Tag Archives: Neo Pitamaha

Paradise lost & new frontiers: Gede Mahendra Yasa’s landmark investigation into Balinese painting

"Tamiang" GMY 2011Tamiang, 2011, 150 x 200cm – Gede Mahendra Yasa. Exhibited in “Post Bali”

 

After the fall of President Suharto and the New Order Regime in 1998 Indonesian artists enjoyed new liberties, and their art became increasingly social and political in content. Representing a new generation of the Balinese avant-garde, Gede Mahendra Yasa was inspired by the freedoms of the post refromasi era, and dared to investigate his Balinese roots like no other artist had previously attempted – he questioned the popular ‘narratives’, along with the status quo. What transpired at the beginning of the new millenium has evolved into an ongoing project – a unique, yet essential, exploration into Balinese painting.

Born in 1967 in the island’s former capital of Singaraja, Mahendra Yasa grew up within a ‘multi-cultural’ environment where the Balinese Hindu’s had the freedom to choose a more open interpretation of cultural life. They were not subjected to the religious and cultural structures that were ‘imposed’ within the Gianyar regency during the 20th century, while it was being honed into a pro-Dutch colonial model of a ‘living cultural museum’ to stimulate tourism.

"Priest" GMY 2011Priest, 2011, 150 x 200cm – Gede Mahendra Yasa. Exhibited in “Post Bali”

 

Mahendra Yasa studied architecture and mechanical engineering in Surabaya, East Java from 1986 to 1988, yet he discovered this to be too limiting, being more attracted to the expressive freedoms of painting. He then began his autodidact journey, and an intensive learning into the history and discourses of Western painting.  Between 1998-2002 he formally studied at the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) Denpasar where he analyzed his practical and theoretical Balinese art knowledge.

Bali is generally considered to be exotic, and is stuck in a past cultural era. Balinese art is perceived as secondary, as a craft, and not as a legitimate part of Indonesian modern art history. These issues have arisen due to the dense bias of ethnography and anthropology (orientalist in nature) in determining the understanding of Bali, especially during 1920’s – 1930’s within the ‘golden age’ of Balinese development when Balinese traditional art was shaped as a colonial political tool – and this frustrates Mahendra Yasa.  An atheist, Mahendra Yasa was an avid detractor of the local culture, and took a critical stance to the art practices in Bali. This compelled him to continuously investigate and then seek out new frontiers in Balinese painting, in a career long pursuit into its thematic and aesthetic distinctions.

7 Magnficent Masterpieces #1, 2011, 200x150cm Newspaper Collage chinese ink on canvas7 Magnificent Masterpieces #1, 2011, 200 x 150cm, Newspaper Collage & Chinese Ink on Canvas – Gede Mahendra Yasa. Exhibited in “Post Bali”

 

“My entry point is from the contemporary, but using the traditional identity of painting,” he once said. In Post Bali, his landmark 2014 exhibition at ROH Projects, Jakarta, Mahendra Yasa adopted a unique methodology to other Indonesian contemporary artists, driven by his powerful intellect, and an obsession with painting, he delved into local Balinese issues from a western conceptual art perspective. Painting for the artist is not only about the object – it can function as a philosophical and analytical tool.

Post Bali combined an array of western and Balinese painting styles through which Mahendra Yasa revealed his investigation of the complexities of Balinese painting. He utilized various appropriations in his works that have been internationally recognized as modern or contemporary art masterpieces. The exhibition unfolded with photo-realism paintings from 2010 depicting scenarios of Balinese life. It continued via the acclaimed traditional Batuan narrative style of painting, with miniature photo realistic characters as the code through which he explained key parts of Balinese, Indonesian and Western art techniques and history. Within these works he also explored traditional techniques of making canvases, and Chinese ink painting.

7 Magnificent Masterpieces #2, 2012 Acrylic on canvas 200x150cm7 Magnificent Masterpieces #2, 2012, 200x150cm, Acrylic on Canvas – Gede Mahendra Yasa. Exhibited in “Post Bali”

 

Contemporary Art in Paradise Lost, Mahendra Yasa’s enormous 75 x 300 cm epic which included multiple scenes in the one work, taking the artist over a year to complete, was juxtaposed against his dual panel Pollock-esque abstract expressionist works. Post Bali explored three distinct realizations of Bali through different painting styles and ‘tests’ to what extent it is able to interact with materials and ideas familiar to contemporary art. The exhibition can be read as a chronological progression of his work and represents the start of a project that has now become much larger and more complex in nature. Post Bali has defined Mahendra Yasa as one of the few, truly important Balinese contemporary artists, while confirming his position within Indonesian art history.

