Category Archives: ARMA

“Locked down” on the Paradise island Bali?

Jalan Raya Ubud, the main street of Ubud empty of tourists 10 may 2020. Image Richard Horstman

When the Visa-on-Arrival into Bali was suspended 20 March at Denpasar airport, this confirmed how serious the Indonesian authorities considered the threat of Covid19 to health and safety of the island’s inhabitants. Seemingly, after weeks of speculation, they took severe measures which have destroyed the tourism economy and impacted on the Balinese, Indonesian and expatriate inhabitants totalling around 4 million people. While many world governments were slow to respond, the Balinese authorities too received criticism for their perceived complacency.

The Corona news is confronting. It is meant to be. We live in the digital media age, and the Internet has, for some, become an extension of their nervous systems. Our primary information sources, Google, Facebook and YouTube we relentlessly consume. These surveillance capitalism giants, along with some of their information, however, requires close scrutiny for its validity and questionable intentions.

‘Balinese Street Dancer’ 2020 – by Australian artist and Bali resident Yokii on display at Nyaman Gallery, Seminyak. 180 x 170 cm, Mixed media on canvas. Image Richard Horstman

Living here in ‘paradise’, exposed to news of this global assault, I experienced collective along with my personal fears. Deep inside, however, dwelled another feeling, of peace and stability. I followed the rules set out by the local administration, and subjected myself to self-isolation, to, as so many world leaders said, “save lives”. I read an array reports and articles, and watched many YouTube videos and documentaries on the complex topic. And I pondered. The global economy was plummeting; people worldwide were dying or losing their jobs, and some were fighting in the isles of the supermarkets over toilet paper. Yes, some of the videos I saw and reports I read were fanciful. Others, however, resonated deeply with my intuition.

After a few weeks of hibernation, I made a decision I had to venture out to see the world, beyond going to the shops for food. I first checked with my landlord, the word from the authorities was, “lebih bagus kalo…”, best if you, for example, stay at home. But there were no orders to do so.  The Balinese of course had to go to the markets, temples, agricultural fields and care for their families. The schools have been closed for more than a month.

‘Catatan Sejarah’ 2020 Wayan Bawa Antara, 70cm x70cm, acrylic on canvas. Image W. Bawa Antara

I travelled on my motorbike to the mountains and the sea. I was lucky to enjoy the ocean at Sanur before the beaches were totally closed to public 3 May. At Kuta and Seminyak the beaches have been off-limits all April, and there have been reports of arrests of disobedient foreigners. I made sure when in public places to wear a mask and to respect social distancing. Many Balinese, however, were not “locked down”, were neither wearing masks or social distancing. I also started visiting a few friends to learn of their take on this extreme human experience.

Social media was abuzz with the “lockdown” output of the Balinese, Indonesian and local ex-pat artists. It appeared as if the Balinese were enjoying this ‘isolation’, the tourist market, however, has gone. While some are smartphone savvy and are selling their work through Instagram, this is a minority. Few Balinese appeared to be making art of note. Made Aji Aswino not at the AB BC Building in Nusa Dua organising the next ‘Bali Masters’ exhibition made breakthroughs with his ‘ego’ sketches, while senior icon Nyoman Erawan posted a superb digital work. The majority of the works of masked faces or spikey green viruses were far from impressive or inspiring. A painting by Wayan Bawa Antara of a Balinese high priest in seeming passive confrontation with a devilish red virus, however, did catch my eye.

Gunung Agung Meletus Kecil’ 2008 – Gusti Agung Wiranata, 80 x 60 cm, Oil on canvas. Image Gusti Agung Wiranata

Gusti Agung Wiranata, the Ubud School traditional painter of stunning landscapes, the style pioneered by the famous German Ubud ex-pat Walter Spies (1895-1942), began his Facebook ‘Gallery art Home’ posting three works a day for five consecutive days from 28 April. “Don’t let the corona shock get the best of you, enjoy the art at home”, his post read, and continues, “On the last day of the event, we’ll be handing over the baton to 1-5 other artists to take on the challenge!”  #GalleryartHome

I learned the ARMA museum in Ubud was open. I visited and was delighted to find the charismatic founder Agung Rai watering the garden with a pair of secateurs in his hand. Balinese artist Wayan Donal and Japanese artist Kamon Komatsu were, meanwhile, working on beautiful compositions. I was curious to hear of Pak Agung’s opinion of the catastrophe which had reduced tourism numbers to zero, and of course, the possible impact upon Balinese art.

‘Ego Sketch’ 5 May 2020 – Made Aji Aswino Digital image created on IPad. Image courtesy Made Aswino Aji

“The Balinese are resilient. We have endured many ups and downs. The art and the artists themselves, never-the-less continue. Art is life to the Balinese, and their creative practices are cohesive and in harmony with nature. In Bali, there is an endless source of inspiration.” Pak Agung said, and stated, “Its circumstances like these when the most innovative artists make real breakthroughs.”

A few ex-pat artists report that they are still receiving commissions. Well-known English painter of bamboo, shimmering landscapes and trees, Neal Adams in Ubud said, “During this period of uncertainty, it is not easy to be positive or focused. I have, however, found that continuing with my work regardless, has paid off.  I have received some new sales over the internet from clients stating that even though times are hard, they can still bless each other with respect and support.” Adams noted, “It’s important now for artists to be realistic with their prices.”

‘Jati’ 2020 – Neal Adams, mixed media on canvas 140 x 100 cm. Image Richard Horstman

“Of course, Covid19 has impacted upon my activity and career,” said leading Balinese female artist Ni Nyoman Sani. My exhibitions are rescheduled, and the opening dates are unknown. My focus has been on how to create while having more time at home, connecting deeply with my inner self. I have returned to painting still life compositions of fruit upon dark backgrounds. This time and space have forced me to concentrate and to be more patient.” The works are symbolic, Sani said. “The dark background represents this current gloomy period. To survive, we must stay at home, be patient, consume healthy foods, and pray.”

