Bali art – Balibs http://balibs.org/ Sat, 02 Oct 2021 09:58:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8 https://balibs.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/cropped-icon-32x32.png Bali art – Balibs http://balibs.org/ 32 32 Overview of the sale of traditional, modern and contemporary art in Larasati Bali – art & culture https://balibs.org/overview-of-the-sale-of-traditional-modern-and-contemporary-art-in-larasati-bali-art-culture/ https://balibs.org/overview-of-the-sale-of-traditional-modern-and-contemporary-art-in-larasati-bali-art-culture/#respond Fri, 30 Apr 2021 07:00:00 +0000 https://balibs.org/overview-of-the-sale-of-traditional-modern-and-contemporary-art-in-larasati-bali-art-culture/ A fascinating aspect of Balinese art is the way Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno (1901-1970), used images of Bali as a powerful political tool. A passionate art collector whose mother was Balinese, Sukarno adopted images inherited from colonial times to integrate Bali into the modern Indonesian state. Symbols of beauty, peace and harmony, Balinese paintings went […]]]>

A fascinating aspect of Balinese art is the way Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno (1901-1970), used images of Bali as a powerful political tool. A passionate art collector whose mother was Balinese, Sukarno adopted images inherited from colonial times to integrate Bali into the modern Indonesian state. Symbols of beauty, peace and harmony, Balinese paintings went on to represent the new nation on the international geopolitical scene during the 1950s.

Works ranked by the Ubud School of Painting as the most famous Balinese art genre are featured in the upcoming Larasati Bali Traditional, Modern and Contemporary Art Sale in Ubud on Saturday. Some of the renowned artists included in the sale are Ida Bagus Made Poleng, Ida Bagus Nadera, Gusti Ketut Kobot and her brother Gusti Made Mangku Baret. Ida Bagus Rai, Anak Agung Gde Meregeg, the unique innovator Dewa Putu Mokoh (1934-2010), as well as the famous Dutch artists Willem Gerard Hofker and Arie Smit.

Starting at 3 p.m. Saturday, 40 works of art go under the hammer at the Larasati Bali Art Space at Tebesaya Gallery, Tebesaya, Ubud.

A virtual exhibition, open from April 23 to Saturday, offers a friendly overview of the sale within a digital space, allowing close observation and varied perspectives as if one were walking in a gallery. The sale features various mediums and genres of painting, from lush tropical views to golden rice field crops, Balinese village and mythological scenes, as well as works in a range of prices suitable for those with limited funds, collectors. intermediate and advanced.

For enthusiasts who want to start collecting on a budget, the following works offer good buying opportunities, especially if purchased within their estimated prices. Limited edition posters of the iconic Bali, printed in the Netherlands by one of the most famous European artists to visit and work in Bali, Hofker (1902-1981), are for sale.

Lot 701, Ni Gusti Njoman Klépon, 30 centimeters by 22 cm, and Lot 702, Ryst Veld Achter Ons Huis Op Ubud, Bali, which measures 32cm by 23cm, are in good condition, framed and are estimated to be priced between Rp 3 million (US $ 208) and Rp 5 million.

Then there is lot 709, Bima fights the beast by Dewa Ketut Ding (1920-1996), acrylic on canvas 58 cm by 38 cm, estimated to cost between Rp 6 million and Rp 10 million. Also, Lot 729, Upacara Potong Gigi, by Made Tubuh (born 1941 in Ubud), acrylic on canvas measuring 42 cm by 66 cm, is estimated to be priced between Rp 4 million and Rp 6 million.

For buyers with an intermediate budget, the following works are interesting.

First there is lot 710, The battle of Kurusetra, who is from one of the first generation painters of the famous artist collective Pita Maha founded in Ubud (1936-1942), Anak Agung Gde Meregeg (1908 / 1912-2000). The 66cm by 100cm acrylic on canvas composition features mythological figures depicting the forces of darkness against light and is estimated to be priced between Rp 40million and Rp 50million.

A windswept background combined with the dynamic movement of traditional dancers perfectly captures the movement and energy that describes the visible and invisible worlds of Bali.

Lot 734, Kecak Dance Performing Rama and Shinta, is a 50cm x 39cm acrylic painting on canvas by Nyoman Kayun (born 1954 in Peliatan, Ubud). This beautiful animated image has an estimated price between Rp38million and Rp48million. Lot 737, Pandawa dalam Pengasingan by Ida Bagus Rai (1933 – 2007), is acrylic on canvas, 76 cm by 58 cm and has an estimated value between Rp 15 million and Rp 20 million.

For connoisseurs of Balinese painting, the following works are interesting. Iconic Dutch colourist and longtime Bali resident Arie Smit (1916-2016) is renowned for his stylistic interpretations of village and landscape scenarios. Lot 723, Pemandangan Laut, 2006, however, is one of its rare seascapes. The acrylic composition on canvas measuring 42 cm by 49 cm, dominated by blues describing the sky and the sea, is signed and dated lower right; inscribed, signed and dated on the back and has an estimated value between Rp 75 million and Rp 85 million. The work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

Paintings by Ida Bagus Made Poleng (1915-1999), celebrated as one of the most important Balinese painters of the 20e-th century, are very popular with collectors. Lot 710, Barong Dance Performing Calonarang, is an acrylic composition on canvas measuring 64 cm by 56 cm of balance and precision, describing drama and conflict. The lower left corner represents a performer of the sacred purification ceremony dressed as a monkey. He brazenly tries the Barong (mythological creature resembling a panther) with a banana. Immediately to the right, in direct contrast, another performer is overwhelmed by the spell of Rangda, the wicked witch, and is shown stabbing himself with the ceremonial kris.

Lot 710, “The Battle of Kurusetra”, Anak Agung Gde Meregeg. Acrylic on canvas, 66 centimeters by 100 cm. (JP / Courtesy of the Larasati auctioneers)

The top half of the roster is also complete with high drama. As the eye of the beholder is drawn in a circular motion around the image, the visual stimulus, from dramatic to peaceful, represents the duality of life. The painting has a strong provenance. It was purchased directly from the artist in the 1960s and was previously part of the collection of Leonard Mattson, UNESCO Ambassador to Indonesia in the 1960s. Lot 740 has an estimated value of Rp 300 million and 400 million Rp.

Other works of interest in the sale are lot 726, Sore Suasana, by Ni Gusti Agung Galuh. The most prominent Balinese woman painter in the magnificent and highly technical style of oil on canvas was the pioneer of renowned Bali cultural expert and multi-talented creative German, Walter Spies (1895-1942). The 60cm by 80cm composition depicting the beautiful late afternoon ambience of lush tropical Bali is estimated to be priced between Rp 32million and Rp 42million.

