Tag Archives: Jim Supangkat

Made Djirna – soul mining

Installation at Djirna's studio.                     Installation by Made Djirna at his Ubud studio, 2017

Exploring Balinese artist Made Djirna’s cavernous studio conjures up notions of a journey into a mysterious inner sanctum that is vibrant and fascinating, yet is equally as powerful and confronting.

A collector of all manner of cultural artifacts, naturally formed shapes and unusual objects, which he then converts into intriguing installations, typically, Djirna’s lively yet simplified and raw figures reflect the primitive tribal arts. He constructs enormous “shrines and altars” from old timber, crude sculptures and rocks, complete with fire, coloured light,  and abstract painted deities that are infused with a sense of ritual and resonate with spiritual energy.

Installation by Made Djirna, mixed media, various dimensions. 2012.Image Richard Horstman.JPGInstallation by Made Djirna exhibited in “Ubud 1963, (Re) Reading The Growth of Made Djirna”, at the National Gallery in Jakarta. 24th November – 5th December 2012.

Within the National Gallery of Indonesia, Djirna recreates the unique essence of his studio by placing his installations within small rooms and in confined corners. He allows the audience an insight into the creative world of one Indonesia’s finest contemporary artists.

“My concern is to express reflections that go far deeper than what we can know with our panca indra (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin). All of my work is a process that goes hand in hand with the demands of my soul. It is essentially a spiritual process taking visible pictorial shape,” Djirna.

'Benang Merah Bali - Basel" (The Red Thread From Bali to Basel) Made Djirna. 1993, mixed media on canvas, 145 x 245cm..JPG     Benang Merah Bali (the red thread from Bali to Basel) – Made Djirna, 1993

A versatile artist who loves to experiment with new materials, techniques and styles, from 2010 onwards Djirna reinterpreted his method of producing his paintings and the new works were highlighted in his exhibition Ubud 1963, (Re) Reading The Growth of Made Djirna, at the National Gallery of Indonesia, in Jakarta. The exhibition ran from 24 November through to 5 December 2012.

In this, Djirna’s eighth solo, retrospective exhibition, observers may take a brief sojourn through his creative development and witness the metamorphosis he has undergone. Mengenang Piramid (To Reminisce About the Pyramid),1994 and Kabut Hitam (Black Fog) 1994, are memoirs of his childhood experience of 1963. Both paintings are rendered in darkened acrylic hues with traces of red and white. These bleak abstract works convey anxiety and distress, evident in the facial expression in Piramid and the tension created by vigorously scored details into the body of the work. Kabut suggests architectural objects overcome by thick black clouds and bright red denotes volcanic flows and the horror of such a scenario.

"Wajah Wajah Mengambang" (Floating Faces) Made Djirna, 2008, oil on canvas, 295 x 380cm.      Wajah Wajah Mengambang (Floating Faces) – Made Djirna, 2008

Within his curatorial essay, senior Indonesian curator Jim Supangkat began by describing the extraordinary events of 1963 that had a catastrophic impact on Bali, as well as shaping the formative years of a young Djirna who was living just north of Ubud. Mount Agung in East Bali, the islands spiritual pinnacle, began its process of tremors in January, volcanic eruptions started in March and again in May and tremors then continued until its final blast in January 1964. This was an unprecedented year with extensive infrastructure damage, crop failures, wide-spread famines and many deaths, while also putting an immediate halt to tourism in Bali.

Born in Kedewatan, Ubud in 1957 Djirna was just 6 years old at the time of this event. He later went on to graduate from the Faculty of Fine Art and Design at the ISI (Indonesian Institute of Art) Yogyakarta in 1985 and spent 10 years living in the cultural capital of Java. He actively exhibits his works locally and internationally and is a member of the respected SDI, Sanggar Dewata Indonesia association of modern artists.

"Gajah Genit" (flirty Elephant) Made Djirna. 2012, mixed media on canvas, 260x400cm..JPG          “Gajah Genit” (Flirty Elephant), 260 x 400 cm, 2012 – Made Djirna

Among Djirna’s captivating new works exhibited in the National Gallery, Gajah Genit (Flirty Elephant), 260 x 400 cm, serves as a metaphor of a power crisis in the face of change. Djirna communicates the damages inflicted by power and domination via deforestation. Posing in jest, the “flirty elephant” stands confidently in defiance. Yet also he depicts a ruler’s demise by placing the image of a vulture on the elephant’s head.  He also symbolizes the dawn of a new era by depicting a dove on a stump of a tree. This intelligent work in rich blues, reds and greens is infused with humor that helps to resolve the seriousness of the alarming reality we face.