The pandemic has stalled and halted exhibitions and programs throughout Bali. How will the Bali art infrastructure endure this crisis, continue to grow and make a positive impact?  All of the fine art galleries and art spaces are closed, some are open by appointment. All museums are closed, except for ARMA.  An online presence will play an essential role in keeping their artists and brands in the public’s eye.

‘Rajah Wong-wongan Penolak Bala COVID-19’ 2020 – Nyoman Erawan, 29cm x 21cm, Ink on paper. Image Nyoman Erawan

Rio Riawan, the curator of TiTian Art Space, Ubud and the head of R&D of Yayasan TiTian Bali, has spearheaded two new online programs, a children’s newsletter and an exhibition. “In the newsletters we feature world-class artists Picasso and Balinese modernist, I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, to inspire children’s creativity while being at home,” Rio said. “TiTian’s first solo online exhibition is a new format and a fundraiser to help reduce the impact of CoVid-19. 50% of the proceeds to be donated to marginalized people of Bali.” ‘Ida Bagus Punia Atmaja: A CoVid-19 Solidarity Exhibition’ presents dynamic paper-mâché alien forms inspired by Punia’s divine visions.

The Tony Raka Art Gallery, in Ubud began an artist in residency program in January 2020 with leading Indonesian female contemporary artist Arahmaiani. Since the “lockdown” they have continued with the residency. “The gallery will provide the space for various post-pandemic community activities, presentations, discussions, workshops, exhibitions and performances, for BERSAMA, Arahmaiani’s interdisciplinary art project,” said Tony Raka. “Involving Balinese contemporary and traditional artists and local environmental and socio-cultural activists interacting with the public, BERSAMA, which has evolved over two years, seeks to discover alternative and creative solutions especially to the environmental problems we are facing.”

‘Satelit purba / Ancient satellite’, # 41 2013 – Ida Bagus Punia Atmaja, Mixed Media, 33x51x16cm. Image courtesy TiTian Art Space

“We’re lucky to have clients who have previously visited our gallery, liked something and have purchased artworks online after the shutdown took place,” said Melvine Amar, French curator and founder of Nyaman Gallery, a vibrant creative space in Seminyak. “It’s a shame to see the gallery without people enjoying our artist’s beautiful works. Art needs to be experienced in person, but we understand we have to protect our community.”

“Our artists are hard at work with ongoing projects, continuing to bring art to the world in other ways. The hardest part is not being able to support our artists as much as before, but our team are positive, working hard, and constantly coming up with new ways to enhance our website and social media presence.”

‘My Banana’ 2020 – Ni Nyoman Sani, Oil on canvas, 40 x 50 cm. Image courtesy Nyoman Sani

Bali street art maverick and owner of ALLCAPS store and gallery in Canggu Julien Thorax reports that the Bali street art community celebrated via Instagram an event for Earth Day 2020, 22 April. “The global – paint at home – mural festival featured 800 artists from 60 countries and received enormous international attention helping raise awareness of the importance of Earth Day 2020. Our contribution to the happening, curated by SeawAlls, featured eight local artists painting murals themed around the day on walls at ALLCAPS.”

Visiting the once pulsating tourist mecca of Ubud now a surreal experience, with nearly shops, restaurants, bars and hotels closed. The streets are quiet, and at night the hub is a ghost town. There is, however, a large expatriate community in the area keeping some businesses open, and importantly providing work for the Balinese.  Many public campaigns have begun on the island, some initiated by foreigners, to raise money to provide necessities to the marginalized. The local authorities are doing their best to enforce all to wear face mask to help prevent the spread of the virus, while the international media, along with many pundits, speculate about herd immunity on Bali. Why has the island of the Gods seemingly had so few people being affected by Covid19? Perhaps it is because of the local and global impact of Balinese prayers and ceremonies?

Information stating people must wear face masks in the village of Lodtunduh, Ubud. Image Richard Horstman

Let’s remain positive during this extraordinary period, be creative and dream big dreams. Please believe in a brighter outcome than what many politicians are preaching, and be prepared to do what we can to help our fellow man.

This article was published earlier in 2020 on http://www.pluralartmag.com

Words: Richard Horstman

Overview of the Bali art infrastructure 2019

‘Mahardika’ the group exhibition, featured installation ‘Freedom of Expression’ 2019 by Kadek Kusuma Yatra 200 x 200cm Video installation, open 19 October – 1 December 2019 at TiTian Art Space Nyuh Kuning, Ubud

Overshadowed by the creative hubs of Java, Bandung, Jakarta and Yogyakarta, Bali is often disregarded by international art lovers and this may be due to the tourism-led commodification of art and culture.  However, in the past six years, there has been significant development in the fascinating and distinct Bali art infrastructure.

Bali was not immune to the dramatic decline that occurred after 2008 with the crash of the Indonesian modern and contemporary art markets. The immediate signs of the downturn were the closure of leading contemporary art galleries Gaya in Ubud, and Kendra in Seminyak. Activities at other notable galleries Tony Raka in Ubud and, BIASA ArtSpace in Seminyak wound down as well. Only galleries financially supported by profitable hotels, namely  Komaneka in Ubud, Santrian in Sanur and Ganesha in Jimbaran maintained their exhibition schedules.

During the post-boom period, the established art institutions Museum Puri Lukisan, Neka Art Museum, ARMA and Bentara Budaya Bali continued with consistent programmes. The museum exhibitions were mostly dedicated to the Ubud, Batuan, Keliki and Pengosekan traditional Schools of painting, while representing an array of artists in group and solo shows, including Ketut Madra, Wayan Darlun and Made Astawa. Significant developments in the contemporary art infrastructure occurred with the opening of artist-driven initiatives Luden House in Ubud in 2009, Cata Odata Art Space in Ubud in 2014, and Ketemu Project Space in Batubulan in 2015. 

