Tag Archives: Pita Maha Artists Collective

The Art of Pengosekan Village

Ketut Rudi. 2010                             Birds of Lod Tunduh, 2010  – Ketut Rudi

Balinese traditional art is the art of story telling. Its ancient narratives bring to life tales from the sacred Hindu and Buddhist texts, old Balinese and Javanese folklore, and accounts of daily life. Its purpose is to promote harmony within the community via examples of proper moral conduct.

During the past century indigenous art has been revolutionized via the meeting with Western art techniques and ideas into a ‘new’ genre that became known as Balinese modern traditional art. This art form thrived due to the development of new tourist markets, driven initially by the first wave of foreign visitors in the 1930’s, who after holidaying on Bali wished to purchase a memento to bring home. A distinctive feature of Balinese modern traditional art is the different village styles, or ‘schools’ that evolved over time, each with its own individual creative verve.

Cosmic Circle - Dewa Nyoman Batuan                                    Cosmic Circle – Dewa Nyoman Batuan

Stories from the other side of the canvas – both triumphant and tragic – of the artists and the events behind the art have enriched the ‘aura’ of Balinese modern traditional art while endearing a global audience. This is a tale about the art and some of the characters that have distinguished the art from the village of Pengosekan.

Overshadowed by the more famous styles of Ubud, Batuan and Sanur, Pengosekan, one kilometre south of Ubud, has its own art history, complete with unique figures, and signature styles. The most celebrated of all Pengosekan painters is Gusti Ketut Kobot (1917-1999), accredited as one of the leaders of the post-war changes in Balinese paintings, he was also an influential art teacher. Some of Kobot’s finest works are mythological featuring characters from the religious narratives, while he also responsible for creating the prototypes for the scenes of village life that would be ceaselessly imitated for mass production as tourist art.

Gusti Ketut Kobot, "Triwikrama" 1986, Image couresty of Larasati                                 Triwikrama, 1986  –  Gusti Ketut Kobot

Kobot’s renditions of characters that still today are brought to life in the Wayang Kulit shadow puppet theatre are executed with extraordinary attention to compositional balance. According to the Balinese paintings that achieve perfect visual equilibrium indicate the artist’s excellent skills, and his strong connection with the divine. Brahma on Wilmana, Kobot’s painting of the Hindu god of creation riding the monster headed mythical bird Wilmana, on permanent display at the Neka Art Museum in Sanggingan, Ubud is fine example of his talent.

Structured with outer layers of decorative patterns the central characters appear framed and effortlessly poised, Wilmana wears a magic protective poleng (black and white checkered cloth) around the waist to avert harmful forces, since it has positive white and negative black in balance. Kobot is renowned for such depictions, honing them to the height of refinement. He is acknowledged as one of the masters of the original Ubud artist’s cooperative, the Pita Maha that thrived between 1936-1945, helping establish Balinese modern traditional art.

Gusti Ketut Kobot."Scene from Ramayana Story" 50x70cm                         Scene from the Ramayana story  –  Gusti Ketut Kobot

The inhabitants of Pengosekan were predominantly farmers, tending the agricultural fields surrounding their village. In the process of breaking away from the orthodox subject matter that featured in their paintings, the artists began to look outside of the conventions for new creative inspiration, and started paying more attention to nature.

A signature style developed in Pengosekan during the 1960’s featuring images of local flora and fauna painted in fresh pastel colours. At first the artists focussed on depicting bird life set within beautiful scenarios of forests and trees, others then explored nature close-up, their compositions highlighting an array of insects, often grasshoppers or butterflies rendered in great detail.

Pengosekan Style                              Pengosekan fauna and flora style

One of the finest practitioners of the flora and fauna style is Ketut Rudi who was born in Lotonduh, just south of Pengosekan in 1943. His works were commissioned and collected by the second President of Indonesia, Suharto (1921-2008) and hang in the Presidential State Palaces around the country. Rudi often painted at the State Palace in Tampaksiring, Central Bali, while Suharto was on retreat from the nation’s capital city, Jakarta. To ease his mind Suharto would often sit for hours watching Rudi at work.

Another painter, Ketut Liyer (1924-2016) was a local village priest (pemangku) who painted agricultural scenes and the sacred cloth amulets known as rerajahan. Liyer, who was also a paranormal and ‘healer’, shot to international fame via the Hollywood movie Eat, Pray, Love released in 2010 and starring Julia Roberts. Liyer’s paintings occasionally come up for auction at the twice-yearly Larasati Bali art sales held in Ubud.