Nyoman Wirdana (born 1976 in Tejakula, north Bali) is an artist of extraordinary talent who, unfortunately, remains virtually unknown. His amazingly technically accurate oil paintings take up to 18 months and are rarely available on the aftermarket. One of the rare contemporary works offered during the sale is lot 713, Ganesh Samara, 2011, which measures 128 cm by 160 cm. This beautiful composition with fluid organic and floral shapes with minimal green coloring creating a powerful visual contrast with the dominant shades of reddish pink, has an estimated value between Rp 15 million and Rp 20 million.

The story of the Rajapala describes a young hunter who, while wandering in the forest, meets a group of heavenly nymphs bathing in a stream. Rajapala steals the shawl from one of the beauties, so she can’t go home and he can make her his wife. One of the most famous accounts of Balinese folklore is reinterpreted by Gusti Made Mangku Baret (1920-2012). Lot 738, Rajapala Mencuri Selendang Bidadari, 1983, has an estimated value of between Rp 20 million and Rp 30 million.

Potential buyers bidding over the phone, absent bidders or real-time internet bidders are advised to contact Larasati and inquire about the accuracy of the color reproduction of the images in the online catalog to ensure that what they want to buy can be realistically assessed. The absence of a reference to the condition of a lot in the catalog description does not imply that the lot is free from defects or imperfections; therefore, work status reports describing the current state of the paintwork and whether there are any repairs or repaints are available on request.

Provenance, the historical data of the previous owner of the work, is also important and is provided. An informational guide is provided before the auction, during the auction and after the auction, detailing trade terms, the bidding process, payment, storage and insurance, and shipping the work. A purchase premium is payable by the buyer of each lot at the rate of 22% of the auction price of the lot. The online catalog, along with a guide for potential buyers, is publicly available and should be carefully considered by anyone wishing to participate in this auction.

All of the works offered in the online list include a brief status report made by Larasati based on his observation of the work. Larasati specialists are not professional restorers; therefore, they suggest that the potential buyer consult their own restaurateur for a more in-depth professional report. Larasati emphasizes that the works should be seen personally by professional advisers before the sale to assess the conditions of the work.

Preview of the virtual exhibition online until Saturday.

Physical preview at Larasati Bali Art Space:

April 30: 11 am-6pm
May 1: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The live auction, open to the public, begins at 3 p.m.

Larasati Bali Art Space
at the Tebesaya gallery
Jl. Jatayu, Banjar Tebesaya, Peliatan, Ubud
Gianyar, Bali 80571 Indonesia

All visitors to the Larasati Bali Art Space are required to wear face masks.


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‘Welcome to Paradise’: a Dutch exhibition reinvents contemporary Bali – art & culture https://balibs.org/welcome-to-paradise-a-dutch-exhibition-reinvents-contemporary-bali-art-culture/ https://balibs.org/welcome-to-paradise-a-dutch-exhibition-reinvents-contemporary-bali-art-culture/#respond Wed, 08 May 2019 07:00:00 +0000 https://balibs.org/welcome-to-paradise-a-dutch-exhibition-reinvents-contemporary-bali-art-culture/ A Dutch museum is holding its first major exhibition on one of the world’s most famous islands until May 26, covering Bali’s unique form of Hinduism, its bloody colonial past and current environmental threats. “Our idea is that you come to the exhibition with the knowledge of a tourist and leave as a seasoned traveler,” […]]]>

A Dutch museum is holding its first major exhibition on one of the world’s most famous islands until May 26, covering Bali’s unique form of Hinduism, its bloody colonial past and current environmental threats.

“Our idea is that you come to the exhibition with the knowledge of a tourist and leave as a seasoned traveler,” said Francine Brinkgreve, curator of South East Asia at the Volkenkunde museum, at the opening of the exhibition. “Bali – Welcome to paradise” in Leiden. .

The Volkenkunde Museum, also known as the National Museum of Ethnology, is one of the oldest ethnology museums in the world.

Despite being located on the other side of the world from the small island in East Java, the Netherlands has centuries of historical ties to Bali through its colonial rule of the Indonesian archipelago.

Brinkgreve said the exhibition aims to educate visitors about “the other side of marketing and tourist havens. […] using current personal stories, historical and contemporary objects, religious and everyday art, photographs and films ”.

Imagine paradise: two visitors bask in the deckchairs displayed in the lobby of “Bali – Welcome to paradise”. The exhibition will run until May 26 at the Volkenkunde Museum in Leiden, the Netherlands. (Courtesy of the Volkenkunde Museum / Kirsten van Santen)

The entrance hall of the exhibition has giant screens depicting “paradise” in the form of waves breaking on a white sand beach, tourists in temples and Balinese in colorful traditional costume. Two beach chairs with parasol are welcomingly arranged in the middle of the hall.

The exhibition then opens with five thematic rooms: the first room provides tourist statistics and their links with the island’s agriculture. A hallway filled with textiles, knick-knacks and other typical memorabilia leads to rooms showcasing Dutch colonial history in Bali, Hinduism and art. The exhibition ends in a spacious area showcasing the main rituals of the island, with a full-size surround display.

“The rooms are located in such a way that visitors start with the most obvious images of Bali and slowly gain a deeper understanding of the island and its people,” said exhibition organizer Anna Tiedink.

One of the topics that the exhibition clearly intended to highlight is Bali’s growing environmental problem: just behind the big screen displaying the “paradise” beach is an image of the Kuta seaside, literally buried under plastic waste. Directly opposite, an equally large screen shows the typical congestion of overcrowded Bali towns.

Besides the mountain of trash left behind by millions of tourists, artist and environmental activist Made Bayak makes an insightful cultural observation about local contributions to the waste problem. “In the past, we ate leaves and tosses, which was good because they are biodegradable. But with plastic it’s very different, and our people still aren’t fully aware of it, ”he says in a video.

Made also talks about Bali’s water problem created by the growing tourism industry. “A five-star hotel uses more water in a day than an entire village. This puts the island’s agriculture, which was previously key to Bali’s existence, under intense pressure, especially as acres of arable land continue to be sold to real estate developers and turned into hotel complexes or villas.

The looming environmental disaster has a silver lining, the exhibit notes: Beneath the image of Kuta’s plastic horror is a video from the Soul Surf Project, one of the many environmental organizations active in Bali.

The Soul Surf Project focuses on educating children about the environment and encouraging them to participate in tackling the problem. “During our visits to Bali, we became increasingly aware of local initiatives trying to solve the plastic problem,” noted Brinkgreve.

She points out that “Welcome to Paradise” is the first exhibition on Bali that places the environmental issue in context: “Past exhibitions in Bali focused mainly on art, culture, religion and rituals”.