Upon his mixed media canvases of huge proportions (up to 350 x 400 cm) Djirna first applies a thick base of texture into which he scores his vast narratives, then adds color in rich metallic paint and finally contains all the characters within black lines. In a style reminiscent of the traditional Balinese paintings with the narrative covering the complete expanse of canvas, Djirna’s works take on modern narratives and issues that for the artist are very close to home.

Metamorfosis-2012      Metamorfosis (Metamorphosis), 260 x 400 cm, 2012 – Made Djirna

His recent use of metallic paints adds a wonderful luminous dimension, particularly when highlighted by artificial lighting. They are aesthetically spectacular not only because of the dynamic coloration, yet the scale of the works simply overwhelms. Some have taken Djirna more than 4 months to complete.

In Metamorfosis (Metamorphosis), 2012, 260 x 400 cm, two lovers embrace in the forest surrounded by hundreds of brightly colored butterflies, on the trunks of the trees are numerous large caterpillars. What may appear to be a simplistic narrative denoting change reveals the reality that life is full of paradoxes. Butterflies are natures symbol of grace, yet they become caterpillars which are destructive and are seen as pests. This is a creation of wonder and beauty, and it is here that Djirna’s brilliance shines through.

DSCF4366Installation by Made Djirna in the exhibition, “The Logic of Ritual” at Sangkring Art Gallery, Yogyakarta, 2013.

During his July, 2013 exhibition at Sangkring Art Space in Yogyakarta Djirna was prepared to bring his religion under close scrutiny. His paintings and installations in The Logic of Ritual were protests against numerous ritual practices, whose meaning, according to the artist, is now driven by modern and commercial practices.

Djirna criticises the consumption of money (his works utilise a countless number of Chinese coins used in Balinese rituals) in direct relation to the demands of Balinese Hindu religious rituals that are becoming increasingly glamorous, luxurious and festive. Such demands, while indeed granting communion between the devotee, the spirit world and Gods, may be perceived as rigid mechanisms, ultimately keeping the ‘little people’ poor.

He dedicated his exhibition to the plight of the impoverished of Bali, who suffer in silence while paying excessively for offerings and rituals that demand perfection both in the materials and presentation.

Djirna -the magic of ritual .jpg               The Logic of Ritual – Made Djirna, 2013

Djirna was invited to participate in the landmark 2016 Singapore Biennale – An Everywhere of Mirrorings at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM). His installation – Melampaui Batas (Beyond Boundaries) 2016, seeked to transcend the boundaries between the interior and the exterior, the microcosm and the macrocosm, along with the spiritual and the physical planes.

A fusion of different elements, it featured found objects, 1000 terracotta figurines representing humanity (the fragility of clay signifying the precarious nature of life), an antique traditional ironwood boat from Sulawesi –symbolic of journeying between Nusantara and the larger world and the worlds of the living and dead (in Balinese belief the boat carries the soul to its ancestral abode after death). Positioned in the corners of the room, large trees constructed from driftwood – its trunks and branches, some with crude primitive figure scribed into the wood, suggest fragments of other lives, cultures and civilizations.

Made Djirna "Melampaui Batas" 2016 Singpore Biennale .jpgMelampaui Batas (Beyond Boundaries) 2016 – Made Djirna, Singapore Biennale – An Everywhere of Mirrorings at the Singapore Art Museum.

The artist’s earlier works are categorized by naïve figurative and abstract expressions often rendering thick chunks of paint to create ambiguous forms with faces that reveal the darker emotions of the human experience. His strong earthy figures are a reminder of the past when life was simpler and with a greater connection to the environment.

What has remained consistent throughout Djirna’s career is his sense of unity within the collective experience and importance of the personal process while learning to endure the dualities of life.

“Through the personal development that is achieved by the inward journey of self-discovery, compassion, understanding and healing, we gain wisdom and strength. These are the tools which will support us during the journey of life.” Made Djirna’s expressions are intimate, honest and expose the heartfelt emotions of the human experience. They convey a profound sense of authenticity.

