Tag Archives: Nyoman Sukari

Gede Gunada: exciting artistic talent from east Bali

20190925_150544                                  2017 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

Balinese contemporary artist Gede Gunada first came to my attention in 2012. He was among a group of four other local artists who participated in the Artists Camp in the Top End of Northern Territory (NT) of Australia during in the same year. The project’s mission was to expose the Balinese artists to the raw and diverse landscape along with the art and culture of the aboriginal people.

Gunada’s depictions of the NT terrain are characterized by his rapid brush stroke in an expressionistic style revealed the distinct earthy qualities of the lands. His five-week experience was varied and at times confronting, being exposed to the extremes of the desert environment. “I was not only fascinated by the changing landscapes, yet was mesmerized by the ancient Australian aboriginal rock paintings,” Gunada said. “I would silently sit for hours, attempting to absorb the mysterious, invisible essence of the works.

20190925_190941                                      2019 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

Recently, however, through the convenience of social media – Instagram – his works once again caught my eye, especially his figurative compositions. Defined by simple colour schemes on white paper – Chinese ink with coffee washes, and at times a touch of pastel to add a vibrant sense of colour contrast. Strong black lines describe the structure of his subjects, and then random dabs of light brown coffee wash and ink complete the work. Unhindered by the need to create details in the composition, fascinating abstract elements prevail, that include the white background, become defining features of Gunada’s works.

“The experience leading me to use coffee as a painting medium occurred purely by mistake,” Gunada said with a smile upon his face. “I spilt some coffee upon a work, then marvelled at the strength of the colour and the aesthetic impact it made. I then decided I had to experiment some more.” One of the highlights of these works is their sense of immediacy. Works on medium-sized pieces of paper he completes within 10 – 15 minutes.

20190925_150757                                  2019 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

His portraits, often of beautiful young women, school children, or friends are produced quickly, reflecting an artist who is grounded in self-confidence. They capture the strong individual characteristics of his subjects, both the physical and the invisible essence that shines from within.

Living in the village of Ababi, near the Tirtagangga water palace, half an hour from the city of Alamapura, the capital of the Karangasem, East Bali regency, Gunada’s family compound in is surrounded by bamboo forests in the foothills. Being removed from the art communities of Denpasar and Ubud, these days Gunada rarely exhibits at the popular art venues, and except for exposure through Instagram, he remains somewhat obscure.

20190925_150830                               2016 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

Born in 1979 Gunada received his art education at SMSR junior high school in Denpasar from 1993 – 1997. After which he was mostly self-taught while also learning from two of Bali’s most well-known and respected senior contemporary artists – Made Budhiana and Nyoman Suakri (1968 – 2010). “Sukari didn’t like to talk much; only he would encourage me to be dedicated and work hard. Budhiana emphasized that I must also work hard to discover my own personal artistic ‘voice’,” Gunada said.

From a young age, Gunada was inspired to create drawings, random shapes and forms scribing images into the dirt with a stick in the yard of his family house. “While at junior school I developed a love for painting the figures of the wayang kulit shadow puppet theatre,” the artist said. “This then developed into a passion for the wayang theatre. A puppet master or dalang lived nearby, so I often spent hours watching him make the puppets, practice, even helping during performances. I would sit next to him and hand him the puppets on cue.”

20190925_150438                                     2016 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

The stunning mountainous and oceanside landscapes of his region are often the subject matter for his works, along with the iconic architectural features from an old Balinese kingdom. This kingdom was once a mighty empire reaching west into Buleleng, and as far east as the island of Lombok. The King Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem (1887-1966), who was a master of Balinese dancer and an excellent woodcarver, built in the area two large water palaces; Ujung Water Palace by the ocean in Ujung constructed in 1926 and Tirta Gangga created in 1957. Dynamic brush stroke and abstract elements again characterize Gunada’s depictions of the landscape and the architectural sites. In some of his works, he strips the physical aspects of the scenario down to their essential core, then brings the composition to life using his bold and electrifying palette.

“I like to balance my creativity by working in the field with friends, and also at home alone in my studio,” Gunada says. “I love to paint quickly; it reflects my passionate, emotional state of well being.”