Sightseeing: Visitors look at typical Balinese souvenirs in a hallway of the Sightseeing: Visitors view typical Balinese souvenirs in a hallway of the “Welcome to Heaven” exhibit at the Volkenkunde Museum in Leiden, The Netherlands. (Credit: Museum Volkenkunde / Kirsten van Santen)

A video featuring I Dewa Ayu Evayanti, a 26-year-old who works in a villa, sums up how much tourism is part of the life of many Balinese: “I have been selling postcards to tourists since I was in third grade. year. she says.

When Mount Agung rumbled and erupted in 2017, Ayu Evayanti said the villa had been vacant for at least a month. “Without tourists, we would be unemployed,” she says.

About 40% of the 14.4 million international tourists received by Indonesia in 2017 traveled to Bali, which represents only 0.2% of the country’s total land mass.

In the same year, the island also received 8.7 million domestic tourists. Compare that to the hundreds of foreign tourists who visited Bali in 1900, when the Netherlands was tightening its grip on the island.

The Dutch colonized the island relatively late: it was not until the early 20th century that the Balinese kingdoms were brought under control. This period was also marked by the infamous puputan ritual, in which kings, royal families and hundreds of subjects committed suicide rather than surrender to their enemy.

On one wall of the exhibition is a quote from painter WOJ Nieuwenkamp, ​​who was in Bali in 1906 to collect items for the Volkenkunde Museum. His testimony of a puputan in Badung reads: “Our soldiers stood with cannons at the entrance (of the palace). Each time, a hundred Balinese – men, women and children – passed in front of the gates. The men stabbed the women and children to death, rushed at the troops, and offered to be shot. […] The king himself came out carried on a sedan chair, dressed in all the adornments and ended his life like the others.

Silent Witness: These intricately carved wooden double doors of Badung Palace witnessed the tragedy that occurred at the turn of the 20th century when the Dutch overpowered the Sultanate.  At a height of 4 meters, the doors are arranged at an angle to fit into the exhibition hall. Silent Witness: These intricately carved wooden double doors of Badung Palace witnessed the tragedy that occurred at the turn of the 20th century when the Dutch overpowered the Sultanate. At a height of 4 meters, the doors are arranged at an angle to fit into the exhibition hall. (Linawati Sidarto / -)

The most impressive object in the exhibition is a silent witness to this tragedy: a four meter high intricately carved wooden double door from Badung Palace.

“They (the Dutch soldiers) wanted to use the gates as a bridge over some water pipes for army use… Nieuwenkamp observed.

The exhibition explains that “in order to make people forget the violence in the Netherlands and the rest of the world, the colonial government created the image of Bali as an island paradise. In no time, the tourism industry took off ”.

The local art community has received international momentum from a group of European painters who have worked and settled in Bali, such as Walter Spies, whose work is part of the exhibition.

In an essay on the exhibition published in the Trouw daily, philosophy professor Jos de Mul noted: “The spies insisted that Balinese painters adapt the format of their paintings to the size of tourists’ suitcases. “

Works by young artists are on display alongside more traditional Balinese paintings in the exhibition’s art gallery, such as that by I Wayan Aris Sarmanta Bali Not For Sale (Tangis Amarah Pulau Kecil), which depicts an angry red-faced child with an island-shaped crown and the words “Sold Out” on his chest.

Tiedink, who had never been to Bali before her research trip last year for the exhibit, said what surprised her most was “how actively the younger generation is involved in their religious customs. and cultural, ”as the Bali Life Cycle videos show. rituals of marriage, tooth filing, birth ceremonies and cremation.

However, mention of contemporary violence on the island is conspicuously absent from an exhibit that attempts to show the dark side of Bali: the massacres that followed the failed 1965 coup blamed on the Indonesian Communists, and the terrorist attacks. terrorists of 2002 and 2005 who killed hundreds. Balinese and foreign tourists.

“Space was limited and we had to make choices,” Brinkgreve said in response to the omission.

Rob Badoux, a visitor to the museum, mostly saw the sunny side of the island. “It’s beautifully staged: the rituals, the colors. It really inspired us to go and visit Bali, ”he said.

Hansje Heller, who visited Bali last year, said she particularly liked “the combination of art and history” in the exhibit. (ste)


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Traditional and contemporary artwork ready to auction in Bali – arts & culture https://balibs.org/traditional-and-contemporary-artwork-ready-to-auction-in-bali-arts-culture/ https://balibs.org/traditional-and-contemporary-artwork-ready-to-auction-in-bali-arts-culture/#respond Thu, 23 Aug 2018 07:00:00 +0000 https://balibs.org/traditional-and-contemporary-artwork-ready-to-auction-in-bali-arts-culture/ Each year, Larasati Auctioneers, Indonesia’s oldest fine art auction house, hosts two auctions in Ubud showcasing traditional Balinese art. On August 26, 74 items will be on sale at the traditional, modern and contemporary art auction. Open to the public, viewing begins at 11 a.m. on August 24 at Tebesaya Gallery’s Larasati Art Space, Ubud, […]]]>

Each year, Larasati Auctioneers, Indonesia’s oldest fine art auction house, hosts two auctions in Ubud showcasing traditional Balinese art. On August 26, 74 items will be on sale at the traditional, modern and contemporary art auction.

Open to the public, viewing begins at 11 a.m. on August 24 at Tebesaya Gallery’s Larasati Art Space, Ubud, Bali. The sale is hosted by a collection of Charles Powell, USA, and three beautiful traditional paintings by Wayan Radjin from the 1970s.

The sale features old master works of traditional genres, unique and rare paintings, works with investment potential and a range of compositions that provide good market entry opportunities for new collectors.

Catering to a range of tastes, the works on offer include ink and watercolor on paper, modern Indonesian art, modern and contemporary Balinese paintings and works in traditional styles, as well as wood carving. . The distinguished Balinese artists featured are Ida Bagus Made Poleng, Ida Bagus Made Widja, Gusti Ketut Kobot and Nyoman Gunarsa.

For new buyers looking to enter the market, the estimated prices for this sale start at Rp 500,000 (US $ 35). Auctions offer buying opportunities at much cheaper prices than buying works directly from the artist’s studio or galleries.

These works by respected old masters will be of interest to connoisseurs of Balinese art. Tjokorda Oka Gambir (1902-1975) is one of the founders of the Ubud school of painting, lot n ° 549 “Mythological scene in the Kamasan style” is a large work of 248 x 132 cm in natural color on fabric with an estimated price between Rp 65-80 million, while lot # 550 “Garuda & Wisnu” is from one of the esteemed masters of the influential Pitamaha Artists Association of Ubud (1936-1945), Gusti Ketut Kobot (1917-1999) with an estimated price between Rp 95-110 million.

Lot # 574 “Taris Bali” is a superbly balanced composition of a traditionally dressed Balinese warrior emerging from the forest performing the unique warrior dance of Ida Bagus Made Poleng (1915 – 1999) who is considered one of the best Balinese painters of the past century. This work bears the stamped identification which guarantees the authenticity of the Ida Bagus Made Foundation, and has an estimated price of between Rp 165-190 million.

