Putu Agus Suyadnya

Adherents of New Dynamism

150 x 150 cm
Acrylic on Canvas
2011

Putu Agus Suyadnya

The First Defense

150 x 130 cm
Acrylic on Canvas
2011

Ida Bagus Purwa

Untitled 1

200 x 140 cm
Acrylic, Oil, Charcoal on Canvas
2010

Ida Bagus Purwa

What Next

160 x 180 cm
Charcoal, Oil, Acrylic on Canvas
2011

I Kadek A. Ardika

I Will Survive

155 x 136 cm
Acrylic on Canvas
2011

I Kadek A. Ardika

Please Take My Head...!

55 x 20 x 37 cm
Fiberglass, Pint
2011

I Kadek A. Ardika

Yang Kecil Berusaha Sok Bijak

70 x 55 cm (2 panel)
Acrylic on Canvas
2011

I Nyoman Agus Wijaya

Go Green

70 x 60 x 85 cm
Galvanise Plate
2011

I Nyoman Agus Wijaya

Mencari Kesegaran

Variable Size
Galvanise Plate
2011

I Putu AAn Juniartha

My Hand

150 x 150 cm
Acrylic on Canvas
2011

I Putu AAn Juniartha

One Heart

150 x 150 cm
Acrylic on Canvas
2011

I Putu Erdiawan

Beda Itu Indah

200 x 150 cm
Acrylic on Canvas

I Putu Erdiawan

Mencari Aku

250 x 110 cm
Acrylic on Canvas
2011

Ketut Susena

Sukma Merapi

200 x 140 cm
Oil on Canvas
2011

Made Gede Putra

The Palette of Sky

85 x 65 x 27 cm
Sponge and Glue
2011

Nyoman Erawan

Kriya 1

300 x 100 cm
Acrylic, Digital Print on Canvas
2011

Nyoman Erawan

Kriya 2

300 x 100 cm
Acrylic, Digital Print on Canvas
2011

Peter Dittmar

Color Window No. XI

100 x 100 cm
Acrylic on Teak Board
2010

Peter Dittmar

Color Window No. VI

100 x 100 cm
Acrylic on Teak Board
2010

Peter Dittmar

Color Window No. VI

100 x 100 cm
Acrylic on Teak Board
2009

Putu Adi Gunawan

Meniti Levitasi

80 x 75 x 70 cm
Bronze
2010

Putu Wirantawan

Gugusan Citra Batin 1236011

Variable Size
Boltpoint on Paper
2011

Ronald Wigman

Lady Justice

190 x 190 cm
Acrylic on Canvas
2011

Ronald Wigman

My Studio

90 x 190 cm (2panel)
Acrylic on Canvas
2011

Ronald Wigman

My Tools

90 x 190 cm (2panel)
Acrylic on Canvas
2011

Ronald Wigman

The Keys To...

190 x 190 cm (4panel)
Acrylic on Canvas
2011

Samarpan

Untitled 1

Samarpan

Untitled 1

Teja Astawa

Ngelawang

200 x 140 cm
Acrylic on Canvas
2011

Teja Astawa

Restricted Area

200 x 140 cm
Acrylic on Canvas
2011

Walter van Oel

The Mystery if Jezus 1

190 x 190 cm
Mixed Media on Canvas
2011

Walter van Oel

The Mystery if Jezus 1

190 x 190 cm
Mixed Media on Canvas
2011

Walter van Oel

The Mystery if Jezus 1

190 x 190 cm
Mixed Media on Canvas
2011

Walter van Oel

The Mystery if Jezus 1

190 x 190 cm
Mixed Media on Canvas
2011

Wayan Upadana

Amnesia Culture

Diameter 120 cm
Polyester Resin, Phosphor, Acrylic
2011

Wayan Upadana

Display Ruang Gelap

← back to Past Exhibitions Cross-Culture of Balinese and Foreign Contemporary Artists

Sawen Awak (2011)

Indonesian VersionArticle by Wayan Kun Adnyana   |   Gallery Introduction by AAB Tony Hartawan

Since the 18th AD, with the invention of clay tablets containing Buddhist mantra, Bali actually has entered into its history phase. The history was set off with the intermingling of various culture elements. In any case its beginning was signified by Buddhist influence originated from India and China mainland.

For more than one thousand years, Bali has stridden in a credo of diversity. Various cultural products live side by side. Tolerance behavioral ethics has become daily knots. Daily life circuit is understood as history path to mutual acceptance.

Meanwhile since the beginning of the 20th century, modern thinking has been introduced by Western pilgrims (cultural pilgrims) to Bali, for instance Gregor Krause, Van der Tuuk, Roelof Gorris, or Walter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet (in case of fine art). The existence of these Western guests bringing in various cultural backgrounds adds to Bali diversity layers. It also included the birth of formal schools with a number of Western originated syllabus. Such school world order led to a change in Balinese mentality.

