Emerging women artists on Bali

‘Fantasy World of Mine’ 2021 – Dayu Sartika. Watercolour on paper.

Bali’s distinct feminine energy is one of the foundations of the sacred and extraordinarily artistic traditional culture. Internationally revered for its potent and abundant lifeforce, a new generation of female Balinese and Indonesian creatives thrives on the island, increasingly independent and career orientated. Through art, these ladies explore their sense of purpose and inner self. Here are a few of the exciting and diverse emerging contemporary talents on Bali today:

Ida Ayu Sartika Dewi.

An Instagram browse of @dayusartika reveals a young Balinese lady, Dayu Sartika, passionate about drawing and the watercolour medium. The fundamental to observe and render 3-dimensional impressions of objects through structuring shadow and light – drawing is a skill often neglected young artists. Time-lapse videos describe her watercolour process, one of the most challenging techniques to master. At just twenty-three years of age, Dayu has extraordinary command of her creative prowess. 

Born in 1998 in Buleleng, North Bali, the art education graduate from UNDIKSHA University Singaraja focusses upon self-narrative compositions. Playful, sexy and humorous,  some images are, however, otherworldly. Dayu conveys a young woman’s emotional experiences within a complex culture during an extraordinary period of human transformation. When we gaze into her bright full eyes, revealed is wisdom that belies her years.

‘Taste Me, Don’t Waste Me’ 2021 – Dayu Sartika. Watercolor on paper, 37x55cm.

“I started drawing at a young age and then made cartoons. I have had limited physical capacities since childhood, yet I was comfortable sitting and drawing. At fifteen, I learned self-portraiture and immortalise the face I love. This continues as my main art concept,” Dayu said. “In 2015, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The pain can be debilitating, and sometimes I am unable to draw. I began to explore watercolour, which requires less effort. Art is my meditation; it is often powerful to help forget the pain.”

“About a year ago, I began drawing my body,” Dayu explained. “The world is scary but fun; even my body has secrets. I realized that I didn’t really know myself, and I wanted to make peace with my inner self. We are one but don’t know each other well enough.”

Linkan Palenewen

‘Eden and Me’ 2020 Linkan Palenewen. Acrylic & mixed media on canvas, 110 x 120 cm.

“As an Indonesian woman, my culture expects me to think and act in a certain way. Through art, however, I maintain my sovereignty,” painter and Ubud resident Linkan Palenewen said. “Whatever society expects me to be and to do, as an artist, I will do the opposite.”

Linkan’s signature style (‘Eden and Me’ 2020) is a collision of visual codes. Her compositional focal point features herself and other women in semi-naked postures with arranged fragmented planes of vivid colour highlighted by delicate floral forms. At a glance, duality immediately comes to the fore. Shattered structures harmonize with black spatial planes, brilliant neon’s and vigorous colour combine with Bali inspired floral designs complimenting the lush female forms.

Tropically attuned, Linkan’s mantras are captivating, seductive musings in which sensuality and pulsating colour embrace like lovers entwined.

‘Eden and Me III’ 2020 – Linkan Palenewen. Acrylic & mixed media on canvas. 120 x 100 cm.

“I have always wanted to make art yet started out studying interior design. I then switched to fashion design and learned techniques that became the fundamentals of my style. I love to be wild and unrestrained with colours, my intuition takes control, and I am often surprised by the results. Femininity is my subject. I wish to express gratitude to women for their beauty and strength. They are the source of my inspiration. I use art as a discussion platform for topics that may be taboo.” 

“My path has not been easy revealed the self-taught artist born in Jakarta in 1989 who once described her work as a way of “documenting love”. I started exploring my sensuality and learning more about myself. My first self-portrait triggered insecurities and embarrassment. I expose my vulnerability, yet I am liberating myself from my fears.”

IG @candylcker

Sastia Naresvari

‘Desire Within’ 2020 – Sastia Naresvari. Mixed media on canvas 150x200cm.