Dewa Put Mokoh, 2006, Acrylic on canvas 60x90cm.                                      Dewa Putu Mokoh, 2006

Dewa Nyoman Batuan (1939-2013) was an icon within the world of Balinese art. Painter, entrepreneur and artist community visionary, he was graced with an effervescent personality. Batuan had a dream for his village that manifested into the Pengosekan Community of Artists in 1970.  Through his entrepreneurial endeavor he helped establish international markets for the local paintings and was able to contribute enormously for the well-being of the community of poor farmers, many who became painters to supplement their family income. Batuan’s contribution to the development of Balinese modern traditional art was to fuse traditional narratives within the Buddhist structural icon of the mandala, designing compelling, unique, and highly original works.

His older brother, Dewa Putu Mokoh (1934-2010) broke free from the restraints of Balinese art to introduce personal and intimate visual stories of another side of life that was often quirky, lurid, and even taboo. Simplified forms dominated his compositions, a self trained artist, Mokoh’s works boarded on both the modern and contemporary, simplifying and extending the range of images in Balinese art, especially with his close-up focus on intimate scenes.

I GAK MURNIASIH - SEMBAHYANG 104 - AOC - 170 x 100 cm - 2004                                   Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih

Pengosekan became the adopted home for the most important woman artist in Indonesian art history, Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih (1966-2006). Murni came from Tabanan, Central Bali to study with Mokoh. She rose from the life as a child of a farmer, poor and uneducated to the ranks of artistic distinction. Her father sexually abused her at the age of nine. Murni’s minimalist figurative/surrealistic style featured powerful coloration while communicating via the language of the sub conscious. Her outsider art is confrontational, daring and even violent, yet always electrifying. Murni’s work broke significant grounds into the social taboos of gender politics and feminism.

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

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Previewing Larasati’s Traditional, Modern & Contemporary Art Auction, Bali, 11 February 2017

 

lot-304-djedeng             Devotion – a unique modernist wood craving by Ketut Djedeng

Upcoming this weekend, Saturday 11 February Larasati Auctioneers present an excellent array of predominantly Balinese traditional art for sale. Lot #335 Dewi Tidur, is a poetic depiction of a sleeping goddess being watched over by nature spirits, by 36-year-old Made Griyawan, a rising star of the renown Batuan school. This is just one of the seventy items of fine art going under the hammer from 3pm at Traditional, Modern & Contemporary Art auction to be held in Ubud, Bali.

lot-339-nadera-ida-bagus-made                   Pertunjukan Arja 1991 – Ida Bagus Made Nadera

From sketches on paper in ink and pastel, to lithographs, woodcarvings, and paintings from various genres of Balinese traditional art, along with some rare gems on offer. The quality of works, along with the price ranges make Saturday’s auction attractive to both the connoisseur, and the new buyer wishing to enter the market at affordable rates. The following is a few recommendations.

lot-325-kayun-i-nyoman              Sacred Sang Hyang Dedari Dance – Nyoman Kayun

Auction highlights for the connoisseurs include works by deceased masters of the 1930’s Pita Maha artists collective, Lot# 363 Sita Satya, by Gusti Ketut Kobot (Pengosekan1917-199) with an estimated price between Rp. 90,000,000 – 130,000,000. Pementasan Calonarang, Lot# 362, by Ida Bagus Made Togog (Batuan 1913-1980) has an estimated price between Rp. 100,000,000 – 125,000,000, and Upacara Potong Gigi, Lot# 352, by Ida Bagus Made Widja (Batuan 1912-1992), with an estimated price between Rp.20,000,000 – 25,000,000, are all strong compositions of balance and harmony.

lot-343-jan-portenaar-javanese-dancer-ooc-91x60                            Javanese Dancer 1958 – Jan Christiaan Poortenaar

Two founding fathers of the Pita Maha are also featured; Bali’s iconic modernist Gusti Nyoman Lempad (1862-1978), Lot #360, Erotic Scene, has excellent provenance with an estimated price between Rp. 35,000,000 – 45,000,000, and influential Dutch artist Rudolf Bonnet (1895-1978), his pastel on paper depiction, Portrait of a Balinese Boy 1956, Lot# 323, has an estimated price between Rp.100,000,000 – 125,000,000.