"Silver Acrylic Paint on Face #2" GMY 2012 Silver Acrylic Paint on Face, #2, 2012 –  Gede Mahendra Yasa (self-portrait)

 

In early June 2018 the following interview was conducted by Richard Horstman and Gede Mahendra Yasa.

 

RH: Since early 2000 you have been driven by the need to question the popular ‘narratives’ and the status quo within Balinese art.

Why did you begin doing this?

GMY: In 2001, only 3 years after reformation and the fall of the new order regime, Indonesian artist enjoyed new freedoms, and political art came to the fore. For a few decades Sanggar Dewata Indonesia (SDI), Bali’s oldest and most influential collective which began in 1970, held power over the art scene. For me, however, they represented the new order regime, with much of their approach to art continuing on from the Dutch colonial methods. I was determined to change the game here in Bali.

The-Death-of-Gatotkaca. 1500x200. 2013The Death of Gatotkaca, 2014, 150 x 200cm – Gede Mahendra Yasa. Exhibited in “Post Bali”

 

RH: As an art provocateur it was essential to ask important questions in order to be able to move forward, as well as to inspire others to be more analytical and critical. Within the sphere of Indonesian and Balinese art, however, there is no culture of criticism, and such an approach is seen as confrontational. You had to move ‘out of the comfort of your studio’ and into the public forum to be heard.  Was this difficult to do?

GMY: Yes, at the beginning it was very difficult. But slowly the art public accepted my criticism.

RH: The formation of collectives has played an important role, while helping you in the exploration of your ideas. (This first began with the Klinik Seni Taxu. The young artists of Taxu reacted to the institutionalized “authority” over Indonesian art which prevailed during in the 1990’s – 2000. They were driven to promote the development of a Balinese art outside the traditional parameters of Balinese religion and culture and were active between 2001-06 releasing publications and exhibiting. In 2001, as students at the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) Denpasar, the Taxu group received funding from ISI to hold an art event they titled, Mendobrak Hegemoni (Shattering the Hegemony).

"Paradise Lost" GMY Chinese Ink on Kamasan Canvas 2014

Paradise Lost #2, 2014, Chinese Ink on Kamasan Canvas – Gede Mahendra Yasa

 

What occurred was a protest featuring abusive comments in various languages about the commercialization of art. They attacked copies of major artists works and produced effigies of the artists as mummies, posters proclaimed ‘art is dead’. The event shocked both the singled out artists, and the ISI authorities during an era when the pressures of the New Order Regime were still heavy. The protest was of national significance because Bali had become a key site for the formation of ideas about Indonesian art).

Can you explain why the Taxu group came about and what were their aims?

GMY: Bali has traditions like the banjar system of communal organization. I learned from the influence of the foreign artist during the 1930’s – 1940’s (Spies and Bonnet) and Nyoman Ngendon from Batuan, and in wider context from the first Indonesian community based artist groups (PERSAGI & LEKRA). I understood that organizing groups, following in the tradition of making “schools” of artists was a more strategic and quicker way to achieve goals. This belief pushed me to find artistic idioms for the groups to function as a“glue” (Social realism for Klinik Seni Taxu, and abstraction for Nu-Abstract, his latest collective which began in 2017).

"Between Me,You and the Bedpost #2 Mahendra YasaBetween Me, You and the Bedpost #1. 2014, 100 x 163cm – Gede Mahendra Yasa, Exhibited in “Post Bali”

 

RH: More recently the Neo-Pitamaha has been formed. Can you share more about this collective?

GMY: The origins of the Neo-Pitamaha began after my 2011 solo exhibition in Milan, Italy because of problems with my “identity” as a Balinese painter. I began to think a lot about my artistic roots, and then started to explore Balinese painting (focussing on painting from the last century – the Classical style referred to as Kamasan, and the Batuan traditional style). I believed that the Classical and traditional styles had come to a dead-end. And then I challenged myself to contemporize what the academic artists (especially the Yogyakarta Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) alumni) thought was impossible. And I proved them wrong! In 2013 I “assembled” a new group to push this idea further.

RH: Can you share please the ideas behind your series of paintings made between 2012 – 2018 which began with 7 Magnificent Masterpieces #1 & #2, and continues on with Origen’s Gambit?

