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Balinese culture, landscape highlighted at Bali Artists Camp 2016

Richard Horstman
Richard Horstman

Artivist, observes and reports on developments in the Bali and Indonesian art scenes

Ubud, Bali | Sun, May 7, 2017 | 08:47 am
Balinese culture, landscape highlighted at Bali Artists Camp 2016

'Gambelan Landscape' by Michael Downs. (JP/Richard Horstman)

Impressions of some of Bali’s most important archaeological sites, the 11th century Gunung Kawi temple in Tampaksiring, and the stone reliefs at Yeh Pulu in Bedulu, along with dramatic landscapes depictions from remote East Bali, went on display at the Bali Artists Camp 2016 Exhibition.

Open from April 8 at the Made Budhiana Gallery, Ubud, featuring more than 30 paintings, sketches, and installations by local and foreign artists, the exhibition marks the fifth year of Bali and Eastern Indonesia’s engagement with the Northern Territory of Australia.

An art and cultural engagement initiative that began in 2012, the Bali Artists Camp’s vision evolves around engagement with the landscape, nature and the rich Balinese culture. The event brings together artists from Bali and Indonesia, with their counterparts from Australia, and other foreign countries, to visit inspiring sites throughout Bali, to work on location in a visual art and cross-cultural exchange exercise.

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The fruits of the 2016 Artists’ Camp, themed engagement with monumental Bali, produced on separate occasions in May, June, July and September 2016 (collectively a period of seven weeks), will be displayed until May 22. The vibrant collection includes works by renowned Balinese artist Made Budhiana, along with Made Sudibia and Gede Gunada also from Bali, and paintings by Freddy Sitorus, born in South Sulawesi, and East Javanese painter Nanik Suryani.

'Gunung Kawi' by Nanik Suryani.(JP/Richard Horstman)

The foreign artists' contributions reflect different artistic approaches and backgrounds. Japanese artist Rie Manadala’s offerings are delicate works in ink on paper. Well-known Australian artist Michael Downs’ compositions have both surreal and abstract sensibilities, fellow countryman Ivor Cole prefers to works in oil, in his realism paintings, while Australian Mary Lou Pavlovic’s presentations are forged from an array of media, including timber and plastic, with the addition of paint and other decorative media.

'Badak Taman Ujung Karangasem' by Made Budhiana.(JP/Richard Horstman)

Ivor Cole said of his experience, “the cultural divide between the artists is quickly wiped away. There is no separation, we are here to absorb and translate the best we can through the visual image, the emotional, spiritual state of this place and this time.”

“The Northern Territory – Indonesia relationship has a long history of trade and cultural exchange,” said Michael Gunner, the chief minister of the Northern Territory, who is one of the co-sponsors of the event.

Read also: Australia-Indonesia cultural relationship: Those who shaped our critical mind

“For hundreds of years trade and cultural exchange flourished between the Macassans [people from present day Sulawesi and related islands] and aboriginals of the Northern Territory. Since the birth of the Republic of Indonesia, and the attainment of self-government for the Northern Territory in 1978, there has been an increased focus on acknowledging and strengthening our economic, cultural and social ties within the region,” Gunner adds.

“I had the honor of traveling through the lush tropical landscape with the local artists visiting spectacular temples and monuments,” Mary Lou Pavlovic said. “And I was struck by how close to nature the Balinese and Indonesian artists were, everywhere we went they knew all the fruit and medicinal herbs. I realized although I long to feel this affinity with nature, I am not from a culture that exists in the same way with nature.”

The Bali Artists’ Camp compliments the Artists’ Camp art engagement project run in alternative years by the Northern Centre For Contemporary Art (NCCA) in Darwin.

“The Artists’ Camp involves Balinese and Indonesian artists traveling to the Top End of the Northern Territory and interpreting its rugged and diverse landscape, together with an artistic and cultural interaction with Aboriginal artists,” said the founder of the Made Budhiana Gallery, Australian Colin MacDonald. 

“The camp started as a concept with the original Director of Museums and Art Galleries in the Northern Territory (MAGNT), Dr. Colin Jack Hinton back in 1978.” MacDonald, the former director and chairman of the Board of MAGNT, developed the concept further when he took Balinese artist Made Budhiana to the NT to participate in the first international Artists Camp, along with Australian and Malaysian artists in 1990.

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The vision of the ten-year program of the Artists Camp is that the chief minister of the Northern Territory, the Australian prime minister and the Indonesian president will open a touring exhibition at the Australian National Gallery that will include the first retrospective of the Australian-Indonesian artists’ engagement.

Bali Governor Made Pastika, who is also a supporter of the event, will visit the exhibition in early May to meet the artists and be presented their works.

This project has had the ongoing and enthusiastic support from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, the Australia Indonesia Institute and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, especially successive Australian Consul Generals.

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Place: Made Budhiana Gallery, Villa Pandan Harum, Jl. Anak Agung Gede Rai, Ubud, Bali

Open daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Date: Until May 22 

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Richard Horstman, a cultural observer with over 25 years’ experience in Indonesia, has supported the Bali & Indonesian art scenes for more than nine years as a journalist, writer, art tourism presenter & adviser at Cata Odata Art Space in Ubud. A bridge between the art world and the public, he’s been published in The Jakarta Post and Jakarta Globe newspapers, Art Republik, Now! Singapore, ARTI, Indo Expat, & UbudLife magazines. Visit his personal blog or Facebook.

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