The following are rare pieces lot # 544; “Sarasvati” is a youthful work by respected painter Batuan Wayan Taweng (1922 – 2004) who trained with Nyoman Ngendon (1906 – 1946) with an estimated price of Rp 10-15 million. Wayan Radjin (born in 1945) is the son of the famous artist from Batuan I Djata, considered to be the founding father of the Batuan school. Lot # 527 “Ramayana Membebaskan Dewi Sita” by Radjin is a beautiful acrylic on canvas composition with an estimated price of Rp 28-38 million. Most of Radjin’s works are on paper, and such a quality is arriving. rarely on the market.

Also Read: A Sneak Peek at the 2017 Larasati Art Auction

Lot # 572 “Iringan Pengatin” is a unique work because it is a cluttered composition by the famous painter of the unconventional Dewa Putu Mokoh (1913 – 2010), and has an estimated price between 7 and 10 million Rp, while lot # 521 “Ibu dan Anak”, featuring a composition of a mother and her child, is also an unusual work by Dewa Ketut Rungun (1922-1986), who is known for his bird compositions. Its price is estimated between 15 and 20 million Rp.

The opportunities for good investments are lot # 513a. “Di Malam Ini” and b. “Aku dan Dia Bermain”, two paintings by Indonesia’s most important female artist I Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniashi (1966 – 2006), with a combined estimated price of Rp 18-25 million, and lot no. “Bali Life” by Ketut Gelgel, estimated to be priced between Rp 95 and 110 million.

New collectors have the opportunity to enter the market with Lot # 507 “Hierarkie” by Susilo Budi Purwanto, “Berburu Kuda”, Lot # 512 by Made Wiradana, and two abstract oil paintings, Lot # 540 “Kampung Nelayan Kusamba” and lot # 541 “Gunungan Semar” by the famous Javanese painter Bagong Kussudiardjo (1928-2004), and the beautiful fluid forms of flora and fauna from “Burung Burung Bangau”, lot # 573 of Dewa Ketut Rungun. Emerging Balinese artist Ngakan Putu Agus Arta Wijaya is a young artist worth watching, with excellent technical skills, great ideas and a distinctive style.

Other popular artists on sale are famous Dutch colorist Arie Smit, Otto Djaja, Mochtar Apin, Jehan, Ida Bagus Nyoman Rai, Nyoman Dewa Jati, Dewa Putu Bedil and Agung Mangu Putra.

For buyers looking to invest, it is important to have a strategy, to buy and hold for at least 10 to 15 years, and to invest early in an artist before everyone else embarks on the project. Marlet. Look for rare and unique works – uniqueness referring to the quality and frequency with which the artist creates such an image or composition. The provenance of a painting is important for established taste and also for authenticity, because the more important the previous owners, the better. This also includes the exhibition history of the work and its inclusion in books or catalogs.

Potential buyers who bid by phone or via the internet in real time and who are unable to attend preview days or auctions are encouraged to contact Larasati and inquire about the accuracy of the color reproduction of the images in the catalog. online to ensure that what they want to buy can be realistically valued. The absence of a reference to the state of a lot in the catalog description does not imply that the lot is free from defects or imperfections, therefore work status reports, describing the current state of the painting and if it has repairs or over-painting, are available on request.

Provenance, historical data of the previous owner (s) of the work are also important and are provided. An informative guide including pre-auction, during auction and after-auction details including trade terms, bidding process, payment, storage and insurance, and shipping of the artwork is also available. A purchase premium is payable by the buyer of each lot at the rate of 22% of the auction price of the lot.

The online catalog, accompanied by a guide for potential buyers is available at larasati.com. (kes)

*****

Display:

  • August 24, from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • August 25, 11 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • August 26, 11 am-1pm

Auction: August 26 from 2:30 p.m.

Place: Larasati Bali Art Space at the Tebesaya gallery, Jl. Jatayu, Banjar Tebesaya, Peliatan, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali

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Smart’s East-meets-West immersive puppet exhibitions in Bali – arts & culture https://balibs.org/smarts-east-meets-west-immersive-puppet-exhibitions-in-bali-arts-culture/ https://balibs.org/smarts-east-meets-west-immersive-puppet-exhibitions-in-bali-arts-culture/#respond Tue, 26 Jun 2018 07:00:00 +0000 https://balibs.org/smarts-east-meets-west-immersive-puppet-exhibitions-in-bali-arts-culture/ Contemporary Australian artist Sally Smart has a long-standing connection with Indonesia, having exhibited for the first time in 2005 at the Jogja Biennale. “I have a particular fascination with shadow theater and have had a collection of wayang kulit puppets for many years. It inspired my interest in the representation of the shadow world and […]]]>

Contemporary Australian artist Sally Smart has a long-standing connection with Indonesia, having exhibited for the first time in 2005 at the Jogja Biennale.

“I have a particular fascination with shadow theater and have had a collection of wayang kulit puppets for many years. It inspired my interest in the representation of the shadow world and its narrative dimension, across cultures, ”said Smart. “I regularly visit Yogyakarta, where I have built relationships with artists and artisans with whom I continue to collaborate and engage in immersive dialogue and practice, examining cultural history and commonalities in the post-colonial world discourse. “

In 2012, as a Sackler Fellow at the University of Connecticut, USA, Smart worked with the School of Puppet Arts and in Animation at the Digital Media and Design School, learning shadow puppet techniques and creating a series of works also including moving images..

His puppet creations are a fusion of eastern and western cultures. The artist is also inspired by the European avant-garde artists who founded the Dada movement, as well as the philosophies of constructivism. She positions early 20th century experimental choreography, costume and theater design alongside traditional Indonesian shadow puppet performances.

The “immediacy and simplicity” of collage as a powerful contemporary art is often overlooked. The practice of cutting and reassembling, taking from one source to complete another, is a disruptive, yet very creative method with unlimited potential. For Smart, it is the communication base for his artistic ideas.

“The cutout methodology has been an integral part of my practice since the early 90s – the expression of a cutout – aligns silhouette and shadow play conceptually and technically,” she said.

Honold Fine Art (HFA) showcases Smart’s latest offerings in parallel solo exhibitions at two different locations in Bali. From June 19, The choreography of the cup exhibited at the Tony Raka Art Gallery, Ubud, and PARADE at BIASA in Kerobokan.

His work “speaks” of the human body as a vector of expression through movement, performance and gesture, revealing collective and individual anxieties while questioning the status quo.

At a glance, the two shows seem like worlds apart, but they are intrinsically linked, with PARADE being the perfect synthesis of the two works of Smart exhibited in Ubud. On display at Tony Raka is Chout Ballet Curtain, (The choreography of the cup), 2018, a huge 350 x 900 cm wall hanging, in which abstract organic shapes and imaginary landscapes come to life on Smart’s colorful textile curtain which includes photographic dye transfer prints on satin and chiffon, with multiple elements of collage. And Puppets (The choreography of cutting), 2016-18, is a multimedia installation of more than 30 abstract hanging puppets of different sizes with moving parts.