The large white bamboo installation ‘Not For Sale’ set in rice fields north of Ubud by Balinese landowner, social activist, and artists Gede Sayur and friends, quickly became a unique landmark.  Committed to art with a social and environmental conscience, Sayur founded Luden as an art space and gallery. ‘Not For Sale’ evolved in 2010 in response to the alarming rate of Balinese agricultural land being sold for development and grew to become a social movement. Cata Odata focused their cross-disciplinary programmes towards emerging artists from East Java and Bali, while Ketemu’s model has a strong regional focus on programmes including artists and curators. Their July 2016 group exhibition at Sudakara Art Space, Sanur “Merayakan Murni”(Celebrating Murni), a tribute to the iconic Balinese woman artist IGAK Murniasih (1966-2006), was one of the most anticipated events that year. These initiatives provided a much-needed impetus for the art community.

Developments within the traditional art world were the formation of new collectives Baturlangun in Batuan village and the Werdi Jana Kerti Artists Association in Keliki. Strong leadership dedicated to regeneration of the styles has led to exciting new talent emerging from both of these villages in recent years such as Wayan Aris Sarmanta and Wayan Budiarta from Batuan and Putu Kusuma and Putu Adi from Keliki. Baturlangun’s first exhibition at ARMA in 2012 featured works by emerging, established, and senior artists, including women. Since 2006 Larasati Auctioneers has established an international forum for the trade of high-quality Balinese art, providing strong support in developing the market.  Two yearly auctions are held in Ubud, which expanded to three sales in 2019.

‘Kayu’ a new alternative platform for Indonesian and international contemporary art, opened in 2014, at Rumah Topeng Dan Wayang Setia Dharma (House of Masks & Puppets), in Mas, Ubud. Curated by Ubud based Italian artist Marco Cassani, ‘Kayu’ is an exhibition series that is a part of a global initiative by Lucie Fontaine for the exchange of information and knowledge between the global art world.

The opening of Art Bali 2019 “Speculative Memories” was highlighted by a fashion parade by the Fashion Council of Western Australia (FCWA) which annually holds the Perth Fashion Festival (PFF)

One of the most significant inclusions in the infrastructure TiTian Art Space, after three years in Jalan Bisma, this October moved to larger, more accessible premises in Nyuh Kunning, Ubud. An artist incubator nurturing emerging talent to become art entrepreneurs, it was established by the TiTian Bali Foundation and the vision of Balinese art and entrepreneurial expert Soemantri Widagdo.  The annual TiTian Prize, with sections for children and adult, has quickly attracted the island’s finest talent to participate, propelling the winners Nyoman Arisana and Wayan Aris Sarmanta, into the national spotlight. The recent exhibition “Mahardika” 19 October – 1 December featured works by Wayan Sadu, Nyoman Bratayasa and Kadek Kusuma Yasa.

Bali’s rapidly evolving street art movement is transforming the streets of urban and rural Bali. Swiss urban art enthusiast Julien Thorax opened the gallery and art supplies shop in Canggu, ALLCAPS Store, in 2015. A vibrant sub-culture of social media savvy millennials, and national and international street artists now thrive in the Canggu – Berawa Beach area.

An exhibition highlight of 2019 ‘Drawing Bali Today’ 10 October – 10 November at Sika Gallery, Ubud revealed developments within the context of Balinese technical painting by emerging and mid-career artists. Such developments have been a response to the ‘Neo Pitimaha’ art movement, established in 2013 by art provocateurs Gede Mahendra Yasa and Kemal Ezedine, who have been hosting events and exhibitions in Bali and Java from 2016. The movement reinterprets Balinese traditional technical painting from a contemporary art perspective – retaining the principles involved with the techniques and methods.  By opening this to new viewpoints they awakened a new spirit and introduced a fresh model of possibilities into Balinese art. Ezedine has recently been proactive with exhibitions with some of the core members of the movement, while his “Drawing Lab”, continues on with the Neo Pitamaha ideals influencing the mindset of young Balinese painters.

In just as few years CushCush Gallery, a dynamic and highly active multi-disciplinary platform open in July 2016 in Denpasar and founded by Suriawati Qiu and Jindee Chua, has become the most vital addition to the infrastructure, next to TiTian. An art and design hub dedicated to supporting the many local and international creatives and communities in and around the city, the breadth of their annual DenPasar event, which began in 2017, is always fresh and inspiring.

Artists pose with their works during the opening of during the opening of “Art Exhibition by Children Sanggar Bares – There is no Truth only HONESTY” 12 – 31 October 2019 at the Nyana Tilem Museum, in Mas. Image courtesy Soemantri Widagdo

An international standard exhibition space and contemporary art exhibition has finally arrived in Bali. The major drive for both initiatives that opened late 2018, however, comes from Java. ART • BALI, the exhibition this year in its second edition, and the purpose-built AB • BC Building in Nusa Dua, funded by BEKRAF the Agency for Creative Economy Indonesia, are exciting developments of a global art calibre upon the art landscape. 

Heri Pemad Management from Yogyakarta introduced their ‘ArtJog’ model, highlighting Indonesian contemporary artists with invited internationals. The annual ‘Bali Masters’ exhibition was first held in March 2019; its second edition is due early 2020. External direction over locally based management, and Javanese curators, however, may not be the best mode of capitalizing on Bali’s distinct artistic character and presenting it on the international stage. ‘Balinese Masters: Aesthetic DNA Trajectories of Balinese Visual Art’ featured an array of strong work, the show suffered, however, from confusing curatorial objectives, beginning with a puzzling title, and then including too much work without the benefit of a practical chronological order allowing it to be easily read and understood by the audience.