20190925_150513                               2019 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

20190925_150627                            Early composition by Gede Gunada

 

20190925_190825                                   2019 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

20190925_191017                                    2019 Painting by Gede Gunada

 

 

To see more of Gede Gunada’s work go to: Instagram @ggunada

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posthumous tribute to Balinese artist Sukari a highlight of Jogja Art Weeks

"Dialog" 2005 - Nyoman Sukari, 150 x 250cm, oil on canvas. Image Richard Horstman                                   Dialog, 2000 – Nyoman Sukari

 

Balinese Hindu ritual is a fascinating and potent fundamental of a distinct traditional culture that, through its philosophies seeks to embrace a universal sense of harmony between all people, the environment and the divine. It incorporates a belief system that places equal emphasis on both the physical and non-physical aspects of the world and the dualistic nature of life.

In the compelling finale to the opening ceremony of Trajectory: Posthumous Solo Exhibition of I Nyoman Sukari, 26 July 2019 at Taman Budaya Yogyakarta (TBY), Yogyakarta, a display of ceremonial ritual set a unique and electrifying atmosphere that continued throughout the evening. Ni Nyoman Aryaningsih, the widow of the late and renowned painter, accompanied by a gamelan ensemble and a traditional flute, sang the Bramara Ngisep Sari mantra. In this sacred practice, that included a special dance performance by Aryaningsih and family members, the presentation of offerings and incense, Sukari’s spirit was called to return from the heavens to the earthly plane in order to witness the exhibition.

Audience at TBY during Sukari opening - Image Richard HorstmanThe audience at TBY during the opening of Trajectory: Posthumous Solo Exhibition of I Nyoman Sukari.

 

One hundred and thirty-eight of Sukari’s works, 50 oil paintings, 13 pen drawings on canvas, 29 watercolour and acrylics on paper, 35 pencil sketches on paper and 11 mixed media works on carton from the private collections of Dr Oei Hong Djien, Lin Che Wei, and Aryaningsih went on display at TBY. This monumental and practically designed presentation, which included a timeline of significant data and photos set over 50 meters of wall space, took Sarasvati Art Management three years to organize. It is held in conjunction with Jogja Art Weeks (JAW) – a two-month-long program of exhibitions and events conducted throughout Central Java in support of Indonesia’s leading contemporary art festival ArtJog MMXIX Common Space, open 24 July – 24 August at Jogja National Museum.

Beginning from his school days SMSR (1986-1990) until his final years of creativity in 2009, the collaboration between Sarasvati Art Management, OHD Museum, the Sanggar Dewata Indonesia (SDI) art collective, and Aryaningsih, features works spanning Sukari’s entire, award-winning career. It is set out chronologically from his school years to art college at the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) Yogyakarta, the art collective Spirit ‘90 era, his career peak in 2002 – 2003, his solo exhibition in Gajah Gallery Singapore, and then the final stages of his career in 2008 – 2009.

Nyoman Sukari self portrait in ink on paper circa? Image Richard Horstman                        Self-portrait, ink on paper by Nyoman Sukari

 

Symbolically layered with meaning, and loaded with atmospheric energy, Sukari’s paintings are a meeting point between the sekala and niskala – the physical and non-physical worlds according to the Balinese philosophies. Curated by Suwarno Wisetrotomo and Gede Arya Sucitra, lecturers at ISI Yogyakarta, where Sukari was an outstanding student, Trajectory highlights the three defining creative periods of his career.

“In considering and understanding the creativity and philosophy in Sukari’s paintings it is necessary to know who he was, where he came from, and what his social-cultural environment was. What his cultural experience was, why he painted, and what he painted,” writes Arya Sucitra in the exhibition catalogue. The seventh of nine children, born 6 July 1968 in the remote village of Ngis, Manggis, Karangasem, East Bali, Sukari grew up to become accomplished in traditional music playing gamelan, and the suling flute, as well as dancing, singing. Traditional Balinese wisdom and values were the foundations of how he lived his life within his family, community, and artistic contexts.

Sukari Saat Melukis                       Nyoman Sukari at work in his Yogyakarta studio

 

“Sukari created works that departed from the traditional arts of his forefathers with a ‘new’ technical approach – expressionism, freeing himself from the details, yet still being able to place the mystical atmosphere within his works,” continues Arya Sucitra. “Working in Yogya, where he lived and studied from 1991 – 1995, gave him the opportunity to reread and explore the space between tradition and modernity, between the old and the new, and between those who were close to the niskala.”