By the end of the decade in the twenties, and during the thirties decade a unique phenomena in Bali was believed to happen, it is Western artists' direct intervention that gave a distinctive shade to Bali rural art future development.

Walter Spies is believed to have played an indirect role in encouraging a number of Balinese painters to new forms of expression. During the period of 1933-1934, a talented painter Dewa Gde Meregeg from Padang Tegal Village, Ubud created paintings that, even though more decorative in style, it resonated Spies' artwork. On the other hand, Bonnet, aside from taking role as a sharp critic and Balinese painting collector, had also helped the artists to get materials and taught certain skills. His painting style itself was more academic than Spies', and he even meticulously made an attempt to avoid influencing Balinese artists style directly (Holt, 2000; 259).

The coming of Western artists to Bali was initiated with draftsman motivation. The arrival of draftsmen or painters from the Netherlands who were sent to document Nederlands Indie (Dutch Indies) with drawings of visualization to complement their reports - the drawings replaced photography which had not existed during that period. There came the opportunity for painters such as Theodorus Bik, Ernest Hardouin, Isidore van Kinsbergen, A.A.J. Payen and Frans Lebret for the same documenting assignments (Soedarso, 2006:25). Arie Smith the painter had also come with such assignment during the early period of his arrival to Indonesia, before finally chose to become a professional painter and settled in Bali.

The next motivation came about as a result of the illusion of Bali as the "last heaven", especially after idyllic snapshots of Balinese women taking a bath taken by G. Krause, the photographer spread; actually the labeling of Bali as tropical heaven was the continuation of a trend which was initiated by Gauguin by the end of the 19th century when he left France to settle and work in Tahiti so that it drove all "dream interpreter conquerors" flocking to Bali whether to become adventurers, billionaires, scientists or artists (Couteau, 2003:107-108).

As an example, Walter Spies (1895-1942) who came to Bali in 1927, after previously met an Ubud nobility, Cokorde Gede Raka Sukawati in Yogyakarta Palace unintentionally - Spies was a conductor for a Western orchestra in Yogyakarta Palace then. Cokorde invited Spies to come to Bali. When he came he wrote about his admiration, "in this beautiful and tranquil Ubud I built a bamboo house, and all of a sudden I felt lost in nature" (Jordt, without year: 2).

Rudolf Bonnet (1895-1978) who came to Bali several years after Spies, in the thirties drew Balinese artists together in a group called Pita Maha. Spies and Bonet lived amongst the Ubud society in the shade of the palace. In that year, commercial art with quality decadence developed in Bali. As a result, an idea to intervene such kind of art was born to make it more suited to their aesthetic demand. Apparently this "direct" intervention was limited only to art material supply, marketing assistance, and momentarily advice. However it has to be realized that Spies and Bonnet, supported by the palace clan, were considered "teachers" by Balinese traditional artists, and their artworks became their role model (Couteau, 203: 108).

Ida Bagus Made Poleng, one of the most advanced painters of Pita Maha who was famous for his bold opinion, revealed his admiration for Spies' artwork, "All this time Mr. Tepies (he meant Walter Spies) is the one I admire most, he is extremely intelligent. He can paint a hanging dragonfly exactly like the original. However, Mr. Tepies never exhibited such artwork" (Hartanto, 1998:3).

Bonnet and Spies' roles in bringing Bali painting art to new painting art trend do exist. However neither ten Bonnets nor ten Pita Maha's would by themselves cause Bali new painting art style to emerge if the Balinese traditional painters' flexible spirit, in terms of positioning new ideas and their readiness to change, did not exist (Yuliman, 2001: 301).

Indeed the indigenous thinking ability and their skills undeniably stick to Balinese traditional artists. By the time Western painters such as Spies and Bonnet came, including in the era of Arie smith who drew together the Penestanan, Ubud artists group, the indigenous potential naturally developed into a constructive route. Such social interaction circuit has also led into creative excitement and spirit amongst Bali painters.

A slight creative phenomena went on in a friendly term between the Foreign and Balinese artists in the twenties era up to the fifties, even though it was experiencing a touch of shift in the following years, especially when Bali had completely become world tourist destination. One way or another, by the time tourism project came into this island of gods, Bali people outlook and daily lives shifted to more complex layers of life choices. There was a change of orientation from agricultural lifestyle to tourism service sector that was strict for time.

Tourism has also brought about negative side of art consumption pattern, among others art is frequently interpreted as merely a thing of beauty that brings in money. That is why time and again it is the art goods production performance that comes first. The philosophical exercise tradition and the existence of spiritual space have often been overlooked. It is not surprising that later on many genial art ideas launched by an artist are suddenly copied and produced as mass product. It is this condition that finally triggered the stigma that Bali art is claimed as touristic art.