Tony Raka Art Gallery now merges tribal art with the contemporary, along with the ‘Art Lounge’ activated a few years ago. The venue has recently grown to include the ‘Creative Space’, an expansive event facility at the rear of his gallery. Open 2016 Nyaman Gallery in Seminyak has quickly made its mark, while evolving to include workshop facilities. Uma Seminyak, a new display space open 2017 highlights emerging Balinese and Indonesian contemporary artists and designers.  BIASA ArtSpace has revamped its vision with the new BIASACube, an exhibition space within their Kerobokan boutique open early 2018, and another space BIASA Ubud opened late last year, next door to their boutique in Sanggingan. 

Government support for modern and contemporary art is entering a new era. Gurat Art Project, an arm of the research and curatorial initiative Garut Institute, with the aid of the Badung Regency Administration, has been presenting events now since 2017. The 2019 five-year appointment of artist Dr Wayan Kun Adnyana as the Director of the Cultural Office of Provincial Bali has had an immediate impact ‘Bali Megarupa’ (10 October – 10 November) which featured 103 artists exhibiting at ARMA, Museum Puri Lukisan, Neka Art Museum and Bentara Budaya Bali Cultural Center. “Bali Megarupa” will continue annually for five years with the intention of becoming a yearly long-term fixture on the Bali art calendar consolidated by Provincial law.

‘Ancient Memories’ 2019 – Joel Singer, digital montages from an ongoing series by Singer, some of which were on display at the Tony Raka Art Gallery, Mas, Ubud

2019 closed with two more significant additions to the Bali art infrastructure – Ubud Diary a new gallery opened 30 November with a group exhibition of Ubud School paintings and a book launch “Ubud Diary: Celebrating the Ubud School of Painting – the Diversity of the Visual Language”. Ubud Diary’s mission is to create a new awareness to the historically significant, yet declining Ubud School. BATU Art Space, a Space For Contemporary Art Collection and Research at the House of Masks & Puppets in Mas, Ubud opened 7 December highlighted by “Manifesto” an exhibition by leading Australian artist Sally Smart.

This article was first published:

https://www.artandmarket.net/analysis/2019/12/28/bali-art-infrastructure-2019

Words and Images, unless specified: Richard Horstman

Sign: Darma Yuda’s Poignant Hyperrealism investigation into duality

‘Adu Jotos’ 2009 – Anak Agung Gede Darma Yuda, Oil on Canvas, 120x270cm

Art is a personal experience; its impact on every individual is never the same. When I attend an exhibition, I can be driven by my own innate needs – to engage with fresh visual stimulus to satisfy the hunger and to feed the space between my ears. This wanting can sometimes hinder my ability to be objective and to appreciate an artist’s contribution based on his or her experience and skills.

Visiting exhibitions in Bali can often seem like a repetitious experience. When I attend an opening, my intuitive impulse is that much appears familiar, and like I have seen it before. I observe, and ‘recognize’ much of the work, and other than the social interaction of the evening, I can leave feeling mostly uninspired.

‘1 $ 2 Rangdas’ – 2015 Anak Agung Darma Yuda 190×130 cm

It is therefore refreshing to visit an exhibition that has a quality that lingers, and that beckons you to return. Sign a solo exhibition by hyperrealist Balinese painter Anak Agung Gde Darma Yuda which opened on 15 November at the Agung Rai Museum of Art, (ARMA), is one of those rare shows. The show presents, fifteen oil on canvas works ranging from medium to large and imposing in size. Delving into themes of identity, social politics and duality, these are not a hastily produced bunch of pictures, but rather the outcome of Darma Yuda’s dedication spanning ten years.

The Instagram exhibition-marketing image of his painting 1 $ 2 Rangda was alluring – I was compelled to attend. Arriving late on the evening, I ventured into the open ARMA water garden pavilion, feeling tired after a long day, I lounged on a large wooden sofa next to a friend and we engaged in some light banter, while I gazed out upon Darma Yuda’s offerings, positioned on the wall about eight meters away. In nearly an hour and a half, I didn’t move, I sat and observed, others stopped by and said hello.

‘Sign’ by Anak Agung Gede Darma Yuda 15 November – 31 December at ARMA Ubud Bali.

The expansive ARMA pavilion allowed me the complete freedom to indulge without sensing any confining limits of the physical space. My experience of observing and feeling the work was unhindered – my receptive abilities fully enhanced. The varying imagery of Indrya 2009, 130 x 180 cm (3 panels), for example, enabled me to traverse between two aesthetic and cerebral worlds, that of the abstract and the hyperreal.

Darma Yuda’s ‘real’ world delivered confronting content, boarding on the violent. The middle panel depicts a red finger poked in an ear with a blue Indonesian 50,000 Rupiah note piercing the lobe. A hand with full spread fingers conceals an older woman’s red-brownish face on the right panel, the gap between the thumb and forefinger exposes an eye — humanity, and life force are projected out. The left panel features a hand cupping a face, palm positioned on the forehead with fingers pointing down. The lips are coloured crimson blood red. Darma Yuda’s selection of colour is a potent aesthetic tool. In Indrya, contrasting skin tones of beige, red, brown and blue create immediate visual tension while emphasizing an eerie duality. The structural features, such as bones, veins and fingernails define the human vehicle. The hyper-detailed skin textures and the wrinkled outer layer that conceal the body reveal the unsympathetic passage of time. 

‘Indrya’ 2009 – Anak Agung Gde Darma Yuda, Oil on Canvas 130×150 cm (3 panels)

“I’m interested in this realism technique because it is very effective for me to convey my thoughts about things and objects that are very close to my character and daily life,” said Darma Yuda who was born 1977 in Silakarang, Gianyar, and received his art education at the STSI secondary college in Denpasar.