Sastia Naresvari’s dynamic abstract expressionism immediately caught my eye. Her potent, colourful swirling non-descript forms captivated my conscious and subconsciousness mind. Utilizing brush strokes, palette knives, blades, and her hands, Sastia engineers inspiration into form. The powerful contrast of white against black is a predominant aspect, while reds and blues complement the overall vibrancy. Other pictures allow the simplicity of vibrant colour to harmonize and come to the fore.

As the twenty-four-year-old Jakarta born, Bali resident and former psychology student explains, there is more to her work than meets the eye.  “Painting has always been a part of my spiritual journey, helping describe my reality, emotions, and thinking and what I experience during meditation and the dream state. It illustrates the unseen and intangible energy; space without limitations.”

‘The Powerful Beauty and Beautiful Power’ 2021 -Sastia Naresvari Mixed media on canvas 50x50cm + 50x50cm.

“My process begins with contemplation, writing, black & white photography, and asking incisive questions. I then detach from my ego, inducing a trancelike state. I am free to translate the world void of duality and physical laws.” Titles such as ‘Beautifully Chaotic’, ‘Desire Within’, ‘Fire Burning Underwater’ and ‘The Powerful Beauty and Beautiful Power’ reveal insights into the depth of Sastia’s artistic quest. The core of abstract/non-representational art is the exploration of the essence that exists beyond the object.

“Painting grounds me to the 3D world and then I transcend,” said the mostly self-trained artist who made her first watercolour image aged four, then obsessed with crayon portraits of her grandparents.  In 2017 Sastia met Didiet Affandi at Museum Affandi, Yogjakarta. “He became my painting mentor for about a year and taught me confidence in many aspects of life.”

IG @sastianaresvari

Luh Gede Gita Sangitayasa

‘Paradiso #1’ 2020 – Luhde Sangitayasa. Oil on canvas. 120x170cm.

For some, the idea of living simultaneously in parallel universes may be too far out to compute. For Balinese painter Luh Gede Gita Sangitayasa, however, the concept seems commonplace. It helps inspire the fascinating narrative works she describes as “fragments of memories”.

“I gather internet pictures, screenshots from the online simulation game Sims and old images. I then photoshop combinations into compositions I call “happy incidents”,” Luh’De explained. “Painting helps me to understand myself. Maybe I want control over things that I cannot control, blurring the realities between the finite world we live in and the tempting-limitless worlds of cyberspace. By being in between that, I find peace.”

After five years studying fine art at the Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB)’ West Java, Luh’De returned to live in Batubulan, Bali. In 2020 she was diagnosed with depression and bipolar, and she stopped painting for six months. “When I began again, my old subject matter (images of Bali and the beach I themed ‘Paradiso Series’) no longer represented me,” said Luh’De, who in 2020 exhibited works in the group show ‘New Now IV: TENSION/CREATION’ at Gajah Gallery. “I had developed a liking towards sweets to help stabilize my mood, and I spent more time playing Sims as escapism. I created a new “ideal” personal painting reality that I still refer to as my Paradiso.”

‘Donuts and Elizac 20’ 2021 – Luhdeh Gitayasa, Oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm.

‘Donuts and Elizac 20’ 2021 is perfectly balanced pop art displaying beautiful colours and textures. It describes her experience – from the sugary highs of doughnuts to the lows of Elizac, her bipolar medication. Luh’De becomes the subject. Her previous characters are void of joy; here, she depicts herself in a state of bliss. This breakthrough painting can open the door to her inner world and exploration of self-identity.

Luh’De  is presented in SUKSESI : CROSS GENERATIONAL WOMEN’S EXHIBITION, an exhibition of Indonesian female artists featuring works from three distinct 20 March – 20 May 2021 at ISA ART AND DESIGN Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta, Indonesia. 

IG @luhgedegitasangitayasa

Words: Richard Horstman

Images: courtesy of the artists.

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