Djirna is currently working on a large installation for the Jakarta Biennale in November 2017.

Rimba-2011                        Rimba, 2011 – Made Djirna

Mixed Media on board, 210x70cm, 2007.                Installation by Made Djirna at his Ubud studio, 2007

DSCF4389.JPG                  Painting from The Logic of Ritual – Made Djirna, 2013

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

Mangu Putra: Between History and the Quotidian

mangu-putra-2016-puputan-badung-the-fall-of-badung-kingdom-2-oil-on-canvas-370-x-150-cm                     Puputan Badung #2, 2016 (The Fall of the Badung Kingdom)

After a wait of six years Bali’s most important painter Agung Mangu Putra has followed on from Teater Rakyat (People Theater), his landmark 2010 exhibition at Galeri Nasional Indonesia, Jakarta.

Mangu Putra: Between History and the Quotidian opened at Singapore’s Gajah Gallery 25 November, featuring nine paintings made between 2013 – 2016. Renowned for his technical abilities, and his commitment to environmental, social and historical themes that trigger deep sentiments, Mangu Putra’s hyper realism style communicates important narratives that ignite potent emotions.

mangu-putra-2015-puputan-badung-the-fall-of-badung-kingdom-1906-oil-on-canvas-190x390-cm                    Puptan Badung #1, 2015 (The Fall of the Kingdom of Badung)

Spiritual Landscapes, Mangu Putra’s 2005 solo exhibition in Gajah Gallery was an offering of gratitude to the landscape of his homeland, and his Balinese Hindu culture, paying homage via dramatic monochrome compositions that reflect his deep sense of spirituality. In Teater Rakyat (People Theater) Mangu Putra’s critical social commentary came to the fore. He focused upon the marginalized within the Balinese society, people from the economically destitute regions of Bali, female gender politics, the forgotten Independence War veterans who bravely confronted the KNIL Dutch forces between 1945-49.

In Between History and the Quotidian Mangu Putra continues his research and discovery into critical Dutch colonial events that shaped Indonesian and Balinese history. Puputan Badung 1906 (The Fall of Badung Kingdom # 1, 2 &3) 2016, 2016 & 2014 have been “pieced together” from archival accounts and images sourced from the internet into enormous compositions ranging in size up 190 x 390 cm. Telling the story of the Dutch colonial army’s confrontation with the Kingdom of Badung in Kesiman, Denpasar in 1906 that resulted in the tragic puputan event (act of ritual suicide).

mangu-putra-2015-puputan-badung-the-fall-of-badung-kingdom-3-oil-on-linen-200-x-154-cm                         Puptan Badung #3, 2014 (The Fall of the Kingdom of Badung)

Jim Supangkat in the exhibition catalogue writes, “Mangu Putra never translates exact copies of those photographs into his works, instead he sometimes manipulates several photos and incorporates them into his paintings.”

The painting tells the story of the Dutch colonial army’s confrontation with the Kingdom of Badung in Kesiman, Denpasar in 1906, that resulted in the tragic puputan event (act of ritual suicide) when the Balinese rulers chose to fight to the death rather than surrender.

The Fall of Badung Kingdom # 2, 2016 reveals senior officials of the Dutch army seated behind the body of the Raja of Badung, I Gusti Ngurah Made Agung, in a post puputan pose, a reconstruction of possible events. Mangu Putra positions the Raja’s throne next to his prostrate body as a symbolic gesture.

mangu-putra-2016-adu-jago-1947-oil-on-linen-200-x-200-cm                                        Adu Jago, 2016 (Cock Fight)

“Mangu Putra does not reproduce reality as with other realistic paintings, but paints his account of the light’s reflection,” said Supangkat of Mangu Putra’s technique.

“The resulting image is a textured realistic painting, with apparent contrasting effects caused by the beam of light on the painted surface. The aesthetic qualities present in his works – lines, textures, contrast effects – as a result permeate a narrative filled story on his canvases.”

mangu-putra-2016-dalam-pengawasan-kolonial-200-x-200-cm-oil-on-linen           Dalam Pengawasan Kolonial, 2016 (Under Colonial Supervision)

“Mangu Putra, like many of Bali’s modern and contemporary artists, was trained in Yogyakarta at Indonesia’s premier art school, ISI, the Institute Seni Indonesia,” states Professor of Southeast Asian History Adrian Vickers in the exhibition catalogue.