During my observation of Indrya, I find myself oscillating between different mental states. I am sometimes temporarily ‘lost’ in the imagery, my mind quiet in subconscious musing. I might then switch to engage on the conscious level, as I scrutinize the work. Then I go off again, experiencing my thoughts in the deepest levels. When required I find myself flicking into social mode, enjoying light discussion with others. AS the conversation carries on, I might detach myself once again, become introverted and return to the world of art. in experiencing this flurry of emotion, I am reminded of the essential functional value of art — it grants us respite from our busy, sometimes demanding lives, and support us and nourishes in beautiful and unexpected ways. 

“I deliberately create technical optical games within my compositions to encourage observation from afar or near,” the artist said.

Punyaku!!’ 2008 – Anak Agung Gede Darma Yuda 120 x 270 cm

He explained. “Social issues in life arise all the time. Sometimes, however, we only hear from one point of view, giving rise to reactions that are excessive, deviating from the core of the problem. Sometimes we never find the right solution to a problem. As individuals, we have to filter out what is worth listening to, seeing or talking about. This also functions as self-criticism teaching us to be wise in responding to issues. This is what I address in Indrya.”

Darma Yuda’s close-up exploration of the human hand is for a sound reason. The hand holds the power to administer and execute many acts and expressions of our behaviour. Hands are depicted pulling, punching, concealing, threading, embracing, and revealing acts of both kindness and the adverse, throughout his body of work. Hyperrealism was a popular trend within Indonesian contemporary painting about a decade ago. In Bali one could think of the technical mastery of I Gusti Nengah Sura Ardana from Denpasar and his pictures of elderly folk often marginalized within Balinese society. Darma Yuda is also technically proficient, his themes, however, delve much deeper than Sura Ardana’s.

‘Unity’ 2010 – Anak Agung Darma Yuda , Oil on Canvas, 110 x 175cm

1 $ 2 Rangda, 2015, is rendered in dark and gloomy tones. Darma Yuda depicts a grey hand clutching a rolled American dollar note, from both the top and bottom of the bill protrudes the head of the wicked witch Rangda from the mythical Balinese Calonarang tale. Adorning the wrist is a prayer bead bracelet, while the hand is positioned akin to how a Balinese Hindu priest would clutch a ceremonial bell. The small finger detached is pointing up and outward; the tip is coloured red. “In taking a stand, when we are faced with many choices, sometimes when we behave in the grey,” said the artist who has been exhibiting extensively in Bali and Java since 1995. “We need to have a strong and firm attitude to achieve our goals; that’s why I rendered the little finger red.”

Adu Jotos 2009 is possibly Darma’s Yuda’s most potent work. Translating as ‘fistfight’, it describes the collision of two fists thrust from opposing directions, colliding with a red rubber ball. While the smaller fist to the left is coloured white, the larger, to the right is black. The background colour is also red, yet of a darker shade helping to emphasize the enormous impact of the two conflicting forces. The negative shapes of the three focal objects set against the background, come through has distinct visual elements of the picture. It is perfectly balanced composition – less is more. It highlights dualism within the human plight, and this Darma Yuda says, “Is a conflict of passion that never ends.”

‘Dark or Bright’ 2009 – Anak Agung Gede Darma Yuda, Oil on Canvas 104 x 144cm

If you are visiting Ubud, Bali during December Darma Yuda’s Sign is a fascinating, confronting and an eye-catching show, it continues through until 31 December 2019. I returned twice after the opening evening to attempt to satisfy my own curiosity and to see what else I could discover within the paintings and inside myself. 

Back Sign, White Sign, Red Sign’ 2019 – Anak Agung Darma Yuda 90 x 60 cm (3 panels)

Sign – Anak Agung Gede Darma Yuda

15 November – 31 December 2019

ARMA Museum
Jalan Raya Pengosekan Ubud, Bali Indonesia
Phone: (62 361) 976 659

Open 9am – 5pm daily.

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

This article was first published in Plural Art Magazine in Singapore December 2019:

Bali MegaRupa: a new era in government sponsored art infrastructure development in Bali?

Bali Deputy Governor Cokorda Ace during the opening of Bali Megarupa at ARMA 10 November 2019. Image courtesy Bali MegarupaBali Deputy Governor Cokorda Ace addresses officials in front of a painting by Made Budhiana during the opening of Bali Megarupa at ARMA 10 November 2019. Image courtesy Bali Megarupa

Bali Megarupa, a large-scale exhibition featuring one hundred and three modern and contemporary artist from throughout Bali, came to a close Sunday 10 November 2019.

An ambitious project, organized in a whirlwind three month period, was set over four locations in Gianyar; ARMA, Museum Puri Lukisan, Neka Art Museum and Bentara Budaya Bali. The event could signal a new proactive era in the development of the Bali art infrastructure from the Bali Provincial Government.

The Bali Provincial Government now has two distinct annual art events, the Bali Arts Festival held in Denpasar through June-July, with the objective of the preservation and development of the traditional arts, and Bali Jani Arts Festival for modern and contemporary art recently conducted October-November. Bali Jani is a new initiative of the Cultural Office of Provincial Bali under the leadership of Dr.Wayan Kun Adnayana, translating the vision of the Governor Wayan Koster, namely Nangun Sat Kerthi Loka Bali, dedicated to art and culture. Bali Megarupa is part of the Bali Jani Art Festival that accommodates the existing modern and contemporary artists and art communities.

"Pertarungan" 2019 - Putu Edy Asmara. Exhibited at Neka Art Museum Image Richard Horstman     ‘Pertarungan’ 2019 – Putu Edy Asmara. Exhibited at Neka Art Museum

“Bali Megarupa is a vehicle for the extensive socialization, mediation, and communication about the vision of advancing art in Bali. The event that will continue annually for five years with the dream of becoming a long-term yearly fixture on the Bali art calendar consolidated by Peratuan Daerah (Bali Provincial Law),“ said Kun Adnyana. “The objectives are to make Bali a centre for art, to realize the highest possible achievements for Balinese artists, and artists from outside of Bali, and to increase the creativity and productivity of Balinese artists producing original, and high-quality visual art.”

“This may be achieved by viewing the island as a large art studio emphasizing more collaborative and creative partnerships and increasing the necessary discourses among the artists, observers, thinkers, researchers, journalists, art lovers and stakeholders. One of the many desired outcomes being the improved public appreciation for the latest achievements of the Balinese visual arts,” he said.

During the opening ceremony of Bali Megarupa 10 October 2019 at ARMA, Dr Wayan Kun Adnyana presents the Bali Megarupa exhibition catalog to Bali Deputy Governor Cokorda Ace as ARMA founder Agung Rai looks on. Image coutesy of Bali Megarupa. During the opening ceremony of Bali Megarupa 10 October 2019 at ARMA, Head of the Cultural Office of  Provincial Bali Dr Wayan Kun Adnyana presents the Bali Megarupa exhibition catalogue to Bali Deputy Governor Cokorda Ace as ARMA founder Agung Rai looks on. Image courtesy of Bali Megarupa.

The opening ceremony of Bali Megarupa 10 October at ARMA in Ubud, included the spectacular Gladi Ritus Seni Tarirupabunyi “Kidung Megarupa” a contemporary art performance led by the renowned Nyoman Erawan, supported by a host of performers. ARMA, Puri Lukisan and Neka Museums presented two-dimensional works, while Bentara Budaya displayed both paintings and an array of sculptures and installations.

Some of the many highlights were ‘Ovarium’ 2019, a three-panel work of digital prints on paper by AS Kurnia, ‘Jejak Air,’2019 by Made Djirna, ‘Nafas Hidup’ 2019 revealing new abstract developments by Made Budhiana and Wayan Redika’s hyper-detailed pencil and charcoal work on canvas, ‘Tumbal Nusantara’ 2019 one display at ARMA. ‘Banaspati Raja’ 2019 by Wayan Adi Sucipta, Ari Winata’s ‘Bali Singahmadawa’ 2019, Limit, 2019 Gede Ngurah Pandji, ‘Sang Hyang Baruna’ 2019 by Made Karyana were eye-catching works at Puri Lukisan and ‘Pertarungan’ 2019 by Putu ‘Edy’ Asmara at Neka. ‘You Sit on my Shit’ 2019 by DP Arsa Putra, Putu Wirantawan’s ‘Gugusan Energi Alam Batin 7.3.10.019//’ 2019 and Dewa Rata Yoga’s four and a meter broad canvas ‘Menuju Harapan Baru’ 2019 were noteworthy at Bentara Budaya.

"Bali Singhamdawa" 2019 Nyoman Ari Winata. Image Richard Horstman                           ‘Bali Singhamdawa’ 2019 – Nyoman Ari Winata

Side events of Bali Megarupa were the discussion Gerakan Seni Rupa Bali sebagai Seruan Kesadaran (Bali Fine Arts Movement as a Call for Awareness) featuring speakers namely Nawa Tunggal (Kompas senior journalist), Bambang Bujono (cultural observer) and Dr Wayan Kun Adnyana attended by over 150 people at Neka Art Museum on 11th October, Lintas Media Bebas Rupa 26 October, another artist’s talk at Bentara Budaya this time addressing the public and school children led by Made Kaek with Made Bayak artist & Plasticology, Tjandra Hutama head of the Denpasar Photography association, illustrator Monez, and Kokosaja Video Artist. The closing of Bali MegaRupa featured a workshop conducted by the Baturlangun artist’s collective of Batuan with elementary school children from Batuan, and vocational school teenagers from SMK/SMSR Ubud, in the gardens of Musem Puri Lukisan.

The 2019 appointment of well-known Balinese artist and curator Kun Adnyana as the Head of the Cultural Office of the Province of Bali is significant to the future success of Bali Megarupa. Director of the Creative Team of Bali Megarupa Made Kaek stated, “Pak Kun Adnyana understands the potential of art in Bali and how it is necessary to have an adequate art infrastructure to embrace all existing potential. His role is strategic, and he is familiar with what is needed to build an art ecosystem. He has already proposed a budget for the Bali Jani Art Festival, including Bali Megarupa, in the 2020 regional planning forecasts.”

20191027_160042The art performance held during the opening of Bali Megarupa at ARMA. Image courtesy of Bali Megarupa

“Pak Kun Adnyana has asked the committee to evaluate Bali Megarupa to help determine the community’s satisfaction. There are internal research and a questionnaire that needs to be completed, along with careful planning for 2020. Our budget provision is highly planned, measured and accounted for,” Kaek continued. “Even though the exhibition has closed the public can still enjoy the artworks through the balimegarupa.id website which will develop into a digital gallery and documentation centre for all Balinese art.”

The feedback I have received about Bali Megarupa from various participants has generally been positive, and they are looking forward to the ongoing development of the event. A few comments, however, that the curatorial process needs improving, others questioned the extravagance of the opening ceremony, while some wonder if Megarupa will achieve any real positive outcomes. All agree that Bali Megarupa will benefit from a careful process of evaluation to help bring more real valuable results for stakeholders in the future.

"Menuju Harapan Baru" 2019 Dewa Rata Yoga exhibited at Bentara Budaya Bali. Image Richard Horstman‘Menuju Harapan Baru’ 2019 – Dewa Rata Yoga exhibited at Bentara Budaya Bali

During the closing event, 10 November at Puri Lukisan Kun Adnyana requested Bali Megarupa to embrace all stakeholders in Bali to expand cooperation networks to support this event to be bigger and stronger. “Big ideas will not develop if they are not executed properly through intensive collaborations, as a joint project with a strong vision to deliver tangible and valuable future outcomes that have a real impact,” he said.

Path Forward

 Kun Adnyana has welcomed “artists, observers, thinkers, researchers, journalists, art lovers and stakeholders”, to participate in “collaborative and creative partnerships, expand cooperative networks increasing the necessary discourses” beginning the task of reinvigorating the Bali art infrastructure. The process may start by assessing the art infrastructure, along with questionnaires to the art community and some of the vital infrastructure to determine the current state of where it is now. Defining a clear vision may be the next step, and what is the desired state by the end of the five years and then develop a road map to arrive at the destination.

"Jejak Air" 2019 - Made Djirna exhibited at ARMA. Image Richard Horstman                 ‘Jejak Air’ 2019 – Made Djirna exhibited at ARMA

A distinct feature of art is that it has unique and valuable social capital within this era of massive disruption. Art strengthens communities and improves the well-being of people’s lives and has a distinct transformational, yet underutilized, potency on Bali. A worthwhile task may be to understand what is a sustainable art ecosystem, and then fully explore all of the components of the Bali art ecosystem as it extends internationally. For Kun Adnyana, his team and the stakeholders’ opportunity awaits.

http://www.balimegarupa.id

Nyoman Erawan during the performance of Gladi Ritus Seni Tarirupabunyi "Kidung Megarupa" 10 October at ARMA Image courtesy of MegarupaNyoman Erawan during the performance of Gladi Ritus Seni Tarirupabunyi ‘Kidung Megarupa’ 10 October at ARMA Image courtesy of Bali Megarupa
Gugusan Energi Alam Batin 7.3.10.019 :: 2019 - Putu Wirantawan exhibited at Bentara Budaya Bali. Image Richard HorstmanGugusan Energi Alam Batin 7.3.10.019 // 2019 – Putu Wirantawan exhibited at Bentara Budaya Bali

Words: Richard Horstman

Photos: Courtesy of Bali Megarupa & Richard Horstman

New guidebook highlights artistic & design events in Bali throughout October – December 2019

The "Bali Art+Design Guide X Bali Art Roads" Oct - Dec 2019 Image Richard HorstmanThe first Bali Art+Design Guide X Bali Arts Road, a pocket guidebook that charts a plethora of events around the island, ranging over three months beginning in October, until the end of December 2019.

 

The Balinese Pawukon calendar is not used to measure time; it encompasses smaller cycles within larger ones. Its purpose is to pinpoint certain days that help to provide a cultural framework of how the people may most effectively conduct certain social, religious, agrarian and creative activities on the most auspicious days according to their sacred beliefs. The month of October presents many appropriate dates to hold artistic events; therefore it is crammed full with art and creative happenings; unofficially it is the ‘Bali Art Month’.

The favourable circumstances of timing have provided the unique opportunity, and inspired the creative communities of Bali, along with visiting internationals, to present a diverse program of events of the calibre to rival that from the creative hubs of Java, and the popular JAW (Jogja Art Weeks) held earlier this year throughout the Central Java regency, and Bandung Art Month, that recently concluded in mid-September in West Java.

Opening of "Mahardika" group exhibition 19 October at TiTian Art Space, Nyuh Kunning, Ubud. Image Richard HorstmanOpening of “Mahardika” group exhibition 19 October at TiTian Art Space, Nyuh Kuning, Ubud

 

2019 welcomes the publication of the first Bali Art+Design Guide X Bali Arts Road, a pocket guidebook that charts a plethora of events around the island, ranging over three months beginning in October, until the end of December. These events include exhibitions, film screenings, music, dance and theatre performances, discussions, open studios and festivals complete with the relevant details and appropriate maps.

“When I travel to other cities within Indonesia or abroad, I find having a guidebook focusing specifically on art and design is very helpful for discovering and exploring the local creative scenes,” said Suriawati Qiu, Bali Art+Design Guide X Bali Arts Road co-director and co-founder of CushCush Gallery in Denpasar. “There are many art and creative communities and spaces in Denpasar and Bali that are, unfortunately, relatively unknown to the public. Having Bali’s own Art+Design guidebook will benefit both our creative communities who are doing amazing works, as well as travellers and locals alike who are interested in art and design.”

The opening of Art Bali 2019 "Specultive Memories" was highlighted by a fashion parade by the Fashion Council of Western Australia (FCWA) which annually holds the Perth Fashion Festival (PFF) Image Richard HorstmanThe opening of Art Bali 2019 ‘Speculative Memories’ was highlighted by a fashion parade by the Fashion Council of Western Australia (FCWA) which annually holds the Perth Fashion Festival (PFF)

 

The Bali Art+Design Guide X Bali Arts Road is an evolution from the DenPasar Art+Design Map first published in 2017 in conjunction with DenPasar Art+Design program, a collective effort by the creative communities of Denpasar along with CushCush Gallery as the central activities venue. It set out to mark the city with its distinct character as a hub for contemporary arts, design and culture.

In 2019 CushCush Gallery collaborates with ART • BALI, the second edition of the annual Indonesian contemporary art exhibition organized by Heri Pemad Management of Yogyakarta, Central Java. Themed SPECULATIVE MEMORIES, open 13 October 2019 – 13 January 2020, it is held at the AB • BC Building, Bali Collection, ITDC District, Nusa Dua, Bali. The exhibition presents forty-nine selected works, consisting of paintings, sculptures, installations, photography, multimedia and video from 32 Indonesian and overseas artists who also reside and, or work in Indonesia. It showcases some of the finest established and emerging contemporary artists in Bali’s premiere; purpose-built international standard exhibition space to local and foreign audiences.