"Contemporary Art in Paradise Lost" 2012-2014, 300x75 cmContemporary Art in Paradise Lost, 2014, 75 x 300cm – Gede Mahendra Yasa. Exhibited in “Post Bali”

 

GMY: I wanted to contemporize the Batuan painting style emphasizing the full compositions, with no empty spaces. Complete with the dualities and horror, the dense and decorative style – very Balinese. Unlike the Dutch miniatures such as Brueghel, Bosch, for example, who use the linear perspective. I use the bird eye’s view perspective, like the Batuan artists. I then realised that the series could be used for telling stories about art history (Balinese, Indonesian and global art history). My inspirations came from the American painter Mark Tansey, and also the comic genres, such as Marvel and DC Comics, and how they make alternative universes. I wanted to mimic their method to create my own universe – an art history universe.

Remember this miniature epic series has taken 6 years to develop, so many things have happened. This is on going, and in the near future, in the third phase of this series I plan my approach to be more a linguistic or semiotic exploration. I will “illustrate” a lot of “ideas” about imagery, icons, logos and symbols. Here, I have been influenced by Xu Bing a main land Chinese painter.

"Yasa Perburuan Rusa" GMY 2014                        Yasa Perburuan Rusa, 2014 – Gede Mahendra Yasa

 

RH: You have a long and ongoing relationship with abstract painting. In 2017 you formed the collective NU-abstract to explore further Balinese abstraction and the collective will be exhibiting at NADI Gallery in Jakarta in early July. Do you find exploring your feelings within this genre is the perfect creative pursuit while other concepts need certain periods of time to fully develop and to be successfully executed and expressed? Does this help you to achieve a type of ‘balance’?

GMY: Yes, I need to balance my other painting series as they demand too much logic. There is, however, another reason. I formed the NU-abstract group because there are some Islamic fundamentalist art groups (Rumah Warna, Khat, Khilafah art networks) in Yogyakarta, and Hijrah in Bandung, who want to use non-figurative painting as a tool to forbid the making of imagery of “living creatures”. They twist modern abstraction for their own political benefits while intercepting the potentiality of this new Indonesian art trend. I want to stop their ideas of controlling and polluting the Indonesian art world.

"Yasa Spiral Frame" GMY 2014                              Yasa Spiral Frame, 2014 – Gede Mahendra Yasa

 

Mahendra Yasa along with Neo-Pitamaha co-founder Kemal Ezedine set out to strategically impact upon the Indonesian contemporary art world in 2016 by participating in high level exhibitions and art fairs in Bandung, Jakarta and Yogyakarta. Their presence was especially visible during the two international art fairs, Art Stage Jakarta 2016 and 2016 Bazaar Art Jakarta that attracted large national and foreign audiences.

The Neo-Pitamaha have taken their name from the legendary 1936 artists association established in Ubud during a revolutionary period when traditional art was being modernized for the new and expanding international market – the Pitamaha’s oversaw the successful development of this new genre of art that helped communicate the Balinese culture around the world. The Pitamaha was formed by the prince of Ubud Tjokorda Agung Sukawati, Bali’s modern master Gusti Nyoman Lempad, and the expat foreign artists Walter Spies, and Rudolf Bonnet.

"BipolarDemons" GMY 2017, 200x160Bipolar Demons, 2107, 200 x 150cm – Gede Mahendra Yasa. From the NU-abstract series and exhibited in the group exhibition “Celebrating Indonesian Portraiture” at OHD Museum Magelang, Central Java, continuing through until 8 October 2018.

 

With their ideology deeply rooted in the historical development of Balinese art during the past century, and with a new discourse about Balinese art the Neo-Pitamaha reinterpreted this art form from a contemporary art perspective – retaining the principles involved with the techniques and methods. By opening this to new viewpoints they awakened a new spirit and introduced a fresh model of possibilities into Balinese art.

 

After Paradise Lost 2014-2016In May 2016 at Christie’s Hong Kong Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale “After Paradise Lost” (2014) by Gede Mahendra Yasa sold for HKD 1,240,000 (USD 158,000), well above the estimated price of between HKD 350,000 (USD 44,500) – HKD 500,000 (USD 63,500).

 

Origen's Gambit" GMYAt Christie’s Hong Kong Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale November 2017, Gede Mahendra Yasa’s painting “Origen’s Gambit” (2016-2017) realised HKD 1,750,000 (USD 220,000), selling well above the estimated price of HKD 380,000 (USD48,000) – HKD 550,000 (USD70,000).