“Unlike many others who emerged through painting, Mangu Putra was trained in graphic arts and design, and his original career was in advertising. The sensibilities he developed in presenting the mundane to the world meant that he is attuned to the effect power of images. He turned to problems of how such images should be made to work in the world in a more critical fashion.”

In Eksekusi Letda Reta (Execution of Letda Reta), 2014, Mangu Putra depicts the execution of his uncle I Gusti Agung Alit Reta, who along with his father both fought in the Independence War, Alit Reta being captured and later executed by the Dutch. In the painting he appropriates the style of Francisco Goya’s The Third of May (1814) – which depicts a death sentence served on a rebel farmer by a Spanish firing squad. Here Mangu Putra imagines the moment of his uncle’s execution as one of defiance.

mangu-putra-2014-eksekusi-letda-reta-oil-on-canvas-190-x-290-cm                            Eksekusi Letda Reta (Execution of Letda Reta), 2014

Adu Jago (Cock Fight) 2016 reveals a scene where Dutch troops and Balinese are watching a cock-fight. One roaster yells to the other: “Are you ready to surrender?” The other responds: “I am not going to retreat.” According to Supangkat the universal message in this painting, along with Eksekusi Letda Reta is that the concept of authority is a threat that has never subsided, though the power behind that authority may always change.

In Transit? 2016 Mangu Putra reveals an extremely interesting, yet little known story within the history of the Dutch East Indies of a Germany aircraft, with swastika emblems, that flew from Brandenberg, Germany to Medan, Sumatra, Batavia, Surabaya and landed in Buleleng, Bali 7 January 1938.

“Photographs contain layers of narratives, and within these there are always hidden meanings that I am driven to delve into,” said Mangu Putra.

mangu-putra-2016-transit-oil-on-canvas-390x190-cm                                              Transit? 2016

“Mangu Putra is not a historian, yet his intuition is sharp in detecting these milestones in history. He feels that these phenomenal milestones are substantial to further the research on the connection between Indonesian and world history, writes Supangkat in summing up his essay titled “Identity Politics” in the exhibition catalogue, and later continues,

“Indonesian history still requires the pursuit of historical examination, so that history doesn’t become a myth of the present,”

Both Mangu Putra’s investigation along with Jim Supangkat’s accompanying essay are important documentations of a crucial era of the nation’s history and collectively combine into one of the most important Indonesian contemporary art exhibitions in recent history.

mangu-putra-2016-menjelang-merdeka-acrylic-on-linen-70x80cm                       Menjelang Merdeka, 2016 (Towards Freedom)

Mangu Putra: Between History and the Quotidian

25 November – 11 December 2016.

Gajah Gallery Singapore

 

Words: Richard Horstman

 

National Gallery Singapore Presenting and Archiving Indonesian Art

Farah Wardani. Image courtesy of NGSAssistant Director of the National Gallery Singapore Resource Center Indonesian Art Historian Farah Wardani. Image Courtesy NGS

A meeting point for major civilizations, religions and colonial powers, Southeast Asian art has experienced a turbulent social and political history defined by a complex relationship between local traditions and influences from the West. Open from November 2015, the National Gallery Singapore (NGS) oversees the world’s largest public collection of modern Southeast Asian art.

Boasting over 8,000 works including paintings, sculptures, printmaking, photography and video from the 19th and 20th centuries, housed in two immaculately restored and transformed national monuments – the former Singapore Supreme Court and City Hall – the NGS works together with international museums to jointly present Southeast Asian art in the global context.

bosch-brand-forest-fire-raden-saleh-1849-ngs-uob-souteast-asia-gallery-image-richard-horstman               “Bosch Brand” (Forest Fire) 1849  – Radan Saleh, National Gallery Singapore

Two exhibitions currently running at the NGS highlight Indonesian art. “Between Declaration & Dreams: Art of South East Asia Since the 19th Century” features nearly 400 artworks (over 90 by Indonesians) in the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery. The exhibition brings together the defining art movements and styles in the development of Indonesian modern art. From the “grandfather of modernism” Raden Saleh (1811-1880), featuring his 1839 composition “Wounded Lion”, to the “pretty pictures” Mooi Indies landscape genre that prevailed until early in the 20th Century.