A character of many contradictions Sukari had the distinction of having a sold out show at the Spirit ‘90 exhibition at Purna Budaya Yogyakarta when he was a student at ISI Yogyakarta. In a rare artistic journey, at the beginning of his career his works were priced highly, then at the end of his career, due to lack of market popularity, his works were priced low. A visionary and versatile artist, along with being a crucial art provocateur, and art community leader, during the exhibitions of the collective Spirit ‘90 in 1994 & 1995 Sukari’s paintings were partly responsible for the Indonesian art market boom beginning at the campus level. The artist chose to, however, distance himself from the chaos of the boom that continued on until 2000. At times he refused to sell his works to art collectors.

"Orang Gila" 2000 - Nyoman Sukari, 150 x 200 cm, oil on cnvas. Image Richard Horstman                               Orang Gila, 2000 – Nyoman Sukari

 

Highly expressive with dynamic brushstrokes, Sukari’s oil paintings are powerful insights from the darker angels of his psyche. Black and greys, golden browns, touches of white and red to achieve dramatic contrasts, his compositions are often a collision of imagery and non-descript forms. Many of his works feature menacing eyes and faces gazing out from swirling masses of energy. Immediately confronting, these works are not for the faint-hearted.

Sukari’s narratives vary from the cultural, mythological and the surreal, to his reflections upon Indonesia’s social and political upheaval during the finale of President Suharto’s New Order Regime, observations and contemplations about life, mortality, and his spirituality. Just a few of his awards include the 1993 ISI Yogyakarta best painting, the 1994 Affandi Adi Karya Art Award for best painting, and in 2000 the Lempad Prize from Sanggar Dewata Indonesia (SDI).

Exhibition co-curator Gede Arya Sucitra discussing Sukari's pen on canvas compositions - Image Richard HorstmanExhibition cocurator Arya Sucitra during a discussion about the watercolour paintings of Nyoman Sukari

 

While Trajectory’s content is dominated by darker themes Sukari’s ‘lighter’ sensibilities come to the fore within his works on paper in watercolour, ink and acrylics. His sketches and watercolours on paper and canvas have never been publically exhibited. A few small ink compositions feature minimalistic imagery that appears floating upon the white expanses of paper – here we embrace the gentler essence of the painter.

“The final years of Sukari’s career were his most contemplative and philosophical,” states Arya Sucitra. “His Niskala Drawing Series 2008 – 2009, featuring complex compositions in pen on canvas are an important aesthetic landmark emphasizing his spiritual journey while revealing an undeniable pull for him to become a holy man or priest.”

The works feature forms rendered in horizontal and vertical structures that create distinct relationships with the upper and lower supernatural worlds, along with his own magical iconography derived from the sacred rerajahan symbols, and his ideas about his spiritual responsibilities. Perhaps his finest masterpiece is Menunggu Cuaca, 2008, a stark composition depicting a fisherman waiting for fine weather so that he may return to the ocean. In this symbolic reflection upon patience, Sukari’s reveals his intuitive musings about the closing episode of his life.

Pen sketch on paper by Nyoman Sukari, circa 2008-2009. Image Richard Horstman               Pen drawing on paper, circa 2008 – 2009 by Nyoman Sukari

 

Sukari passed away 12 May 2010 in Bali after battling with a two-year illness. He leaves behind an inspiring legacy underlining his commitment to his family, culture, creative life purpose and building community through the power of art. Trajectory: Posthumous Solo Exhibition of I Nyoman Sukari, which continues through 12 August at TBY, honours one of the true, late masters of Balinese art.

"Trunyan Series" 2007 - Nyoman Sukari. Image Richard Horstman                         Truyan Series, 2007 – Nyoman Sukari

 

"Menunggu Cuaca" 2008 - Nyoman Sukari, 145 x 200cm, oil on canvas. Image Richard Horstman                          Menunggu Cuaca, 2008 – Nyoman Sukari

 

Detail of watercolour composition on paper by Nyoman Sukari , circa 2008 - 2009 - Image Richard Horstman        Detail of watercolour composition on paper, 2007 – Nyoman Sukari

 

"Mantan Pemburu" 2009 - Nyoman Sukari, acrylic on canvas. Image Richard Horstman                          Mantan Pemburu, 2009 – Nyoman Sukari

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman