Tag Archives: Made Aswino Aji

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Bali: a stepping-stone to a sustainable art ecosystem

sri mulyana, heri pemad & triawan munaf during the official opening of art bali - image courtesy of art baliMinister of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia, Sri Mulyani, Head of BeKraf, Triawan Munif and Heri Pemad during the opening of Art Bali 9 October 2018

 

Under wraps Art Bali, a world- class presentation of contemporary art by 39 Balinese, Indonesian and foreign artists in Nusa Dua, closed 9 November. The most anticipated art exhibition in the island’s recent history, it was Bali’s first venture into a realm of global art events.

The origins of Art Bali is the synergy of a relationship beginning in 1998 when Heri Pemad, CEO and Founder of ArtJog, Indonesia’s flagship contemporary art fair that has evolved into one of the most colourful and unique events on the global art map, and Balinese artist I Made Aswino Aji, were students studying fine art in Yogyakarta.

"self portrait" - filippo sciascia 2018 mixed media image richard horstman                            Self Portrait, 2018 – Filippo Sciascia

 

Pemad and Aswino Aji’s discussions began more than 3 years ago laying the event’s conceptual foundations, the catalyst in Art Bali’s realization, however, was Pemad’s relationship with BEKRAF (Agency for Creative Economy Indonesia). The opportunity arose when BEKRAF Director Triawan Munaf presented Pemad the challenge of organizing a special event to coincide with the annual meeting of the IMF & World Bank held in Nusa Dua Bali, 6 – 19 October.

According to Pemad the Indonesian government was inspired to include an event within the IMF –World Bank side program, the meeting was attended by 34,000 delegations from around 200 countries, “They wished to challenge the ideas of delegates visiting Indonesia for the first time that Indonesia was a still a traditional country. Through a presentation of contemporary art dialogue they could observe a nation in a process of development and change.”

entang wiharso_wisdom_aluminum, car paint, polyurethane, resin, graphite, steel bar, lightbulb, electric cable, thread, color pigment, lamp, stainless steel, chai                               Wisdom, 2018 – Entang Wiharso

 

Pemad’s immediate task was to create a branch of HPAM (Heri Pemad Art Management) in Bali with a local team, led by Aswino Aji. After two years of hard work and waiting for the Indonesian governmental bureaucratic process to fall into place the event was given the green light, which left two months for the physical details of Art Bali to become manifest.

Art Bali was opened by the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia Sri Mulyani 9 October. Held in a purpose built venue designed by Pemad and sited within the Nusa Dua tourism precinct in the AB•BC Building, set over 1000 square meters, it was erected in a whirlwind 40 days. “We are pushing Indonesian art onto the new map of the global creative economy,” said Triawan Munaf. “We are optimistic that the creative economy will become the backbone of the national economy.”

"the tragedy of resistance" made widya diputra 2018, mixed media image richard horstman                The Tragedy of Resistance, 2018 –  Made Widya Diputra

 

Global art events in Indonesia that present the finest local and international talent, attracting large national and international audiences, the media, collectors and the art industry have been a feature of the Java art landscape for over a decade. Art fairs, ArtJog and Art Jakarta have become crucial platforms and meeting points for the Indonesian art world – the event’s brands now securely positioned on the global art map.

“Art Bali will be an annual event,” Aswino Aji said. “The venue will become a new feature on the Bali landscape, in the pipeline is a series of regular events.” Art Bali, however, is the subject of speculation. If the event continues it could prove to be a vital game changer – a catalyst within the reconfiguration of an important economic sector that was the initial driver of the tourism economy on Bali almost a century ago.

galam zulkifli_seri ilusi - indonesia idea #voice face_acrylic, fluorescent, glow in the dark paint on canvas_400x600 cm (6 panels, each 200x200 cm)_2018             Seri Ilusi – Indonesia Idea #Voice Face, 2018 –  Galam Zulkifli

 

Art and cultural tourism was responsible for the first wave of tourism to the island beginning in the 1930’s, until 1945. In the 1970’s during a renewed period of tourism growth art and culture again played defining roles. Post 2008 witnessed the new phenomenon of lifestyle tourism, driven by events such as the Bali Spirit Festival, and the Ubud Readers & Writers Festival, along with the development of resort tourism, as the burgeoning new economic engines. The advancement of new digital technologies as practical and powerful tools has fuelled the rapid growth in these thriving sectors.

The lack of local initiative and know-how to build a dynamic and functional infrastructure has, however, resulted in art being almost forgotten within the island’s recent fortunes, with enormous social and monetary potential being unrealized – and this is where Art Bali becomes essential.

ashley bickerton "yello nose & orang nose" 2018 mixed media image richard horstman                Yello Nose & Orang Nose, 2018 – Ashley Bickerton

 

“Our aim is to help build a sustainable art eco system in Bali,” Aswino Aji stated.

For a sustainable art eco system to evolve three essential fundamentals from the 20th century global art machine must exist within the Bali art landscape; a world-class art fair, museum and auction house, all with international stature. Understanding and prioritizing the need to revive and preserve Bali’s renowned creative traditions is also vital. This may be achieved by a purpose built center for research and development that also focuses on the necessary platforms to launch products and talent into the 21st century global creative economy.

Each year Art Bali must inject fresh and exciting energy into its program, making it very international, with new artists and new works, building its brand beyond Indonesia; first targeting collectors from SE Asia, China, Japan and India. Understanding Art Bali’s target audience of national, regional and international art collectors, and being able to lure them to Bali will be one of the keys to its future success. When the above-mentioned key facets of the art infrastructure are in place, the other essentials will organically evolve.

courtesy of National Gallery of Indonesia                          The Traveller, 2018 – Eko Nugroho

 

For Art Bali to flourish and become the spearhead of a sustainable art eco system teamwork and collaboration is pivotal, including support from many Indonesian government ministries beyond BEKRAF, and likewise the cooperation from the Bali government. A challenge is how to mobilize the enormous pool of talent from Bali – its artists and art communities.

Art Bali needs to capitalize on the superb international branding power of Bali, while making a clear distinction from ArtJog by having an event with a strong Bali identity. A vision of how the sustainability of Bali’s art eco system can be achieved is possible. Art Bali is the first step in this process.

chusin setiadikara - "jejak-jejak jalur sutra" 2017 150 x 200cm oil & acrylic on canvas - image richard horstman                      Jejak-Jejak Jalur Sutra, 2017  – Chusin Setiadikara

 

nyoman erawan - "dancing with the shadows" 2018 mixed media image richard horstman               Dancing with the Shadows, 2018 – Nyoman Erawan

 

ab - bc bali collection building nusa dua, bali image richard horstman

 

www.artbali.co.id

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images courtesy of Art Bali & Richard Horstman