Aside from bringing about negative art behavior implication, it should be admitted that tourism in some aspects does have positive impact. As an example the growth of socializing spaces in Bali. It includes the increase of plural repertoire of social interaction and art expression. Balinese artists today not only have to face the behavior of "art industrialization" but also the touristic stigma ghost; they also have to face global social interaction circuit that comes in with advancement opportunities. They include those who are growing, learning, and facing their choices of life within a multicultural community. They are learning in science production fields that move on faster and more advanced.

In the twenties and thirties collaborative art creativity went on between Balinese and foreign artists, and nowadays the same thing is still going on even though in different format. It can be seen in various stages of art happenings that frequently use collaboration knots. It includes juxtaposing them together in one stage.

It is true that the foreign artists new generation that are coming to Bali between the nineties to 2000s do not find Bali as exotic as in the twenties era. The ethos of global artist creative work has been present in a certain professional standard, almost in uniform. As a result the parameter of the way foreign and Balinese artists interact finally undergoes a shift in nature, shape and also supporting instrument. Nowadays, the collaborative bond is more professional in nature, with more contracts and work pattern that are more solid in their methods, programs as well as objectives.

This exhibition aims to strengthen the cross cultural stage the way it has been pioneered ever since the twenties generation, by inviting foreign artists to work in Bali today, side by side with Balinese artists. Looking at their daily social interaction it conveys a portrait of mutually strengthening cross dialog.

Undoubtedly, one important thing that should be taken into account is what relates to the artist's personal awareness potential (either Balinese or foreign artists) in that creative social interaction traffic, that brings out characteristic artistic achievement, and also all that have to do with extraordinary creative exploration. The meaning of "Sawen Awak" can be found in the axis of each individual's creative structure. Sawen Awak today shall be comprehended as an appreciation of creative roaming space, experimentation arena, as well as an artist's professional character. Speaking of mentality structure, it is more on the rearing of tolerant spirits, greeting each other, social interaction ethos in warm gestures, and also collaborative work. These are a row of spirits that is intended to be transmitted in this exhibition.

For this purpose, this curatorial introduction invites Balinese as well as foreign artists who have chosen Bali as a creative space. It is intended for artists who in daily life live and grow in global social interaction circuit. Meanwhile Bali, as a space entity, constantly offers her inner self. The synergy of mutual gesture strengthens as well as increases the plurality of visual idea and concept treasure of Bali contemporary art.

Walking side by side

As explained just now, the art path of Foreign and Balinese artists in Bali nowadays is almost confronted with global tendency; imagination circuit, creative work, and other aspects that are related to professional social space that goes on in the same competition spirit. Like a soccer player, it does not matter which country he comes from, the most important thing is the creative space called matches league and the personal quality of the player. Unlike during the twenties and thirties eras, when Balinese artists were almost on the brink of being on the opposite side of their artistic potential value as well as their social interaction with the Western artists at that time, today all professional artists breathe the same air of information.

This condition logically leads to the consequence of creative communication space that is built more on the productive side-by-side path. When the creative weapon, imagination space and social interaction space they have are the same, the climate created is truly more collaborative in nature. The combination of positive interaction is aimed to point to the strengthening tolerant manner.

The foreign artist names that join this exhibition are a line of artists who consider Bali as a spiritual space that stores intuitive mystery. The artists are Samarpan (Germany 1953), Peter Dittmar (Germany 1945), and Walter Van Oel (The Netherlands, 1942), who are almost in the same field in terms of submerging into Balinese spiritual life. As written in the novel Eat, Pray, and Love, Elisabeth Gilbert writes about how Balinese spiritual world represented by I Ketut Lyer - a traditional artist - who walks side-by-side with modernization that enters into Bali. Various artifacts of the past in connection with the world of cosmic energy beliefs, until today are still celebrated. So is it with traditional rituals which are inseparable from daily life. It is the submersion into such spiritual beliefs that are found by the three artists.

Walter van Oel had actually spent long exploration in spiritual regions, such as Tibet and China, before finally he chose to settle in Bali. It is the island that for him stores extraordinary cosmic energy. Twelve years have passed, he has found spiritual peace in Bali, picked up all kinds of images from Bali traditional artifacts, and believed in the universality of that Balinese spiritual belief.

On the other hand Ronald Wigman (The Netherlands, 1954) identifies Bali from the perspective of its domestic life. He questions daily world with critical views. Wigman's views have become the comparison of how divine spirit is interpreted in private domestic spaces. He also questions the existence of daily objects in today's spiritual views.

Meanwhile Balinese artists in this exhibition are represented by artists from different lines of generation; they are Nyoman Erawan, Ketut Susena, Putu Adi Gunawan, Putu Wirantawan, Ketut Teja Astawa, Komang Agus Wijaya, Ida Bagus Putu Purwa, Wayan Upadana, Kadek Agus Ardika, Made Gede Putra, Agus Putu Suyadnya, Putu Erdiawan, and Putu Aan Juniartha.

Erawan is undoubtedly the pioneer of Indonesian contemporary art movement who remains to observe thoroughly the locality aspect. Somehow, when many observers start to vocalize on Indonesian contemporary art that is believed to have the tendency to be westernized, finally several critics and curators again consider the importance of how the locality issue should be promoted in terms of contemporary art views. The public certainly understand Erawan's important position in this movement, even far before the all "visual" contemporary art is booming and the market celebrates it. Erawan recognizes the chaotic concept that leads to the balance of physical and spiritual worlds.

Young artists such as Susena, Wirantawan, Teja Astawa, Purwa, Adi Gunawan and Agus Suyadnya also consciously take position as the generation that identifies and studies as well as questions tradition. Bali has become a balanced space for perspective track of admiration, critical power, and also the trigger of creative life power. It has become the pole that brings out foreign and Balinese artists in creative energy and also artistic concept of cross-opinion beliefs.

Denpasar, June 2011
Wayan Kun Adnyana

Bibliography

Claire, Holt. (1967), Art in Indonesia: Continuities and Change atau Melacak Jejak Perkembangan Seni di Indonesia (Penerj. R.M. Soedarsono), Arti.Line, Bandung, 2000. (=or Tracking down Indonesian Art Development Traces - Translated by R.M. Soedarsono)

Couteau, Jean. (2003),"Wacana Seni Rupa Bali Modern" dalam Paradigma dan Pasar, (Ed. Adi Wicaksono, dkk), Yayasan Seni Cemeti, Yogyakarta. (=Modern Bali Art Discourse in Paradigm and Market, (Ed. Adi Wicaksono, et al)

Couteau, Jean, & Wim J. van der Beek. (2005), Walter van Oel 2004-2005, Sharon's Co, Denpasar

Gilbert, Elisabeth. (2006), Eat, Pray, Love, Penguin

Hartanto. (1998), "Ida Bagus Made Jiwa Pusaka Ramuan Tanah" dalam katalog Pameran Lukisan Ida Bagus Made, Darga Gallery, Sanur. (=Ida Bagus Made - Earth Potion Spirit of Heritage in Ida Bagus Made, Painting Exhibition catalogue, Darga Gallery, Sanur)

Jordt, Horst. (tanpa tahun), "Kehidupan dan Karya Walter Spies" (sebuah makalah lepas). (=without year), "Walter Spies, Life and Artwork" (a loose paper)

Soedarso Sp. (2006), Trilogi Seni: Penciptaan, Eksistensi dan Kegunaan Seni, Badan Penerbit ISI Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta. (=Art Trilogy: Art Creation, Existence and Application, ISI Publishing Institution)

Yuliman, Sanento. (2001), Dua Seni Rupa (Sepilihan Tulisan), Ed. Asikin Hasan, Yayasan Kalam, Jakarta. Two Arts (A Choice of Writing)

Gallery Introduction

Finally, Sawen Awak Visual Art Exhibition, an art celebration that unites Foreign and Balinese artists, managed to be performed as planned.

This exhibition is meant to strengthen the collaborative-dialogic position of foreign artists who have chosen Bali as a creative space, together with today's Balinese contemporary artists. Somehow, in comprehension of national art history, foreign artists' creative position, moreover of those who have given contribution shall not be put aside. The art history of the 20s up to 50s eras has been so monumentally recorded the existence of Western artists in National art history trail. It is unlike what has happened since the 90s, where recording is almost at a minimum. For that reason, this exhibition is expected to successfully launch pieces of creative struggle of today's foreign and Balinese artists.

To put side by side creative views and achievement of Western together with Balinese artists, with the objective to remind that in the past there were friendly collaboration and interaction between both sides of cultures. Even though there is a slight difference in behavior there is certainly various guarded collaboration patterns, either in daily social arena or in the form of art celebration.

We, Tonyraka Art Gallery, together with Wayan Kun Adnyana the curator, proudly introduce Foreign and Balinese artists, side-by-side perspectives in the staging of visual art entitled Sawen Awak, a personal visual achievement in the middle of cross-culture interaction space of artists from various countries.

We would like to express our gratitude to all participants who have made their contribution in this exhibition. Hopefully your contribution will become more meaningful to our art progress.

Ubud, June 2011
AAB Tony Hartawan