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Melvine Amar: A very Parisian art patron for Indonesian artists

Eric Buvelot

The Jakarta Post

Seminyak, Bali  /  Wed, October 23, 2019  /  11:59 am
Melvine Amar: A very Parisian art patron for Indonesian artists

Artistic craft: Graffiti artist Quint starts has developed into one of Bali's most renowned street artists, with his murals found the world over, from Kuta and Jakarta to Hong Kong and Paris. (Courtesy of Nyaman Gallery/-)

When it comes to trendy art galleries, we mostly have in mind places like Paris, New York or London, rather than Seminyak in Bali. However, never underestimate a passionate French woman’s ability to achieve her dreams and change this perception.

Melvine Amar opened Nyaman Gallery in Seminyak almost five years ago, and her story is so far a successful one.

She is not the first to have done so – long-timers in southern Bali recall pioneering galleries Biasa and Kendra, two foreign-led spots that paved the way for other art galleries.

However, Amar’s Nyaman Gallery managed to stand strong when others reduced the number of art events they organized.

The heiress of a family of Parisian art dealers on one side and wine dealers on the other, everything is definitely “so chic” about Amar.

She remembers learning the ropes from her aunt at Galerie Dionne in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, in the late 80s and early 90s. Her aunt was the official agent of late Argentinian painter Leonor Fini, considered one of the most important women artists of the last century, and exhibited Eduardo Arroyo, Roberto Matta, Yuri Kuper and Mimo Rotella.

Indonesian connection: Melvine Amar opened Nyaman Gallery in Seminyak almost five years ago and is currently managing 10 artists from different countries in Bali.Indonesian connection: Melvine Amar opened Nyaman Gallery in Seminyak almost five years ago and is currently managing 10 artists from different countries in Bali. (Courtesy of Nyaman Gallery/-)

Amar then moved to the rich and famous southern seaside resort of Saint-Tropez to organize regular temporary exhibitions for artists she loved.

“My taste in art is very extensive,” she said, adding that she always needed to find beauty in paintings, sculptures and photographs. “Beauty will create the emotion.”

Back then, she worked with Leonor Fini, Juan Ripollès, Francky Boy and sculptor Pira, exhibiting their works at Lavoir Vasserot, a gallery that still exists today in Saint-Tropez, a beautiful town anchored in the Mediterranean Sea. The 90s were also a time when Amar traveled and discovered Bali.

She then made the move to Seminyak with her architect husband and children in 2008. Indulging first in decorating for her husband’s many construction projects, she always kept in mind the idea of opening a gallery of her own.

Bali is an ever-stimulating place for creative people and they flock to the island from the world over, creating a peculiar atmosphere.

Amar acknowledged the potential of Bali in the contemporary art scene and started her idea of managing artists from there, which led her to open her own space in 2015.

Today, she has a team of 10 artists of diverse backgrounds and from different countries, but all with links to Indonesia. Among them are four promising Indonesian talents of whom Amar is never short of praise.

Lukman FauziLukman Fauzi (Courtesy of Nyaman Gallery/-)

Lukman Fauzi is a painter from Probolinggo, East Java. To Amar, Lukman is a philosopher. Through his paintings, he displays a sense of balance and integrity that he might have inherited from his strict education.

After working as a commissioned copyist for many years, thanks to Amar, Lukman finally jumped to personal work and bloomed into a full-fledged surrealist painter.

Artist Quint has a totally different story and artistic craft. This tall, good-looking fellow is obsessed with the female form and has stenciled relentlessly in the streets since a young age.

He started with graffiti and developed into one of Bali’s most famous street artists, with his striking murals spread from Kuta to Canggu, but also Jakarta, Hong Kong and Paris. He works on photographs of unknown girls and never uses a laser to cut his stencils.

Yoga RaharjaYoga Raharja (Courtesy of Nyaman Gallery/-)

Photographer Yoga Raharja was born and raised in Semarang, Central Java. Nicknamed a “modern traditionalist” by Amar, Yoga is an aesthete who loves capturing humans in action. He also shoots religious Balinese ceremonies with a very offbeat touch. Very fond of portraits too, he renders faultlessly the beautiful human expressions of simple people with simple lives.

Bunny BoneBunny Bone (Courtesy of Nyaman Gallery/-)

Bunny Bone has an entirely different credo. She seems to always draw the same girl’s face, more or less, using an array of different tools and techniques.

“She gets her inspiration from photographs she sees here and there, mostly of ethnic subjects. She’s a true artist at heart, through and through,” explained Amar. At 35, Bunny Bone is a rebel who just wants to be herself in Bali.

Amar’s other protégés come from places such as Australia, Spain, Russia, France and Czech Republic.

They have all helped in putting Indonesia on the map of international contemporary art – and it is reassuring to see people truly dedicated to their passion succeed with far less means.(ste)


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