Tag Archives: Tony Raka Art Gallery

The Cosmic Worlds of Visionary Balinese Artist Putu Wirantawan

Putu Wirantawan 2016

 

Rarely in Bali does the observer have the opportunity to experience art of such a unique and “other worldly” quality as created Balinese contemporary artist Putu Wirantawan. The fundamental key to Balinese traditional art is drawing, for Wirantawan, however, it serves a different function to that of his artistic forefathers.

About 15 years ago Wirantawan (b.1972 Negara, Jembrana, West Bali) became overwhelmed by what he perceived as a block in his artistic development. Yet, unbeknown to him at the time, he was in the formative stages of creative innovation. Having learned to draw and paint in his youth, actively exhibiting since 1993, and a graduate in Fine Arts from the ISI Yogyakarta 2005, (Indonesian Art Institute), Wirantawan had already become competent in the mediums of oil and acrylic paint, along with water-color to produce figurative and abstract works. Wirantawan, however, had become bored with these genres and wished to break free.

                                         Soulscape II, 2010 – Putu Wirantawan

His solution was to return to the basics of drawing. Wirantawan followed his intuitive urges and focused on spontaneous ideas that evolved into unexplainable sketches. He completed page after page in his sketch pad until eventually the idea blossomed, why not piece together some of these works into larger compositions.

Wirantawan’s process is determined by the flow of imaginative energy between his conscious and subconscious minds. The freedom and flexibility within his technique allows him to arrive at authentic compositions that he believes would be impossible to initially conceive – a powerful creative element had returned to his art along with seemingly endless possibilities to explore.

Working in pencil and ballpoint pen on paper, enhanced with a touch of color Wirantawan draws on the fundamentals of surrealism and abstract art.  “Many of my ideas come from the simplest of objects or from observations of the atmospheric, such as the elements of sunlight, fire, water and smoke,” says Wirantawan. “The elements contain a magic that ignites my imagination and I then transform the shapes I see into something new.”

             Tebaran Energi Sejati, 2008-2012, 9 panels, 2915 x 1260 cm – Putu Wirantawan

“Drawing is a flexible and spontaneous technic, it can be done wherever and whenever, and is not affected by the material drying quickly or still being wet. Drawing nurtures new spirit that enables me to feel free to explore my flowing ideas,” Wirantawan said. “Drawing is soul therapy for the mental burdens resulting from challenges in daily life.”

Often described as a visionary Balinese artist, Wirantawan’s works invite the observer into an abstract world of geometric structures that appear like futuristic cities, galactic landscapes and vast sanctums in the outer most reaches of the cosmos. While his work is truly contemporary and free of traditional Balinese aesthetics and the orthodox approach, there is a deep relationship to the Balinese Hindu philosophical universal view.

Initially, Wirantawan’s works appear almost cryptic and strange, yet they mysteriously radiate a warmth with an unexplainable fascination to the eye. The core structural content of his work is based on the principles of sacred geometry, in which arrangements of lines within harmonic proportions produce systems and symbols that resonate with the subconscious mind.

                                Gugusan Citra Batin, 1236011, 2011 – Putu Wirantawan

Wirantawan often utilizes the circle, which is nature’s perfect symbol, appearing like floating disks, planets and glowing orbs with auras radiating light. “Geometry is the essence and structure of all natural shapes on earth and in the solar system.   All cycles of life and natural phenomena follow a repetitive circular order of birth, death and then rebirth,” he said.

The geometrical symbols Wirantawan uses are governed by a mathematical ratio known as the Golden Ratio, first devised by the ancient Greek mathematicians defining an invisible order that regulates the 3 dimensional proportions of the earth plane. These harmonic proportions were used in the design of sacred buildings in ancient and renaissance architecture to produce a spiritual energy that is believed to facilitate connectivity with a higher universal intelligence.

The coloration of Wirantawan’s works contains the most basic of all visual dualities – black and its interrelationship with the color white. The impact of color psychology, the advancing nature of the white upon black creates dramatic depth of field. Some imagery simply morphs from light to dark and flows in and out of discernible surrealistic forms.

Wirantawan has won a series of awards and honors, including nomination as one of the 10 best Indonesian artists in 2000 Philip Morris Art Awards, as well as being a finalist in the International Triennial “Print and Drawing” in Bangkok, Thailand 2008 and again in 2012.

Blissful Line, Wirantawan’s 2015 solo exhibition at the Tony Raka Art Gallery in Ubud, featured hundreds of his sketches on papers covering the gallery’s walls, the focal point of attraction, however, was his extraordinary, and new venture into installation. Gugusan Energi Alam Batin (the Configuration of the Natural Energy of the Soul), 606 x 246 x 312 cm.  Within the context of contemporary Balinese art Wirantawan has developed a dynamic individual style, both beautiful and compelling, that clearly stands alone.

IMGP9421                           Gugusan Energi Alam Batin – Putu Wirantawan

IMGP9400                             Sketches by Putu Wirantawan

IMGP9397

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

 

 

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The Bali Art Scene 2016: The Final Six Months Overview

15878100_120300001416662373_1113857188_oBudi Agung Kuswara with patient from Rumah Berdaya, a community based psycho-social rehabilitation center utilizing art as a tool for creative solutions.

 

The concluding six months of events on the 2016 Bali art calendar were exceptionally busy; the following are some of the highlights of the closing half of the year:

In late May contemporary artist Budi Agung Kuswara, co-founder of Ketemu Project Space, began his special art project in Denpasar, co facilitated by a professional psychiatrist at “Rumah Berdaya”, a community based psycho-social rehabilitation center utilizing art as a tool for creative solutions. The project continued throughout the year providing activities for people with schizophrenia to encourage social interactions through art making, productivity and independence while expressing their ideas and thinking.

Skizofriends Art Movement will be an ongoing program following on from the success of Budi and colleague’s lobbying of the Denpasar Government to become supporters. In 2017 it will become a part of the Denpasar City Department Health Care Program, while Skizofriends Art Movement was involved in activities at the Denpasar Festival 2016 28-31 December at Lapangan Puputan, Denpasar.   Budi must be congratulated on this initiative aimed at empowering individuals and building community through engaging the public through the potent creative forces of art.

made-valasaraValasara’s Konstruksi semesta, semesta yang teralienasi menpertanyakan kediriannya dalam ekspresi tunggal.

Made Valasara made a conspicuous presence during ArtJog 9’s Universal Influence 27 May opening at the Jogja National Museum in Yogyakarta, Central Java. Being the only Bali based Balinese artist invited to exhibit his work was both an honour and an excellent opportunity for exposure to large national and international audiences. Valasara’s installation, konstruksi semesta, semesta yang teralienasi menpertanyakan kediriannya dalam ekspresi tunggal, a series of 25 individual works of various sizes, overall dimensions of 230 x 520cm stood out for its originality.

Adopting the canvas as a standalone medium, along with sewing techniques, he layers and fills the canvas to create 3 dimensional embossed and debossed compositions. His small white figures, presented behind glass revealed his evolving technique with the innovation of his debossed works. Valasara’s attention to narrative development too, revealed an engaging Balinese narrative.

widyantara-i-gede-late-hero-115-x-81-cm-acrylic-on-canvas-2015Gede Widyantara’s Last Hero 2016 which may be viewed upside down to reveal a demonic face.

Traces Under the Surface: Batuan Painting Exhibition, 3 June -31 July at TiTian Art Space, Ubud explored artistic lineage that evolved in the renowned village of traditional painting, Batuan. The exhibition focussed upon the teacher/student relationship following on from Nyoman Ngendon (1906-1946), a multi talented artist and innovator who experimented with perspectives, creating “unreal” 3 dimensionality within the early rigid framework of the Batuan paintings. Ngendon’s great distinction was that he believed in sharing his techniques, while persuading his students to break with traditions and become art innovators themselves.

Traces Under the Surface featured the lineage of Wayan Taweng (1922-2004) who learned to paint primarily from Ngendon, beginning at the age of eight, and later teaching his sons Ketut Sadia (b.1966), Wayan Diana (b.1977) and Made Griyawan (b.1979), along with others. Paintings by the fore mentioned Balinese artists, and Taweng’s grandson Gede Widyantara (b.1984) proved to be some of the finest examples of the Batuan genre and its process of innovation. Widyantara’s talent, that belies his age, reveals that the future of Batuan painting will indeed by exciting.

imhatthai-suwwathanasilp-murnis-temple-mixed-media-human-hair-thread-wood-glue-31-x-18-x-10-cm-image-courtesy-of-ketemu-project-spaceSleeping Murni by Thai artist Imhathai Suwatthanaslip, made with Murni’s hair.

A unique, palpable buzz welcomed the opening of Merayakan Murni (Celebrating Murni) 16 July at Sudakara Art Space, Sanur. The project, which gathered local and regional artists to create works in response to the legacy of the iconic female Balinese artist I GAK Murniasih (1966-2006) “Murni” proved to be one of the most anticipated Bali art events of recent history. Some of the highlights were works by artists Illa from Singapore, renowned Dutch “Indonesian” artist Mella Jaarsma, Imhathai Suwatthanaslip from Thailand, along with Punia Atmaja and Citra Sasmita from Bali.

Murni was an artist of rare quality, unequalled in Indonesia at least. Along with such reverence comes great emotional attachment to the artist by her many friends and admirers, the exhibition therefore was not without critics. Some critics stated the Sudakara venue was too small and the exhibition included too many international artists, and as a consequence failed grant enough space in order for Murni’s ouvre to be fully appreciated by the audience, many of which had yet to be exposed to her work.

Others thought the exhibition overly ambitious, attempting to achieve too much, too soon, while the film about Murni could have represented a more positive theme. Event organizers Ketemu Project Space, along with their young and energetic team proved, however that their presence on the Bali art scene is indeed exciting, with enormous, yet to be realized potential.

20160703_112528                            At The Point of View#4 – Radwin Nurlatif

At The Point of View opened Friday 1 July at Santrian Gallery Sanur, with Radwin Nurlatif presenting one of the most outstanding photography exhibitions of 2016. Curated by Rifky Effendy, the exhibition captivated not only for its high standards of technical quality and presentation of superbly beautiful aesthetic and conceptual images (giclée prints on Hahnemühle photo rag ultra smooth 305 gsm), yet in the simplicity of some of the digital images that wonderfully contrasted women with nature, or women in surreal compositions.

kemal-ezedine-2016-asj-image-richard-horstmanKemal Ezedine was represented by Edwin’s Gallery Jakarta at Art Stage Jakarta 2016

The presence of Balinese artists at Indonesia’s two international art fairs held in Jakarta, Art Stage Jakarta 5-7 August & Bazaar Art Jakarta 2016 25-28 August help to consolidate Bali’s growing presence on the Indonesian art world, which during recent years has tended to be dominated by artists from Java and West Sumatra. While Art Stage, among its hundreds of exhibitors featured only three Indonesian Bali based artists, Agung Mangu Putra, Made Valasara and Kemal Ezedine (along with Ashley Bickerton), Bazaar Art Jakarta, on the other hand featured the work of 13 artists.

From the traditional genre was Nyoman Meja (b. 1950, Ubud), others artists present were Nyoman Gunarsa, Made Wianta, Nyoman Erawan, Agung Mangu Putra, Gede Mahendra Yasa, Wayan Kun Adnyana, Teja Astawa, Kemal Ezedine, Ketut Moniarta, Tang Adiawan, Putu Wirantawan, Wayan Mandiyasa and Ketut Sumadi. Erawan’s installation at the Mon Décor Art One booth provided a strong contrast to what was on display at the fair, while being deeply engaging.

mangu-putra-pura-puncak-mangu-2016-oil-on-canvas-200x300cm                Pura Puncak Mangu 2016 – Agung Mangu Putra

Paskal Gallery’s acute eye for display, allowing attendees from a distance to be captured by the alluring and mysterious qualities of the 190 x 290 cm oil on canvas composition Pura Puncak Mangu, by Agung Mangu Putra confirmed why he is regarded as one of Indonesia’s most respected painters. His scene of a group of Balinese people praying at the remote mountain top temple in Buleleng was one of the highlights of Bazaar Art. The Neo Pitamaha collective made a strong presence at Bazaar Art with works exhibited by four artists and Jakarta’s Edwin’s Gallery confirmed their confidence in Kemal Ezedine by dedicating their entire booth at both fairs to the Ubud resident artist.

Sanur based Swedish painter Richard Winkler, also present at both fairs represented by Zola Zulu Gallery of Bandung, also enjoyed strong sales with his eye-catching and technically brilliant ‘utopian Bali’ compositions. Sotheby’s presented contemporary works by Mangu Putra and Mahendra Yasa in the preview of their Hong Kong Autumn Sale, while Sidharta Auctioneers presented Gunarsa and Meja, and ISA Art Advisory presented modern works by Arie Smit (1919-2016) and Adrian Le Mayeur (1880-1958).

ida-bagus-made-nadera-fajar-mengjingsing-1949                   Ida Bagus Made Nadera – Fadjar Mengjingsing 1945

A landmark event in the history of Indonesian modern art, held from 2 – 30 August at Jakarta’s National Gallery of Indonesia was 17/71, Goresan Juang Kemerdekaan (Brushstrokes of the Independence Struggle). Presenting 28 paintings from the collection (over 3000 works) assembled by Indonesia’s founding father President Sukarno the exhibition was opened on August 17th, on the 71st anniversary of the proclamation of independence by the Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Ida Bagus Made Nadera’s (1912-1988) beautiful 188 x 300 cm modern traditional composition Fadjar Mengjingsing made a special presence, along with works by Walter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet in an exhibition featuring scenes of the independence struggle by Indonesian maestros such as Affandi, Sudjojono and Srihadi alongside pictures of iconic Indonesia.

20160827_191628                                                  Arie Smit (1916-2016)

During the 27 August seminar at Ubud’s Neka Art Museum, a gathering of over 100 members of the Balinese art community, and distinguished guests Suteja Neka and Agung Rai, and paid homage to the legacy of the Dutch post-modern colourist Arie Smit (1916-2016). The iconic painter, who left a distinguished mark in the history of art in the region, passed away 23 March, only days short of his 100th birthday.

Renowned for his vibrant landscape paintings and scenes of Balinese village life Smit is a much-loved artist; his work forms part of collections in Indonesia, and throughout the world.

He started teaching painting to young boys in the village of Penestanan in 1960, beginning the “Young Artists Style”, while at its height there were more than 300 practitioners. He helped transform the village, and prosper economically, being both an art teacher and a father figure to the village. Smit’s passing is a monumental loss to the canon of Southeast Asian art, while the Young Artist Style is one of the most exciting developments in Balinese art in the later half of the 20th Century.

made-wianta-receives-the-award-from-bali-governor-mangu-pastikaMade Wianta receives the Bali Mandara Parama Nugraha 2016 Award from the Governor Mangku Pastika.

A special 30 August ceremony at Taman Budaya Cultural Center Denpasar by the Bali Government honoured local figures who have made important contributions to Bali. An icon of Bali contemporary art, internationally renowned, Made Wianta (b. 1949, Tabanan) received the Bali Mandara Parama Nugraha 2016 Award from the Governor Mangku Pastika in highest appreciation of promoting Bali through contemporary art.

14642015_1359257894086482_2982552466485278854_n

Often overshadowed by the southern regencies of Gianyar, Badung and Tabanan, Buleleng is not only home to a unique Balinese art history (Van Der Tuuk in 1845 and his commissioning of Balinese artists work for his research into the first dictionary of the Balinese language), yet a community of talented artists. Exhibitions by artists from Buleleng are held annually in the southern regencies, and on 22 October Qilin – Membaca Social Budaya Warga Pecinan Kota Singaraja (Socio-cultural readings of Singaraja’s Chinatown Residents) opened at Neka Art Museum in Ubud, and continued for one month.

Based upon curatorial research led by Hardiman, from the Art Department of UNDISKHA University in Singaraja, along with his young team of Made Susanta Dwitanaya, Dewa Gede Purwita, Ketut Wisana Ariyanto and Gede Panca Gautama, into the culture of the Chinese Tionghoa community, the group exhibition delved into spiritual and religious practises, artefacts and there traces, stories from their literature, and portraits of figures from the community. Of the many highlights were the eight collective works, including Spreading Qilin, an installation of terracotta Chinese dragon characters.

20161023_161947A Brutal Contrast of Concrete and Kamasan Painting combined street art along with paintings from selected emerging local talent from Batuan, Ubud, Tabanan and Denpasar.

Cahyendra Putra and the Neo Pitamaha Invite You To: A Brutal Contrast of Concrete and Kamasan Painting opened 23 October will be recorded in the annals of Balinese art history. The outsider exhibition, which in many ways was noteworthy, was underpinned by a long-awaited and fresh approach to presenting art in Ubud, outside of the conventional gallery, art space and museum format.

This collaborative project, organized by Kemal Ezedine, features street art by artists from Bali & Jakarta, along with paintings from selected emerging local talent from Batuan, Ubud, Tabanan and Denpasar. Set within the gutted interior of a building, twenty young artists revealed their interpretation of the famous Bali 1930’s Pita Maha artist’s association in dynamic contemporary art that challenges the establishment. Highlights included works by Wayan Budiarta, Wayan Aris Sumanta and street artists Ego, Saf, Ola, and Slinart.

20160817_111722                                      Bali LandscapesWillem Kerseboom

Bali Landscapes by Dutch painter Willem Kerseboom opened at TiTian Art Space, Ubud 28 October (continuing until late January 2017). Kerseboom, who shares his time between Holland/Belgium and his home North Bali presented acrylic landscape compositions of a rare quality. His imaginary, abstract snapshots, are deeply engaging, while being a fine creative contribution to the long line of Dutch artists who have been inspired by Bali.

jiri-kudrna-light-plane-photography                             Light Plain Photographs – Jiri Kudrna

Ubud based Swiss engineer and software developer Jiri Kudrna, a pioneer in experimental photography has made major contributions to the development of contemporary photography. Kudrna’s contributions to Age of Photography #2, open 15 – 28 November at the National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta were from his inventions that created Light Plain Photographs (LPP), and his three interactive installations, Space – Time Variations.

 LPP’s are fantastic images using a plain of light and a camera to record photographs with unique optic effects – a fusion of the four-time space dimensions – while the subject is housed within a dark room and participates within their own unique photographic procedure. Kudrna’s Space – Time Variations were very popular with exhibition audience who created over 1800 pictures in four days, and were also able to upload the images onto social media platforms.

Power Playing works by Arum & Ida Adi.jpg                      Power Playing – Images by Arum & Ida Adi at Lingkara

Lingkara Photography Community of Denpasar is an alternative platform for contemporary photographers in Bali. Over recent years Lingkara have presented a range of quality collaborative exhibitions and events. Driven by a small core group of dedicated artists Lingkara not only strive to support the collective, yet seek out professional opportunities by engaging with and representing artists via product development and management.

Power Playing opened 20 November presenting mostly large-scale works by Candra Mpu Glimblond, Christina Arum, Ida Adi, Ismail Ilmi, Rudi Waisnawa and S.R. Awy. While the artists individual techniques involved varying processes, such as re printing images, painting, collage with the help of additional tools, mirrors, candles and magnifying tools to make impressions, the final large-scale results which were applied to the walls were a single photograph without digital enhancement. Lingkara are making important contributions to the development of contemporary photography in Bali and Power Playing was a very strong collective showing, while Arum’s technically labor intensive work was one of the highlights.

mangu-putra-2016-puputan-badung-the-fall-of-badung-kingdom-2-oil-on-canvas-370-x-150-cm         Puputan Badung 1906 (The Fall of Badung Kingdom # 1) – Agung Mangu Putra

Agung Mangu Putra: Between History and the Quotidian ran from 25 November – 12 December at Singapore’s Gajah Gallery. Mangu Putra continues his research into critical Dutch colonial events that shaped Indonesian and Balinese history. Highlights were Puputan Badung 1906 (The Fall of Badung Kingdom # 1& 2) 2016 & 2014, compositions pieced together from archival accounts and images into enormous paintings up 370 x 1590 cm in size. The works reveal 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’s investigation into these events are important because these events occurred during a crucial era of the nation’s history and theses events without more historical examination may become historical myths.

20170103_170338                     Ashley Bickerton‘s sculptures at Follow the White Cube

The Pop-Up gallery concept is new to Ubud, Bali and was successfully adopted by Honold Fine Art twice in 2016. Follow the White Cube opened 26 November at Italian artist Filippo Sciascia’s studio in Nyuh Kuning. The exhibition featured work by artists Jumaldi Alfi, Marco Cassani, Ashley Bickerton, Fendry Ekel, Bepi Ghiotti, Yusra Mantunus, Narcisse Tordior and Filippo Sciascia.

Set within a ‘white cube’ display areas that lent well to strong, yet conventional viewing experience, the works ranged from paintings through to sculpture, installation and video art presented exciting contrasts. While the spontaneity of the Pop-Up concept is a fresh and much-needed addition to the Ubud art scene.

doors-of-perception-made-aswino-aji                              Doors of Perception 2016 – Made Aji Aswino

CROSSING: Beyond Baliseering presented some of the finest emerging contemporary artist from Bali at Forty-Five Downstairs Gallery, Melbourne, Australia, open 6 December. Reflecting upon Bali’s visual and social culture while exploring themes of personal life experiences, environmental, social and political issues in the contemporary society, the exhibition showcased paintings, photography, sculptures, and large-scale installations.

In the most important international group showing of Balinese contemporary art outside of Indonesia that featured Art of Whatever, Made Aji Aswino, Budi Agung Kuswara, Citra Sasmita, Kemal Ezedine, Made ‘Dalbo’ Suarimbawa, Natisa Jones, Slinat, Made Valasara, Wayan Upadana and Yoesoef Olla, highlights included Aswino Aji’s monumental two-sided wood craving installation, Doors of Perception 2016, 250 x 300 x 80 cm, a representation of a candi (traditional Balinese temple entry), along with works by‘Dalbo’ Suarimbawa, Upadana, Slinart and Citra Sasmita.

5-kasper-x-nedsone-teges-ubud                                 Lukas Kasper& Nedsone at work during Way Up

Bali’s ever evolving street art movement is increasingly discovering new sights to enliven along the streets of urban Denpasar and within the villages of the Badung and Gianyar Regencies. Way UpStreet Art Collaboration Project initiated by Cata Odata, Allcapsstore and Lukas Kasper began in November 2016 and will continue through until the end of January 2017.

The project was born through the meeting of Cata Odata and Australian artist Lukas Kasper beginning with the idea to contribute vibrantly to Ubud’s street areas and to collaborate with nine street artists from Bali on 20 walls. Local artists include Nedsone, Kmis3, Lezart, Slinat, Yapstwo, Sleeck, and 1escv. The event included the Way Up online map on the website and the 17 December Spray Jam workshop, and Kelas Belajar sharing session 18 December at Cata Odat, and the #UbudScavengerHunt. 17 December through 11 January which will include a prize to the winner.

http://way-up.cataodata.com/follow-the-map.html

putu-wirantawan-2016                  Contemporary Art from Bali – Installation by Putu Wirantawan 2016

Contemporary Art from Bali opened 15 December at LAF (Langgeng Art Foundation) Yogyakarta, and continues through until 31 January 2017. Curated by Rifky Effendy and Gede Mahendra Yasa the show featured some of the finest contemporary artists currently working in Bali, foreigners, Indonesians and Balinese: Ketut Susena, Ketut Samadi, Made Aswino Aji, Teja Astawa, Natisa Jones, Wayan Mandiyasa, Ketut Suwidiarta, Putu Wirantawan, Ashley Bickerton, Marco Cassani, Filippo Sciascia, Ketut Moniarta, Kemal Ezedine, Wayan Upadana, Made Valasara and Rodney Glick.

Overshadowed by the traditional art scene, and often overlooked within the context of the Indonesian art world contemporary art and the art infrastructure is on the rise in Bali. Making an important statement within the context of Indonesian contemporary art, in the Javanese cultural and creative heartland with its ever-evolving art infrastructure and eco system, this exhibition is the most important collective showing of contemporary art from Bali held in Indonesia in 2016.

20161230_175209                        Inside of Being  – Installation by Pande Ketut Taman 2016

The 30 December opening at the Tony Raka Art Gallery punctuated the end of 2016 and friendship and creative achievement by four Balinese contemporary artists, alumni of the Indonesian Art Insititue SI Yogyakarta. Inside of Being highlighted the talents of Putu Sutawijaya, Made Sumadiyasa, Made Mahendra Mangku & Pande Ketut Taman, artists who have shared friendships for over 30 years, while at the same time during their individual careers making significant contributions to the development of Balinese art. The exhibition, which includes paintings, both small and large-scale, and installations will continue through until 30 January, including an Artist’s Talk from 3pm 5 January at Tony Raka Art Gallery.

Such a report would not be fully complete without highlighting the stoic efforts of Warih Witsatsana and his small army of dedicated assistants at the Bentara Budaya Bali Cultural Center. Their consistent weekly programs throughout the year are a shining light in the support and development of Bali’s thriving creative culture.

With an emphasis upon education via lectures, discussions, presentations and hands on workshops, especially for the younger generations, Bentara Budaya’s one of a kind model is an inspiration to other aspiring art and cultural facilities on the island. 2016’s broad range of events, including numerous collaborations with international artists, institutes, and organizations highlights their open platform to global cultural expressions, while underlining Bali’s internationally renowned welcoming attitude to foreign cultures and creative expressions.

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: Richard Horstman & various photographers

 

 

 

 

ABAD FOTOGRAFI: the Age of Photography #2

yasu-suzuka_resized                Tapestry of Buddhist Monks Hands – Installation by Yasu Suzuka

The origins of the ABAD FOTOGRAFI – The Age of Photography exhibition that opened at the National Gallery of Indonesia in Jakarta 15 November may be traced back to 2013, and the artistic and cultural heartland of Bali, Ubud.

A small group of senior photographers from Jakarta traveled to Bali to do some shooting assignments and met up with expat photographers from various countries who reside in Bali. This spontaneous meet-up developed into serious discussion and eventually expanded, involving more photographers, both local and international.

Inspired by developments and the diversity in the world of photography, the idea of organizing a joint exhibition came about to show this diversity; an exhibition featuring photography of the most conventional, to the most progressive works.

sjaiful-boen                ‘Pemahaman Nenek Luh…!!!’– Installation by Sjaiful Boen

The Age of Photography – Intentions and Transparency in Photographs opened 12 December 2013 at the Tony Raka Art Gallery in Ubud, presenting the work of leading Indonesian and expatriate professional and amateur photographers. Senior Indonesian curator Jim Supangkat brought together 29 photographers from Indonesia, America, Japan, Australia and Europe in an exhibition full of contrasts and delights.

