraordinary Balinese religious rituals that to the foreigner appear visually rich, and complex, yet there meaning remains obscure. The personal portfolio of work captured between 2011-2015, along with an array of imagery, features ceremonial scenes from remote East Bali, ancient and authentic, yet different to what we may witness in the local regency of Gianyar.

DSCF5041                                             “Melasti, Titian Batin” 2016 – Gustra

Including close up investigation of the rituals, along with specific notes made on location by Gustra, “Bali – Ancient Rites In The Digital Age” features extraordinary images, for example of the initiation of a high priest involving the priest licking the foot of his teacher in a symbolic gesture of the transformation of knowledge and power from guru to pupil. Published by BAB Publishing Indonesia the book will access a global audience via the large distribution and retail networks, available throughout the English speaking Western world along with many parts of Asia, Japan and the Pacific. Leading producers of luxury coffee table books BAB’s specialized topics are Indonesian art & crafts, textiles, cultural icons, important historical periods, culinary delights, world heritage sites and landscape explorations.

13873132_10205043219000567_1624006535072031249_n                                               Porkemon Octorobo” 2016 – Gustra

A self-taught photographer, born 1958 in Denpasar, Gustra first studied law yet in 1984 he committed to devoting his energy full time to photography, soon becoming an in demand professional, and successfully forging a noted career. He switched from analog to digital photography in 2000. Having regularly exhibited in Bali and Jakarta, as well as in Frankfurt and Japan, he has won many prizes, as well as his photographs being published internationally in numerous books and periodicals. Gustra has the distinction of winning the “Tourist Motif” competition for three years in a row, award by the Governor of Bali (1985-87).

14067483_10205173043846107_3216264810710224529_n                                            Balinese Rituals for the Deceased- Gustra

Having published two books in his own right, while being a photo contributor to 7 international books, some of the most delightful cultural albums published in Indonesia and Singapore feature Gustra’s detailed lens work. He has work with the most respected and sort after authorities in the fields of fine art, antiques, history and culture, such as Dr. Adrian Vickers, Bruce Carpenter and Jean Couteau. Carpenter’s magnificent 2015 “Indonesian Tribal Art” book, and “Inventing Art: The Paintings of Batuan, Bali by Bruce Gransquist are testaments to Gustra’s work.

DSCF5053                                              “Gue R Nika, Ilusi Kubisme” 2016 – Gustra

Subjects of beauty and power of Gustra’s culture have for many years been at the center of his attention. He has photographed most of the leading cultural identities in Bali, his black and white portraits capturing sensitive and revealing moments of his subjects. Recently, however he has delved into image experimentation utilizing modern technology and working in front of his large computer screen.

13975316_10205124559274023_2967428382373196208_o                                                          Digital Image by Gustra 2016

Gustra’s solo exhibition, 14-22 May at the Bentara Budaya Bali Cultural Center in Ketewel, “Citra Nyata. Tak Nyata, 3 Rupa Dalam 3 Dasawarsa” (Images Real, Not Real, 3 Types of         Forms in 30 Years) highlighted an array of work in various styles and themes, as well as some of his digital art photography, some works had an extra dimension decorated with dynamic hues of acrylic paint. “Kijang Kencana” 2015, a black and white composition of duality, tension and impending danger juxtaposed a beautiful maiden with a mighty demon, while “Gue R Nika, Illusi Kubisme” 2016, a black and white marvel of inter locking human and animal forms rendered via Photoshop and inspired by the Cubism art movement, were some of the highlights.

DSCF5047                                                    Tutur Borobudur” 2009 – Gustra

Constantly interacting with the finest creative minds he meets, both locals and foreigners in the essential dialogue, Gustra is highly active on Facebook. As a senior photographer he plays an important role in educating the young, growing local community of photographers. He posts articles on unusual and talented international photographers, interesting media documentations, competitions, and articles offering tips and inspiration to others. Committed to sharing, and passing on his knowledge, Gustra is well aware that Bali is a crucial and exciting transition of change, and most importantly in the development of much-needed art infrastructure.

14202636_10205207272461801_8364529270273662164_n                                                                 Image by Gustra 2016

“In Bali there are photographers who succeed via competitions, or through business. Often others follow the competition winner’s style, or themes and then trends develop. Not many have the talent and dedication to succeed in the art world and sometimes the young artists have boarders. They must be very brave and believe in their dreams, work hard and be open to, and work with many people, locals and foreigners, in order to learn and improve,” Gustra said.

DSCF5037                                                            “Hati-Hati” 2016 – Gustra

“They must exhibit in big events and within big venues in order to gain more exposure and eventually support from the public, along with the needed media attention. Special management is required to co ordinate events and projects. There are many young and talented photographers in Bali, however to support the development of photography we need generous patrons as the production costs are higher than other art forms.”

Words: Richard Horstman

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“Kecantikan Deha Bungaya, Karangasem” 2016 – Gustra

 

http://www.gustraphotobali.com