 

Gede Mahendra Yasa’s painting After Paradise Lost has been selected as one of the 15 finalists in the Signature Art Prize. The award, which is presented every three years, is organized by the Singapore Art Museum and sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Breweries Foundation. The winner will be announced at an award ceremony on June 29, and the works are currently on exhibit from May 25 to Sept. 2 at the National Museum of Singapore.

 

 

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Coutesy of IndoArtNow, Gede Mahendra Yasa & Richard Horstman

Advertisements

Neo Pitamaha – An Art Movement in the Making?

20161023_161947

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.

20161023_161737

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.”

20161023_161746

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.

20161023_161627

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.

20161023_161758

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bali Art Scene 2016 – An Overview

Citra Sh"Torment"

“Torment”  2015 – Citra Sasmita one of the strongest works from the ‘Bali Art Intervention #1’ “Violent Bali”

This overview looks back over the past six months (and more) at exhibitions and happenings of note in the Bali art scene which in the past year has witnessed some critical infrastructure developments.

Closing out 2015 ‘Bali Art Intervention #1’ “Violent Bali”, open 10 November at the Tony Raka Art Gallery in Ubud, featured the work of 60 artists, and was the strongest collective showing of contemporary art in Bali since July 2013’s “Irony in Paradise” by Sanggar Dewata Indonesia at ARMA. Slated to run for a month the exhibition continued into the new year and works by Citra Samsita, Wayan Wirawan, Agus Cahaya, Ida Bagus Putra Adnyana, Pandi Acmadi, Tatang BSP, amongst many others were worthy of mention.

Made Budhiana. "In the Darkness of Night" Image M. O'Riordan “In the Darkness of Night” 2015 – Made Budhiana from the “Cruise Control” Exhibition

“Cruise Control Indonesia – Top End Artist’s Camp Exhibition” 23 January – 13 February 2016 at the Northern Center of Contemporary Art (NCCA) in Darwin, Australia showcased the some of the fruits of the 2015 Artist’s Camp, an engagement by 6 Indonesian artists in the Northern Territory (NT). For five weeks Made Budhiana, Wayan Wirawan, Made Sudibia, Made ‘Dalbo’ Suarimbawa and Ni Nyoman Sani from Bali, and East Javanese artist Suryani were guests of the government of Northern Territory and were exposed to foreign lands and societies, and delved creatively into new visual and conceptual territories.

The biannual Artists Camp, which was first held in 2012 in the NT, and then with two subsequent Camps in Bali (2012 & 2014) is the initiative of Australian art lover Colin MacDonald and Made Budhiana, working with the NCCA, expanding upon the original modal of the Artists Camp that first began back in 1978. The exhibition displayed some outstanding works of cross-cultural engagement and its success in underlined by the support the Chief Minister of the NT government and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Despite international political relations between Indonesia and Australia recently weathering stormy seas, art and cultural remain the most important and enduring engagements between the two countries.

TiTian Art Space. Image by Richard Horstman                 TiTian Art Space – Image Featuring works by Teja Astawa & I.B. Purwa

Merging perceptions and practices from the past with the present, along with an innovative vision for the future, Yayasan TiTian Bali (YTB), a new art foundation launched 29 January 2016 at Bentara Budaya Bali cultural center, is setting out to revolutionize Balinese art. Inaugurated on the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Pitamaha artists collective in Ubud, the Balinese artist co-operative TiTian Art Space, located on Jalan Bisma Ubud, will help transform artists into art entrepreneurs within the creative economies.

The brain child of the former 20 years volunteer curator and international liaison officer for Puri Lukisan Museum, Soemantri Widagdo, exhibitions hosted this year have showcased some of the finest Balinese traditional and contemporary artists such as Teja Astawa, Ida Bagus Putu Purwa, Made Griyawan, Aris Sumanta and Gede Widyantara to name a few. The June “Traces Under the Surface – Batuan Painting Exhibition” set 3 generations of Batuan painters from one family side-by-side in a unique expose into the development of Batuan painting. The regular series of exhibitions and workshops along with the revolutionary vision of YTB are an exciting and important addition to the Bali art infrastructure.

With plans to build a Museum of Contemporary Art (Bali MOCA), an international class museum located in Ubud, within the next ten years, exhibiting both old and new work of the highest quality, YTB expects to inspire new directions and achievements in Balinese art, while being the premier hub for Balinese visual arts by 2021.  Balinese traditional art is undergoing an exciting revival underpinned by fresh young talent and strategic collective activity, for example in Batuan led by the formation of the Baturlangan Artist Collective of Batuan.