Sudjojono (1913-1986) and friends next challenged the paradigm with a new nationalist style while banding together in the collective, PERSAGI (Persatuan Ahli Ahli Gambar Indonesia, 1938). The exhibition continues with the likes of Affandi, Hendra Gunawan, Walter Spies, and A.A Gede Meregeg to the 1970’s avant garde with the iconic work from the Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru movement, “Ken Dedes” by Jim Supangkat (1975 remade in 1996), and the 1993 video documentation by Krisna Murti,”12 Hours in the Life of Agung Rai the Dancer.”

ken-dedes-jim-supangkat-1975-remade-1996-image-richard-horstman                         “Ken Dedes” 1975 – Jim Supangkat, National Gallery Singapore

In the Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery “Reframing Modernism”, open from 31 March- 17 July, was the NGS’s first international collaboration, with the Center Pompidou of Paris. The history of modernism is a story of influence: that artistic movements developed in Europe and America and then spread to the rest of the world. The landmark exhibition focuses on the practices of individual artists in the West and Southeast Asia and how they can be connected to one another.

Drawing on over 200 iconic works exhibiting side-by-side are Kandinsky, Matisse, Picasso and Chagall, to name a few, along with Indonesian masters including Lempad, Sobrat, Sudjojono, Affandi and Hendra Gunawan. Labeled as ambitious exposition by some foreign critics, this is a unique opportunity to engage with some of the master works of modern art, complimented by the presence of Indonesians, and is an essential insight into modern art development. Emphasis was given to the architect-cum-artist icon Lempad (1862-1975), whose line sketches revolutionized Balinese art, and the mysterious, pioneering female modernist Emiria Sunassa (b.1894 Nth Sulawesi – 1964). Dubbed an artist, nurse, princess, elephant hunter, plantation administrator, businesswoman and social activist, Sunassa began painting at the age of 40.

sculpture-by-edie-sunarso-painting-sudjojono-purusing-a-poster-1956-image-richard-horstman  Sculpture “The Head  of Monument for the Independence of West Irian”  – Edi Sunarso, National Gallery Singapore

While both exhibitions, presenting some of the finest local art with curatorial attention bringing it into greater context, in a world-class institution are a boon for Indonesia, it is the less publicized, archival projects occurring deep within the sanctum of NGS that will garner increasing international interest to Indonesian art, along with added value.

“People tend to see archives as merely a library, knowing its important, yet often taking them for granted,” said Farah Wardani (b.1975 Jakarta), who after 10 years as Director of IVAA (Indonesian Visual Art Archive center) in Yogyakarta was recruited to NGS as Assistant Director of the Resource Center to oversee building the archival inventory. “I am excited to be a part of this enormous NGS project, the first highly focused, professional effort to archive SE Asian and Indonesian art history with international standards. It’s a starting point,” she adds.

dscf5310      “Title Unkown” (Abstract in Orange) 1968 – Ahmad Sadali, National Gallery Singapore

“Setting up the fundamentals of Indonesian art history involves the digitization of information, so we partner up, mostly with artist’s families, then sort through photo albums, diaries, catalogues and interviews, often finding the unimaginable,” Wardani revealed, having recently worked with the Sudjojono Center archiving almost 4000 items by the artist.

“Archiving requires great time and energy, yet the resources can be used in many different ways. Archives are artifacts that bring value by activating life into the artwork adding to the sustainability of the eco-system.”

“Archiving and database resources enable Indonesian art history to come out in the open,” Wardani said, commenting on what the project means for Indonesian art. “How many people actually study the masters of Indonesian art? It is still a niche art, a very unique subject, with a short and intense history. This is a wonderful opportunity for the international community to learn about more Indonesian art.”

dscf5163 “Mereka Yang Terusir Dari Tanahnya” (Those Chased Away From Their Land) 1960 – Amrus Natalsya, National Gallery Singapore

With the increasing engagement of Indonesia art and archival information and hence the relative growth in international appreciation, foreign institutions, curators, collectors and the curious will target the nation’s home grown art, ultimately benefiting the Indonesian art eco system in many ways, including financially.

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

dscf5153                      “Perusing A Poster” 1956 – Sudjojono, National Gallery Singapore

dscf5256                          “Pasar” 1943 – Emiria Sunassa, National Gallery Singapore

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