PARADE is inspired by Smart’s encounter with the huge stage curtain that Pablo Picasso painted for the ballet Parade in 1917, which was exhibited in Rome in 2017. In Smart’s PARADE, which features Parade (Dancing), 2018, Staging of the Studio (Blaubart & Pina), 2017-18, and Drama (studio staging), 2018 – all floor-to-ceiling curtains with photographic dye-to-textile transfers with collage elements – a cast of characters is depicted on transparent textiles, crossing and overlapping to create multiple performance images.

While Chout ballet curtain is dominated by strong colors and dense and “heavy” fabrics, the illusory impact emphasizes the laws of gravity which anchor the observer to the ground.

PARADE, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. Its multiple transparent films are soft and delicate, soothing to the eyes, while its transparent qualities with superimposed figures seem sensual, a look of the most powerful.

The air conditioning choreographs gentle rhythmic waves of movement across the surfaces of the curtain which are seemingly engaged in a dance of their own, and we are captivated by the dynamic interaction of Smart’s superimposed translucent “performers”. Our vision is then drawn upwards, allowing us to feel uplifted and expansive. The beauty and simplicity of the material are alluring; our experience is powerful and ethereal.

One of Australia’s foremost contemporary artists, Smart is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades. She is currently Vice-Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne and a member of the board of directors of the National Association for the Visual Arts. She is represented in important international public and private art collections. Recognized internationally for its large-scale cut-out assembly installations and, increasingly, its performances, Smart’s artistic practice engages identity politics and the complex relationships between body, thoughts and cultures.

The most enjoyable aspects of Smart’s work are the opportunities for interaction with the audience and for personal artistic experiences. His installations invite the observer to venture closer, to walk in him and to participate in another imaginary world. In response, some people come alive in their own intimate performance, which has the potential to touch them deeply while being encoded in their memories.

“I am interested in observing the public engage physically with my work,” said the artist. “As performance and movement are conceptually integrated into the works, the feeling of movement and dance in the space becomes evident with the puppets and the curtains, making it dynamic and engaging. I was excited to see this.

When asked if she thinks society would derive greater benefits from contemporary art as artists seek new avenues to create more positive opportunities for new and personal artistic experiences for audiences, Smart responded. : “Yes, always, when something is triggered, even the slightest gesture, reveal and present possibilities of new ways of thinking an engagement in all aspects of society. Art creates essential paths. (kes)

What or: The choreography of the cup, Tony Raka Art Gallery, Jl. Raya Mas 86, Mas, Ubud; PARADE. at BIASA, Jl. Raya Kerobokan 51X, Kerobokan

When: From June 17 to July 17, 2018

Website: www.sallysmart.com

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Jakarta Post.


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TRIAL: Watch ‘Floating Chopin’ in Bali – Arts & Culture https://balibs.org/trial-watch-floating-chopin-in-bali-arts-culture/ https://balibs.org/trial-watch-floating-chopin-in-bali-arts-culture/#respond Mon, 30 Jan 2017 08:00:00 +0000 https://balibs.org/trial-watch-floating-chopin-in-bali-arts-culture/ Floating chopin is a short film by Wregas Bhanuteja, a young filmmaker who won the Leica Ciné Discovery Award at the last Cannes Film Festival for another short film Prenjak. I had seen this film before in Jakarta, but decided to see it again, along with its other short films, at the 2016 Ubud Writers […]]]>

Floating chopin is a short film by Wregas Bhanuteja, a young filmmaker who won the Leica Ciné Discovery Award at the last Cannes Film Festival for another short film Prenjak. I had seen this film before in Jakarta, but decided to see it again, along with its other short films, at the 2016 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

The film begins with a scene inside a car on a road in rural Java. A young dating couple, speaking in colloquial Javanese, are on their way to the beach, isolated on the shores of Yogyakarta. “Why do we have to go? The girl asks. “Well,” the guy replies, “it’s much nicer than going to Bali. Bali’s beaches are crowded with tourists.

A burst of laughter erupted in the viewing room, which was a dimly lit cafe in the center of Ubud. I did not hear that kind of laughter in Jakarta. Maybe all these people were laughing at themselves, tourists who maybe flocked to the beaches of Kuta, Legian, Sanur or Nusa Dua.

The guy starts to show his girlfriend his taste for music. We hear Chopin Nocturne Opus 9 no. 2 not only as background music, but as an important part of the script. The guy turns up the volume and we are all cradled by Chopin watching the scene of a rural road in tropical Java.

The guy then tells the girl about his trip to Paris. “I’ll show you later at the beach,” he said. Then when they arrive, he opens his laptop and voila, we see a video of his trip to Paris. He doesn’t show her the Louvre, not even a photo of the Eiffel Tower, as most travelers probably would. Instead, it shows his visit to a cemetery.

The girl asks why. “The graves are all beautiful and artistic,” he says. “Look at the beautiful angel there and that wonderful statue of the deceased.” Then he shows the grave of Jim Morrison from The Doors, on which he had placed a flower in tribute to this famous rock musician. The camera moves and stops on another grave. We read the inscription on the tombstone: Fryderyk Franciscek Chopin. Now we know that Chopin

Nocturnal has significant meaning for the film and the title. Chopin, as we know, was one of the composers of the Romantic era.

The guy asks the girl to imagine what would happen if Chopin died in Bali. The girl looks puzzled, as the guy starts humming a pentatonic melody, and it was there, when I first saw her in Jakarta, that I was struck by a sense of déjà vu. . Please note, this is not a traditional Balinese song. It was written by Guruh Soekarnoputra as part of his album titled Guruh Gypsy.

Five urban children from Jakarta formed a band to play progressive rock music, heavily influenced by Genesis, and conducted an experiment, combining rock music with Balinese gamelan. It wouldn’t be too surprising nowadays in Indonesia, but it was in 1977. At a time when young urban Indonesians were frequently accused by their elders and the government of being too westernized and of not caring about religion. traditional culture. But here they were experiencing a different genre of music that had never existed before.

The guy from the movie (who also happens to be the director) starts chanting: “Yen Chopin padem ring in Bali?“What if Chopin died in Bali?” Two Balinese waiters standing near me were stunned for a moment. They listened intently to the lyrics and began to gasp silently, while the non-Balinese audience in the room, at least some of them, foreigners and Indonesians, giggled slightly as they read the subtitles. Or was I just interpreting too much?

This is how the lyrics go. “If Chopin died in Bali, his ashes would float in the Southern Ocean, gazing at the Bali soils being destroyed by outsiders. A boat capsized, caused by the wrath of the ocean gods, and Chopin still can’t believe he could be the one destroying another culture.