With the mission to place Balinese art on global platforms the welcome addition of  YTB to the Bali art scene will aid in future consolidation of the current flourishing of Balinese traditional painting. The 21st century ushers in a new paradigm of global thinking and the art world is responding and evolving especially due to the impact of the internet and social media which is empowering individuals to develop global brands and presence. Yayasan TiTian Bali is building a new eco system for Balinese art for the 21st Century.

A.A Gede Anom Sukawati-"Tari Joged Bumbung". Image courtesy of Larasati“Joged Bumbung” 2008 – A.A Gede Anom Sukawati featured in the 1oth Anniversary Larasati Balinese Modern Traditional & Contemporary Art Auction at ARMA Ubud.

Results of the special 10th anniversary Larasati Balinese Modern Traditional & Contemporary Art auction at ARMA 28 February confirm that the market for Balinese traditional art is growing steadily while providing excellent value through the low to medium and high price ranges. Emphasizing quality over quantity the 81 items birthday sale featured a parade of beautiful works including sketches, watercolors, wood carvings and paintings by “Old & Young” Balinese masters.

During the past decade, with two auctions per year in Ubud Larasati have opened up an international forum for the trade of high quality traditional Balinese works, especially paintings. By introducing professionalism of an international standard that Bali had yet to experience in its art dealings Larasati has helped create a real, healthy market for traditional Balinese art. The auction included works by popular artists I.B Made Poleng, Gusti Lempad, Made Sukada, A.A Gede Anom Sukawati, and I.B Nyana to name a few.

A feature of the sale was Larasati Auctioneers providing for the first ever real-time data over the internet allowing easy, direct access to buying opportunities for a global audience. The auction audience revealed more foreigners in attendance than Indonesians being a testament to the developing international market of the Balinese art which is considered by experts to be undervalued. Larasati CEO Daniel Komala confirmed that the outcome of first ten years of auctions have exceeded all expectations.

I GAK MURNIASIH - SEDANG ACTION - AOC - 100 x 100cm - 2003                                                  “Sedang Action” –  I GAK Murniasih

“Merayakan Murni / Celebrating Murni”, a project gathering local and regional artists to create works in response to the legacy of the iconic female Balinese artist I GAK Murniasih (1966-2006) “Murni” started 8 December 2015 at the innovative new art space Ketemu Project Space in Sukawati. Punctuating the beginning of the 6 month plus program of events, culminating with the group exhibition at Sudakara Art Space Sanur 16 July 2016, the 8 December event was an intimate evening of discussions.  Featuring friends and colleagues of Murni’s, while introducing some of the breadth of her work, and the schedule of up coming events was reveled that included artist in residency programs and curator discussions. This highly anticipated exhibition will be the most important of the 2016 art calendar.

AJI02649_1-1_LR“Forgotten Optical Satsuma Filters” – Ashley Bickerton at Rumah Topeng dan Wayang Setiadharma

Kayu, a series of exhibitions that began in 2014 presented by French art worker Lucie Fontaine at Rumah Topeng dan Wayang Setiadharma in Mas, has been a highly valuable contribution to the appreciation of contemporary art in Bali. Organized and curated by Italian artist and Ubud resident Marco Cassani, Kayu showcased both local and international artist in cross cultural collaborations, group and solo exhibitions. Kayu aims to support the growth and awareness of contemporary art in Indonesia through experimental and conceptual projects and operations as an incubation facility to give the opportunity for information and knowledge exchange between Bali and Indonesia with the outside art world. Projects have included artists Corrado Levi, Radu Cosma, Entang Wiharso and Luigi Ontani.

The exhibition space at Rumah Topeng, a traditional Javanese teak warehouse is a unique setting for the presentation of contemporary art allowing the ambience of cultural design elements and raw timber to enhance the presence of the art. Despite not being well attended by the local art community, importantly Kayu allowed an opportunity for people to enjoy art in an alternative exhibition setting, in contrast to the often “sterile” gallery spaces, while positively contributing to the viewer experience. The program culminated in April with Ashley Bickerton’s first ever solo exhibition in Indonesia “Forgotten Optical Satsuma Filters” that featured his experimental “non commercial” color creations.

DSCF4872             “King Udayana : A Visual Epic” 2016 – Ketut Budiana at Bentara Budaya Bali

The historical collaboration between the Udayana University of Bali and the Bentara Budaya Bali Cultural Center, Denpasar on Friday 15 April highlighted a landmark event in Balinese painting, presenting the works of Balinese master artist Ketut Budiana. Officiated by the Governor of Bali, Made Mangku Pastika, the exhibition “King Udayana : A Visual Epic” featured an enormous narrative canvas, 8339 x 140 cm spanning the walls of the pavilion paying homage to the lifetime journey of the 10th century Balinese King Udayana.