rudolf-bonnet-portrait-of-balinese-boy               Portrait of a Balinese Boy 1956 – Rudolf Bonnet

Much attention will be focused upon the following lots, Upacara di Pura, 1979, Lot # 314 by popular Sumatran painter Rusli (1922-2005), with an estimated price between Rp. 30,000,000 – 40,000,000. Noted woman Balinese painter Ni Gusti Agung Galuh’s Beautiful Scenery, Lot# 317, with an estimate between Rp. 38,000,000 – 48,000,000, depicts sunlit rice terraces within a mountainous landscape. Lot# 325, Sacred Sang Hyang Dedari Dance, by Nyoman Kayun (b. 1954,Peliatan, Ubud) with an estimated price between Rp. 180,000,000 – 230,000,000, for its size is a rare find. Upacar Melasti, Lot# 353 by Wayan Matra has an estimate price between Rp. 75,000,000 – 95,000,000, the setting sun glows red upon the focal point of a Balinese religious ceremony.

lot-363-kobot-i-gusti-ketut                     Sita Satya ca, 1950’s – Gusti Ketut Kobot

Buyers with an eye for a bargain take note, if purchased within their estimate prices the following lots, including the fore mentioned Lot #335 Dewi Tidur, all represent good buying. Hanoman Membangan Jembatan Rama Setu, Lot # 361, ink on paper by Gusti Made Deblog (1906-1986 Denpasar), has an estimated price between Rp. 20,000,000 – 25,000,000. Kegiatan di Sawah 1963, Lot# 319, by master of the Pitamaha, Ida Bagus Made Nadera, estimated between Rp. 15,000,000 – 20,000,000, and Devotion, a modernist wood carving by Ketut Djedeng, Lot #304, has an estimate price between Rp. 1,500,000 – 2,500,000.

lot-364-sutama-i-made                  World of Dreams, 2016 – Made Sutama

Lots # 364-368 represent special long-term investment buying opportunities, being five works of the nine finalists of the first TiTian Prize. Honoured for innovation in Balinese art, the awards were presented during the one-year anniversary of the TiTian Bali Foundation, 29 January 2017. Lot# 364, World of Dreams in the Keliki style by Made Sutama has an estimated price between by Rp. 50,000,000 – 60,000,000. Nature Teasing, Lot# 368 by an exciting new talent of Batuan, twenty-two-year-old Wayan Aris Sarmanta has an estimated price between Rp. 20,000,000 – 25,000,000. Sarmanta, along with Gede Suryawan, Lot# 367, Living in Nature, are emerging artists with promising futures.   A set of three woodcarvings, Emotion II, Lot# 366, by Made Supena also offer good buying at prices estimated between Rp. 15,000,000 -20,000,000.

lot-353-matra-i-wayan                              Upacar Melasti 2013 – Wayan Matra

Other noted artists include influential Dutchman Arie Smit (1916-2016), with four works on offer, Joko Pekik, Wayan Bendi, and Dewa Putu Mokoh, while Jan Christiaan Poortenaar’s (1886-1958), Javanese Dancer, Lot # 343 is a beautiful composition featuring exquisite negative spaces. The proceeds of Lot # 369 The Bible by Korean artist Lee Ji Hyun, and Lot# 370 Portrait of a Gentleman, by Gerard Pieter Adolfs (1889-1968) will benefit non-commercial art programs on Balinese traditional art.

As an alternative to conventional investments buying art and holding for the long- term, 10-20 years can prove to be sound financial planning, often appreciating ten fold. The market for Balinese traditional art is considered by experts as still being undervalued.

lot-314-rusli                                          Upacara di Pura, 1979 – Rusli

Buyers bidding over the phone, or live online who are unable to attend the previews days or auction are advised to contact Larasati and inquire about the color reproduction accuracy of the images contained within the online catalogue to ensure that what they wish to purchase can be realistically gaged. Condition reports of the works, outlining the paintings current state and whether it has repairs or over painting are available upon request. Provenance, the historical data of the works previous owner/s is also important.

lot-342-rudin-i-ketut                                              Tari Baris – Ketut Rudin

Viewing:

Thursday, 9 February   11am – 7.30pm

Friday, 10 February     11am – 7.30pm

Saturday 11 February   11am – 1pm

Auction: Saturday 11 February, from 3 pm

Larasati Bali Art Space

Jalan Jatayu, Tebesaya, Peliatan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

 

Words: Richard Horstman

Images Courtesy: Larasati Auctioneers