Seminyak Design Week -EXHIBITION VIEW PHOTO Courtesy - ANDITO WASI                         Seminyak Design Week – exhibition view

 

Bali Arts Roads (BAR) was an initiative introduced by ART • BALI in 2018 as a side program to highlight and promote the depth of the Bali art community through exhibitions, events and open studios programs throughout the island. This year it combines with the DenPasar Art+Design Map into 180-page booklet helping to consolidate Bali’s diverse array of creativity. This year the guide covers events and programs not only in Denpasar but also in Ubud, Seminyak, Canggu and Nusa Dua, during October – December, with over 130 events listed. The booklet features a QR Code that pinpoints selected event destinations on Google Maps to allow direct and straightforward navigation.

The guide also includes important cultural and institutional locations such as museums, government and cultural institutions, art and design educational institutions, cultural heritage sites, public spaces and monuments within the city of Denpasar. Some of the festivals featured are Seminyak Design Week 2019 18 – 27 October themed “Designing for a Better Community” and runs with a program of exhibitions, talks, pop-up markets, a design trail and workshops at Gallery Vivere and Uma Seminyak. The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, 23 – 27 October (festival events noted within the booklet), and Kita Lo Gini 5 at ISI Denpasar, a student art party presenting artworks and performances 25 – 26 October.

Artists pose with their works during the opening of during the opening of "Art Exhibition by Children Sanggar Bares - There is no Truth only HONESTY" 12 – 31 October at the Nyana Tilem Museum, in Mas. Image courtesy Soemantri WidagdoArtists pose with their works during the opening of ‘Art Exhibition by Children Sanggar Bares – There is no Truth only HONESTY’ 12 – 31 October at the Nyana Tilem Museum, in Mas

 

Other diverse happenings include tours, Urban Walk Denpasar a free open to the public guided tour of Denpasar heritage sites on 2 November, Herb Walk on 27 October, an investigation into the edible medicinal plants and related practices, Basic Macrame Workshop 12 October at CANAAN X ROU, Seminyak, Curator in Residence, a program initiated by DenPasar Art + Design: In Transition November – December at CushCush Gallery, Denpasar with the curatorial conversation #1 14 December, International Conference ICATUS 2019 the first international conference on architecture, technology and urban sustainability 27 – 28 November at Gedung Pascasarjana, Kampus UNUD, Denpasar, Parade Teater Canasta, 23 – 30 November at Canasta Creative Space Denpasar featuring Balinese theatre communities and the Odyssey Music Art Conference & Day Festival 2019 10 – 13 October at Artotel Sanur and Artotel Beach Club.

Just a few of the art exhibitions during October: Natisa Jones’s Love is Never Lonely 5 October – 9 November at Tony Raka Gallery, Ubud a ‘diversion’ from her signature style paintings. Frequency Balinese Art, Culture and Rerajahan a collection of Balinese amulet inscriptions known as rerajahan by Jro Mangku Badra, displayed within an art context and created without the sacred ritual and mantras to instil the ink drawings with their renown mystical powers, open 9 October at ARMA, in Ubud. From 10 October – 24 November at Artotel Sanur It Isn’t a Whole a solo exhibition by Putu Adi Suanjaya, and an Art Exhibition by Children “Sanggar Bares” There is no Truth only HONESTY 12 – 31 October at the Nyana Tilem Museum, in Mas.

"Jalan - Jalan" Indieguerillas at Art Bali. Image Richard Horstman                         ‘Jalan – Jalan’ Indieguerillas at Art Bali

 

The ongoing mission of Kemal Ezedine and Ketut Moniarta from the Neo Pitamaha art movement is to invigorate Balinese art by inspiring young artists to explore fresh possibilities within the technical context of the Balinese painting traditions. Drawing Bali Today opens at Sika Gallery, Ubud from 10 October 10 November. Sudra Sutra, an iconographical interpretation of the Yeh Pulu reliefs and related history by Dr Wayan Kun Adnyana opened 11 October at Neka Art Museum, Ubud until 19th October is a continuation of his visual representation inspired by the ancient Yeh Pulu stone reliefs in Bedhulu Gianyar.

Megarupa 22 October opens at ARMA Ubud with coinciding exhibitions at two other venues, the Neka Art Museum and Bentara Budaya Bali featuring the works of 103 artists, presented by the Cultural Office of the Provence of Bali. TiTian Art Space in its new premises on Jalan Raya Nyuh Kuning, Ubud present Mahardika a group exhibition 19 October – 24 November. Also open 24 October at Taman Baca, Sanggingan Ubud, Stories from Mt. Agung children’s stories of trauma expressed through drawing and poetry. Maladjustment opens 26 October – 24 November at Neka Art Museum and presents iconic artworks by Indonesian artists Arahmaiani and I GAK Murniasih along with Australian artist Mary Lou Pavlovic who exhibits her landmark, 2004 work Liar!

Audience at the opening of Drawing Bali Today at Sika Gallery. Image by @febrimarleni.           The audience at the opening of ‘Drawing Bali Today’ at Sika Gallery

 

Denpasar and Bali are increasingly developing as exciting and engaging destinations for national and international creatives to visit regularly, or to reside permanently. In recent years its art and design infrastructure has witnessed defining new growth. This provides more opportunities for participants to thrive within the burgeoning 21st – century creative economy while leading to a healthier ecosystem. These developments, importantly become a stimulant in reviving art and cultural tourism on the island of Bali.

Bali Art+Design Guide X Bali Arts Road booklet is available from numerous program participants distributed to more than 70 points throughout Bali and from AB • BC Building, Bali Collection, Nusa Dua.

Or it can be downloaded: http://artbali.co.id/page.php?p=bar

"Sarinin Angkus Prana" by Jro Mangku Badra exhibited at ARMA in "Frequency Balinese Art, Culture and Rerajahan" Image Richard Horstman‘Sarinin Angkus Prana’ by Jro Mangku Badra exhibited at ARMA in ‘Frequency Balinese Art, Culture and Rerajahan’

 

 

Words: Richard Horstman