Budiana invited the audience to wonder clockwise around the pavilion to engage with this poetic work laid out in such as way as to occupy the four directions of the compass, with their respective gods, and colors, symbolically linking the human existence with the cosmos. Often described as a “fantastic’ painter” Budiana communicates stories that appear to come from the subconscious in dream like imagery that often evolves from swirling clouds of energy. Post exhibition the work was installed within the Rectorate’s hall of the Udayana University in Jimbaran.

13173813_10153830185898778_8308656514481768488_n     “Kartini” – Cherographed by Jasmine Okubo, May 2016, image by Dewandra Djelantik

Long time collaborator with Indonesian artists, Japanese choreographer, dancer and performer Jasmine Okubo continues to push the art performance genre into new and exciting realms. Her performance during the opening of Rie m’s April exhibition “Conexion & Contradiccion” at the Villa Pandan Harum, Ubud was captivating, as were other during the year. While Rie’s exhibition of cross cultural infusions was outstanding, and importantly introducing the art of collage in a fresh and highly sensitive manner to the local art community, Jasmine’s performance, melding the futuristic aesthetics with Balinese and Japanese flavors typifies her extraordinary talent.

Okubo’s 5 June performance at Rumah Sanur in a silent enclosed space brought into dynamic, otherworldly life with excellent visual aesthetics via video mapping during the Art Ritual, themed about the transition from WATER to AGNI for the 2017 Sprites Bali Art & Creative Biennale broke new ground for the performer and the audience alike.

DSCF5736                               “Questioning Balinese Painting” 2016 – Kemal Ezedine

 

Neo Pitamaha art collective headed by Gede Mahendra Yasa and Kemal Ezedine brings a fresh, strategic, intellectual approach to the art explorations in the historical development of Balinese traditional painting. Beginning in 2013, inspired to investigate a new paradigm of Balinese painting, since 2014 they have been exhibiting in high-profile events in Bandung, Semarang and ArtJog in Yogyakarta. During 2016 they have been increasingly focusing their attention outside of Bali especially engaging with curators, collectors, along with larger audiences. Mahendra Yasa and Ezedine both held solo exhibitions at Langgeng Art Foundation, during the Jogja Art Weeks June/July art extravaganza for the local and international audiences gathered in Yogyakarta for the opening of ArtJog9.

The Neo Pitamaha’s critical and strategic approach is building positive momentum, importantly raising the bar of what Bali based collectives may achieve, while setting a potent example for others to learn from. Ezedine’s enormous 2016 mural project, highlighting his graphic illustration and dynamic color design skills, upon ceiling panels of the café dining area the new Artotel in Sanur is a visual feast for the eyes while helping to define the uniqueness of Bali’s first art themed hotel.

DSCF4884Detail from Gusti Agung Mangu  Putra’s 2016 painting of the 1906 Pupatan in Denpasar at Gwangju Art Museum, South Korea

Social issues and important Balinese historical events are themes close to Gusti Agung Mangu Putra’s heart. In the May 2016 “In Commemoration of the 36th Anniversary of the May 18th Democratization Movement 2016 Asian Democracy, Human Rights, Peace Exhibition – The Truth To Turn it Over” at the Gwangju Art Museum, South Korea he exhibited his painting of the 1906 Pupatan in Denpasar  Bali. Following from his research early in 2016 he reconstructed a scene post puputan killings that depicts leaders of the Dutch military battalion posing with the body of the Raja of Denpasar.

IMG-20160609-WA003       The WOI (Wall of Indonesia) Exhibition at Bloo Art Space, Padang Bai, East Bali

The prevalence of artist run initiatives such as Cata Odata in Ubud, Ketemu Project Space (who via their regional approach, professionalism and highly structured methodology have raised the bar high in Bali for others to be inspired), Luden House in Ubud, and the recently renamed Bloo Art Space located at the Bloo Lagoon Eco Resort and Villas in Padang Bai (also managed by Cata Odata), have become major forces within the development of art in Bali. While these community focused organizations embrace and grow through the dynamic connectivity of social media and the internet what is essential is that there are venues outside of the gallery commercial modal that continue to grow and survive as essential pillars of the art infrastructure in Bali.