It was certainly a moderate criticism of the impact of tourism on Balinese culture. The song ends by saying that Chopin never actually reached Bali. He would never know that his race had taken control of Kuta. The inhabitants have forgotten the Supreme Spirit now. Chopin’s air pierces my heart, with a strong painful beat. Remember my brothers and sisters in Bali, always pay attention.

Maybe it wasn’t Wregas Bhanuteja’s intention to message Bali tourism in this movie, but I just couldn’t help but look out the window to see some coconut palms. . I remembered that there was a regulation that there should be no buildings taller than a coconut tree, to preserve the natural beauty of the island. And now?

No, I am not against modernity. Many comforts of city living are now readily available in Bali that weren’t the case in the 1970s, such as ATMs and transportation. But other changes often seem out of place, such as building modern villas on land that was once rice paddies, or building so-called minimalist hotels amid a culture that adores elaborate settings and intricate carvings. And what happened to this regulation on the ban on high-rise buildings?

The guy from the movie then asks his girlfriend to take a picture of him dressed as Chopin, with his wavy hair blown by the ocean breeze. The movie ends and I start to wonder: what if Chopin attended the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival? Just an unbridled imagination that came to my mind as I left the room.


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Bali: Art, Ritual, Performance | Asian Art Museum | Island art and all that goes with it | By David Littlejohn https://balibs.org/bali-art-ritual-performance-asian-art-museum-island-art-and-all-that-goes-with-it-by-david-littlejohn/ https://balibs.org/bali-art-ritual-performance-asian-art-museum-island-art-and-all-that-goes-with-it-by-david-littlejohn/#respond Tue, 07 Jun 2011 07:00:00 +0000 https://balibs.org/bali-art-ritual-performance-asian-art-museum-island-art-and-all-that-goes-with-it-by-david-littlejohn/ Bali, one point among the 17,500 islands of the Indonesian archipelago, has become the number one tourist destination in Asia. Almost unknown to outsiders before the 1930s, this fish-shaped island – 95 miles from nose to tail, 69 miles from belly to back – now hosts 2.5 million visitors a year who provide most of […]]]>

Bali, one point among the 17,500 islands of the Indonesian archipelago, has become the number one tourist destination in Asia. Almost unknown to outsiders before the 1930s, this fish-shaped island – 95 miles from nose to tail, 69 miles from belly to back – now hosts 2.5 million visitors a year who provide most of the income for its four millions of inhabitants.

The demon king Rawana on his mount, Wilmana.

Asian Art Museum / Connoisseur’s Council / Estate of K. Hart Smith

Bali: Art, Ritual, Performance

Asian art museum
Until September 11

Visitors come for the tropical climate, the wide white sand beaches and spectacular sunsets, the opportunities for surfing and diving, the backbone of the volcanic mountains (which send land and water in from deep ravines to picturesque plateaus of green rice fields), new seaside resorts and souvenir shops, thousands of temples, and the artistic heritage of its religious and ritual past.

This heritage includes colorful processions in which descending deities are carried into the air under tall umbrellas and curving palm trees; native dances and dramatic dances in elaborate costumes and masks, to the sound of a gamelan’s clang-bong; and intricate woodcarving, metalwork, and hand-woven fabrics.

The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco subtitles its current exhibition “art, ritual, performance”. The three are in many ways indistinguishable, the product of a unique form of Hinduism that incorporates animistic and ancient ancestor worship practices, as well as borrowings from places like Java and China. Separate gods and goddesses are to be invoked and thanked with offerings and ceremonies, sacred images, symbols and syllables for birth and childhood, marriage and death, rice crops, house building , ordination, filing of teeth, good health, good sex, etc. There are also demons and monsters to appease.

The temple ceremonies are built around these events, as well as water rites, the transport of images inhabited by gods in procession and the making of large trays or high towers of offerings to the gods. Large funeral processions inevitably end with the ritual cremation of not only the deceased, inside an animal-shaped sarcophagus, but also elaborate wooden structures erected on it. After the ceremonies, the temple offerings are either eaten or thrown away before they rot.

One of the problems with exhibiting Balinese rituals and artifacts in a museum is that many of them are temporal or ephemeral. Balinese dance and theater depend on real people performing in real time, just like the trance-inducing sound of a gamelan, which can go on for hours. The museum can show the costumes and headdresses of the dancers, large carved and painted masks, motionless shadow puppets, the richly carved and gilded drums, the bells and mellophones of a gamelan. But something important is lost.

The Asian Art Museum has done its best to bring its exhibit to life by importing more than 25 dancers, musicians and artisans from Bali, and bringing in local practitioners and experts. There will be over 60 live performances and demonstrations during the duration of the show.

Video monitors in the galleries, meanwhile, will display scenes of barong boar dancing, a cremation ceremony, street processions, shadow theaters, shirtless men singing around a fire. In a remarkable interactive video by Martin Percy, you can watch (at the museum or online) a number of different things happening at a festival last August at a three-temple complex.

Seventy-one of the 130 pieces in the exhibition come from Dutch museums, the rest from other Western collections. The nine small kingdoms into which Bali was divided were dissolved between 1882 and 1908 by the Dutch, who in the process destroyed several royal palaces. Their inhabitants sacrificed themselves or were shot. The most valuable content was shipped to the Netherlands, sold or scanned by subsequent western visitors. Most of the treasures that remain in Bali are locked within the temple grounds, with the exception of ceremonies, and never leave the island.

Woodwork and fabrics tend to rot in a tropical climate; most of the artefacts here date from 1850 to 1950, including intricately patterned symbolic hangings hand-woven with silk and metal threads. The two best wood carvings come from the collection of the Museum of Asian Art itself: a pair of brilliantly carved and painted statues of two legendary Hindu adversaries atop their gigantic winged mounts. Wisnu (aka Vishnu), the most admired Balinese deity, rides the mighty Garuda. Demon King Rawana bares his fangs and opens his eyes astride his horrible mount Wilmana.

The show’s signature image is of a 40-inch-high, wonderfully carved and unpainted palanquin, a sedan chair partially open on carrying poles, designed to carry a divinely inhabited figure aloft. during processions. There is also a richly painted palanquin with long carrying poles to carry a living royal figure, whose feet were not meant to be seen in public touching the ground.

Entire pieces of wooden buildings were salvaged from Dutch demolitions, or subsequently commissioned by the new colonial masters. These include a pair of 12-foot-high doors, freed from a palace burnt down in 1908, and the entrance porch of a temple, all carved with impressive intricacy, as well as a replica of a pavilion. cremation. The most impressive of these architectural pieces is a carved and painted lintel depicting a pair of intertwined winged lions, with bright eyes and red skin, ravaging a deer and wearing the Royal Dutch Crown. Two richly carved and gilded thrones here were rescued from the Klungkung Royal Court of Justice when the palace itself was destroyed.