One of the highlights was by Swiss born engineer and software developer Jiri Kudrna, a pioneer in experimental photography. Kudrna’s photo machine created fantastic images – a fusion of the four time space dimensions – housed within a dark room in the gallery and allowed observers to participate within his unique procedure.

“The picture take process is a complex choreography between the photographer, model and machine with often almost unpredictable results. Randomness is a desired and calculated part of the process,” Kudrna said.

james-wilkins                                                  Conflict – James Wilkins

Given the current revolution in digital smartphone technology that includes cameras as a functional component photography is now been accessed by the masses. While most are obsessed with self-empowerment via “selfies” and posting the images onto social media platforms, many too are exploring the greater creative and practical potentials of photography. As a consequence the opening of The Age of Photography #2 in Jakarta attracted an enormous crowd, along with much media attention.

The exhibition featured a huge array of diversity by a group of twenty local and international photographers. Works are printed on stone, acrylic glass, cloth and bamboo, cyanotypes, pinhole shots, analog processed pictures, hi-res landscapes, along with abstract images difficult to identify as photographs. While being more experimental than the first exhibition in 2013 some of the highlights of The Age of Photography #2 include American photographer, artist and designer based in New York and Bali James Wilkins’ two technically perfect, huge abstracts of body armor.

Conflict is a complex, layered consideration of both the interpersonal, micro aspects of psychology and being, and the macro themes of conflict throughout the history of time,” Wilkins said.

kun-tanubrata                                  Images by Kun Tanubrata

Popular with the local media, Indonesian photographer Sjaiful Boen exhibited two political,  controversial, and censored installations, ‘Pemahaman Nenek Luh…!!!’ & “As Your Grandmother’s Understanding…!!!’ featuring Jakarta’s currently besieged Governor Ahok. Boen’s interactive installations talk to the audience.

Renowned Japanese photographer Yasu Suzuka (b.1947) contributes an impressive installation Tapestry of Buddhist Monks Hands, featuring textiles with large black and white dye printed images of praying monk hands, hung in unison. His installation resonates with a potent contemplative aura while being a message for world peace. At the center of the ‘Praying Hands’ work there is a pinhole photograph showing the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome in Japan.

Prominent Balinese painter Agung Mangu Putra works shine with the simplicity and genius. De Ja Vu #5, a black and white image printed on paper captures a twisted cloth seemingly captured floating in mid air, set against gloomy skies and an ocean seascape. “Photography is a medium that allows me to express ideas and thoughts that I cannot achieve using conventional mediums,” Mangu Putra said.

jiri-kudrna-1                                 Light Plane Photographs by Jiri Kudrna

Indonesian photographer Hermandari Kartowisastra (b.1943) presents two beautiful black and white minimal landscape images printed on aluminum silver brush, Ekuilibrium 1 & 2. Presenting the works side-by-side she splits the images in the middle with the horizon line contrasting light and dark skies upon empty, surreal landscapes. Kun Tanubrata (b.1947) exhibits four beautiful works printed on rattan mats, Aku Bertanya is both elegant yet haunting in its simplicity and comes complete within the exhibition catalog with a complementing poetic verse.

Again Jiri Kudrna’s work was a highlight of the exhibition, presenting six Light Plane Photographs (LPP) created with his experimental machines, half printed on acrylic glass and the remainder printed on brushed aluminum. His three interactive installations, Space – Time Variations were very popular, the audience creating over 1800 pictures in four days.

jiri-kudrna-3                         Space – Time Variations Installation by Jiri Kudrna

“The most satisfactory thing for me is to watch the Indonesian kids experimenting with my installations, being creative and having fun,” Kudrna said.   LPP is a technique invented by Kudrna uses a plane of light and a camera to record photographs with unique optic effects.

ABAD FOTOGRAFI – The Age of Photography

Continues through unti 28 November at the National Gallery of Indonesia.

More images may be accessed on Facebook.com/abadfotografi &

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r-haryanto                                               Images by R. Haryanto

Words: 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.