Natasha Reichle, who organized the exhibition, and Deborah Clearwaters, who organized the public programs, deserve praise for this recreation of a complex culture. To see now if the Bali they present can survive the hordes of tourists.

Mr. Littlejohn writes for the Journal on West Coast Events.

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‘Bali: Art, Ritual, Performance’ at the Asian Art Museum – Review https://balibs.org/bali-art-ritual-performance-at-the-asian-art-museum-review/ https://balibs.org/bali-art-ritual-performance-at-the-asian-art-museum-review/#respond Mon, 30 May 2011 07:00:00 +0000 https://balibs.org/bali-art-ritual-performance-at-the-asian-art-museum-review/ SAN FRANCISCO – On a recent weekday afternoon with nothing special, I walked into the Asian Art Museum here and found a Balinese gamelan concert going on: thundering gongs, pulsing drums, jazzy flutes, all truly heavenly, with musicians seated cross-legged on a fabric-draped platform and an enthusiastic crowd of museum visitors, many very young, on […]]]>

SAN FRANCISCO – On a recent weekday afternoon with nothing special, I walked into the Asian Art Museum here and found a Balinese gamelan concert going on: thundering gongs, pulsing drums, jazzy flutes, all truly heavenly, with musicians seated cross-legged on a fabric-draped platform and an enthusiastic crowd of museum visitors, many very young, on benches, folding chairs and the floor.

Events like this – free, at impromptu hours, with a feel of improvisation – have popped up regularly at the museum during the tenure of its current director, Jay Xu, who arrived in 2008 and has managed to keep the venue on the right foot. way during a recent financial crisis.

Several years ago, the museum borrowed a large sum of money to renovate its premises in a redeveloped downtown library. But in the post-2008 economy, its loan repayments have become impossible to meet and rumors of possible bankruptcy have been circulating. The city stepped in to help. The disaster was averted. The doors remained open. And about a week ago that incredible music – like the sound of a thousand clocks striking – filled the air.

The concert was inspired by “Bali: Art, Ritual, Performance», The museum’s current and lively special exhibition, as stimulating to look at as it is to think. Among other things, it offers a plausible model on how to make a historical loan which a) uses unknown and affordable materials (many of the objects come from Dutch ethnographic museums); b) refines the controversial issue of authenticity by transparently linking an art past to the present of tourist art; and c) gives us exoticism but tempers it with realism.

Bali itself achieves a similar balance. Despite its paradisiacal reputation, it is a modest place: a single small island less than 100 miles in diameter among the hundreds of islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago. Yet it packs a deep and dramatic story within its narrow confines.

The island’s volcanic soil is ideal for certain types of agriculture. Rice grown in semi-aquatic rice terraces is the staple crop, and indigenous religious beliefs seem to have always centered on water and vegetation. Patterns suggesting swirling waves or interlocking spores cover a bronze drum top from the first or second century CE. And rice goddess images woven from palm fronds are still kept in shrines in farming villages. The show features three examples made between 1920 and 1950: doll-like but majestic figures with square shoulders, pinched waists, and a Turandot headgear.

Other belief systems have gradually been superimposed or integrated into the cult of nature. Veneration for deified ancestors is common, as is devotion to a pantheon of deities derived from South Asian Hinduism, a religion once ubiquitous in Indonesia but only found there in Bali.

This interweaving of spiritual commitments has produced a web of ritual practices so enveloping and intricate that they lend religious luster to virtually everything on display, from paddles of rice to dance masks to gold vessels for the betel leaf, a mild tobacco chewed stimulant that is regularly offered to party guests and gods. We are now accustomed to the idea, or should be, that art created for ritual use, like Balinese art, loses a vital part of its meaning in an institutional setting. Exhibition organizer Natasha Reichle, associate curator of Southeast Asian art at the museum, recognizes the problem posed by context, and approaches it reasonably, through wall labels, photographs. field and documentary videos.

All of this is fine, although at least a few things don’t seem to need further help. They emitted sparks no matter where they were. A small 19th century ivory sculpture of a crouching winged lion, taken from a temple offering box, is a nugget of pure, coiled energy, pulling and holding the eye like a magnet.

Some images of carved and painted wooden temples operate on an inverted and repulsive dynamic. They seem to be doing what they can to scare us away. This is what happens in a representation of the demon Ravana, arch-villain of the “Ramayana”, who sits, surly and bloody mouth, on the back of an equally enraged bird.

And who would want to approach the female deity Rangda, with her golf ball eyes, monster fangs, and limbs spread out in an obscene dance? A wall label explains that she is sometimes taken for a witch, sometimes an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga. But a glance tells you what you really need to know: You are in the dangerous presence of a life or death force on the loose.

Death and the dead play a central and complicated role in Balinese life. Extravagant material and emotional resources are invested in the well-being and appeasement of worried ancestors. No assemblage of static objects can truly capture this performance-based dynamic, but exhibition videos can and do, recording funeral ceremonies that span months, if not years, and involve burial. , the exhumation and burning of corpses, accompanied by processions and feasts.

However, large funerals are not the norm: they cost a fortune and are the privilege of the royal or the rich. Likewise, much of the art in the exhibition reflects the taste of the elite of a hierarchical society based on the four-caste system derived from India, with the first three castes controlling most of the wealth. and the lower caste, representing the bulk of the population, doing the basic work that sustains the economy: agriculture until a few decades ago, now the tourism industry.

To its credit, the show notes these social realities. The catalog in particular reminds us that at least part of what we’re looking at – earrings adorned with gemstones, for example, or a silk envelope adorned with gold leaf flowers – was intended for a clientele. very specific, namely the rulers who competitively staked kingdoms in different parts of the island.

The final section of the exhibition also discusses the impact of European colonialism on Balinese life and culture. Although most of Indonesia was under Dutch control throughout the 19th century, Bali was not fully subdued until the early 20th century, when the Dutch felt the need to consolidate their hold over the whole. of the archipelago.

To this end, between 1900 and 1910 or so, Dutch troops invaded the island on several occasions, attacking its kingdoms one by one. In at least two battles, one in 1906 and the other two years later, Balinese royalty, knowing they risked defeat, suicidally headed for European fire.

The start of the 20th century became a nadir in Bali’s fortunes: poverty and disease were rampant. Defensively, the Dutch claimed to have rid the island of despotic kings and indicated that a once flourishing local slave trade was evidence of native barbarism.

Simultaneously, the colonial government began to promote the image of Bali as a tropical Eden, where traditional arts were still produced by a picturesque population who otherwise were content to spend their time harvesting rice in pretty terraced fields.

To this day, tourist hotels are built to admire such fields, ignoring the reality that rice cultivation is backbreaking work. And while much of Bali’s traditional culture is still alive today, essential characteristics have changed, including the idea that art, as a category, is defined by spiritual utility. Many pieces of the spectacle of the first half of the 20th century were made expressly as tourist souvenirs.

Expanding Bali’s history into the 21st century would have involved investigating not only the constant incursion of world culture on the island, but also the devastating effects of religious politics when, in 2002 and again in 2005, militant Islamist groups attacked Balinese seaside resorts. .

The exhibition doesn’t go there, although it goes even further than many do in balancing romance and reality in a narrative of a culture and its art. If one result is to undermine precious illusions about a heavenly past, another is to keep glories of the past alive in the present, like the supernatural sound of Balinese chimes sparkling in an ordinary urban afternoon.


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Bali: a look at “Bali: Art, Ritual, Performance” at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco https://balibs.org/bali-a-look-at-bali-art-ritual-performance-at-the-asian-art-museum-in-san-francisco/ https://balibs.org/bali-a-look-at-bali-art-ritual-performance-at-the-asian-art-museum-in-san-francisco/#respond Sun, 22 May 2011 07:00:00 +0000 https://balibs.org/bali-a-look-at-bali-art-ritual-performance-at-the-asian-art-museum-in-san-francisco/ Report from San Francisco – – In 1930, Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias and his wife Rose traveled to the island of Bali in Indonesia and quickly fell in love with what they saw. They stayed for nine months, soaking up the natural beauty and distinct culture. Covarrubias later wrote a classic book titled “The Island […]]]>

In 1930, Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias and his wife Rose traveled to the island of Bali in Indonesia and quickly fell in love with what they saw. They stayed for nine months, soaking up the natural beauty and distinct culture. Covarrubias later wrote a classic book titled “The Island of Bali,” which somewhat eclipsed the art he made on the trip. One of these paintings is a stylized map of Bali, showing the diamond-shaped island dominated by steaming volcanoes towering over lush valleys and hills in rice terraces. Temples dot the land and in the ocean, dragons and mermaids swim as a cruise ship pulls away.

The menu – featured in an exhibit here at the Asian Art Museum titled “Bali: Art, Ritual, Performance” – aptly sums up the alluring appeal that has made the island synonymous with exoticism. Without forgetting a land of contrasts.

Bali is a Hindu enclave in the middle of the most populous Islamic country in the world. The island is lush but also densely populated, divided into rice fields clinging to the hills that make great photos but backbreaking work.

Its inhabitants are renowned for weaving artistic and spiritual practices into daily life, but the history of the island is drenched in blood, from the Dutch conquest in the early 1900s to a dirty war against suspected Communists in the 1960s. With an area of ​​only 2,000 square miles, Bali has tens of thousands of temples. The Balinese language has no word for religion – the culture is so saturated with notions of the divine that none seem necessary.

“Their lives were filled with complex and formal delights,” observed anthropologist Margaret Mead in the 1930s. “The richness and vibrancy of the island’s cultural traditions are as evident today as they were then. “, Notes museum director Jay Xu in the exhibition catalog. “Bali continues to inspire artists, performers, academics and movie stars, all drawn to a unique culture where art is an integral part of everyday life.”

The show, which runs through September 11, is the first in the United States to look at Bali’s art and culture in general. More than 130 objects – including sculptures, musical instruments and textiles – are on display. “What makes Bali really interesting is the intersection between indigenous beliefs and Hinduism,” says curator Natasha Reichle, who worked on the show for five years. “These objects are generally not put in museums. You go to a ceremony and see them in use.

The museum has scheduled 60 music, puppet and dance performances over the next few months to revive the cultural context for which many of these objects were designed. “What’s really funny is that the exhibition has such a wide range of media,” says Reichle. “It’s a really rich environment in the galleries, trying to show the breadth of culture and how these objects connect to each other.”

Bali has long been a melting pot of influences. Indian traders introduced Hinduism, which gave new names to the ancient gods of the native animists. The opening section of the show highlights the role of agricultural deities and ancestors in Balinese society. Palm leaves, for example, are folded into doll-like figurines depicting the goddess of rice and fertility Dewi Sri, to whom farmers make daily offerings.

Rice is the island’s staple food, and the tools used to harvest it feature a remarkable blend of utility and artistry. Consider, for example, two beautiful knives on display. One is an elegantly tapered staff with a floral design cut in half by an iron blade, the other a wooden carving of a rooster with the blade almost hidden underneath.

Chinese merchants left behind piles of coins with a hole in the center, which the Balinese tied together with string to create sculptures of deities. Some coin images are enhanced with faces and hands carved in wood while others are elegantly dressed in cotton and silk and sheathed in gold leaf.

For the Balinese, the gods are not distant and distant, but honored guests who are invited to inhabit statues of deities when they visit Earth. Divine objects are not static museum pieces but honored participants in rituals and processions. Some are carried in ornate gilded wooden palanquins, such as a fantastically decorated example in the exhibit that was chosen for the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, where the Dutch Pavilion of Balinese Art caused a stir.

The second section of the exhibition traces the development of court culture and the complex rituals that governed religious life. One of the most spectacular rites was cremation, which for the wealthy involved erecting a large covered platform to accommodate a sarcophagus to be burned – an example of which is on display. Nearby is an intricately drawn ritual bark cloth intended to burn with the body, which has somehow survived and offers a rare glimpse of an artistic creation designed to go up in smoke.

A painted wooden sign depicts a widow and her servants throwing themselves into a fire to join her deceased husband – a practice that persisted into the early 20th century and was one of the justifications for the overthrow of the island’s ruling families by the Dutch.

The royal Balinese penchant for ritual was taken to extremes when many rulers and their courts marched directly under gunfire from the Dutch and the survivors committed suicide rather than surrender. The Dutch then looted and burned many royal palaces, with the loot being shipped to museums in Holland.

In fact, the vast majority of the exhibits come from two Dutch museums, the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde in Leiden; Fowler of UCLA has also loaned a number of works.

Shadow theater (or wayang kulit) is one of the great Balinese art forms. Although the puppets – flat buffalo skin figures mounted on bamboo sticks – are only seen in shadows cast behind a screen, they are still beautifully painted and fully realized works of art. Accompanied by a ringing gamelan orchestra, the puppets replay scenes from Hindu epics such as the Mahabharata. Performances can last all night.

The final section of the exhibition examines the effect of foreign visitors on Balinese art before WWII. There is a large selection of designs by Covarrubias depicting the imposing cylindrical offerings that Balinese women wore on their heads; the offerings included mixtures such as flowers, rice, incense, and cooked chickens.

As Noel Coward wrote in a hotel register in the 1930s: “It seems every Balinese native / From womb to grave is creative / And although the results are quite clever / There are too many artistic effort.

calendar@latimes.com


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