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Paper figures perform Balinese dance theater in Ipan Lasuang’s ‘Reframing Gambuh’ exhibition

Muthi Achadiat Kautsar
Muthi Achadiat Kautsar

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sat, November 2, 2019  /  05:07 pm
Paper figures perform Balinese dance theater in Ipan Lasuang’s ‘Reframing Gambuh’ exhibition

"Harapan" (Hope), an artwork by Ipan Lasuang, showcased at the "Reframing Gambuh" exhibition at Rumah Miring by CGartspace in South Jakarta. (CGartspace/File)

Young artist Ipan Lasuang is holding a solo exhibition titled “Reframing Gambuh”, depicting gambuh dance theater from Batuan village in Sukawati district, Gianyar regency, Bali.

Taking place at Rumah Miring (Slanted House) CGartspace in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta, from Oct. 27 to Nov. 4, “Reframing Gambuh” is Ipan’s fourth solo exhibition and showcases 12 works including paintings and an installation that portrays the artist’s workshop.

Ipan, who was born in Padang, West Sumatra, and recently graduated from ISI Yogyakarta, participated in gambuh rehearsals and lived with I Wayan Bawa and his family, who are gambuh performers, as part of research for this exhibition.

Ipan Lasuang and an installation that depicts his workshop, seen at the opening of Ipan Lasuang and an installation that depicts his workshop, seen at the opening of "Reframing Gambuh" exhibition at Rumah Miring by CGartspace in South Jakarta. (JP/Muthi Kautsar)

Having immersed himself in the daily life of gambuh performers, Ipan responded by creating dancer figures, trees and other objects seen in gambuh performances, using crumpled and shaped paper. He also transferred intricate motifs and ornaments of dancers’ costumes onto the paper.

“I chose the most exciting parts of the performance, made paper models of those and then took photos of the paper models,” Ipan told The Jakarta Post at the exhibition opening on Oct. 26.

After he finished making the paper figures and objects, Ipan set them up in a studio and took photos of them, using the photographs as references for his painting.

“I am a realist painter, so I need precision of lighting, and this is best delivered by photos. Illustration could help, but I doubt it would be precise enough,” said Ipan.

As real gambuh performances are usually done by candlelight in the evening, the photo shoot took place in a studio without any lighting except for some candlelight.

Christiana Gouw, founder of Rumah Miring by CGartspace said in a statement that she was keen on showcasing Ipan’s works as the artist presents the beauty of Indonesian culture while raising concern about the danger of radicalism lurking in the archipelago. Regarding the latter, Christiana spoke of Ipan’s paintings that depict different types of trees and colors of fruit.

“As a gallerist, I always look for young talent with the potential to amplify honesty and the truth,” Christiana was quoted as saying.

Read also: Emerging Indonesian artists celebrated at Bali's contemporary art exhibition

Ipan has been exploring paper models for the past couple of years, but his latest period of paper exploration, which is the gambuh-themed works, is considered the strongest, most detailed and deepest in meaning.

Prior to coming up with the idea of exploring gambuh, Ipan attended Santorini Art Fair in Greece where he visited museums and saw how well-maintained their historical artefacts are. He became motivated to pursue a deep exploration of Indonesian culture, and decided to start with Bali, particularly gambuh dance theater, which is listed by UNESCO as an item of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Wayan Kun Adnyana who is a visual arts writer and lecturer in the postgraduate program at the Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI) Denpasar, said in a statement that Ipan had cleverly captured gambuh as an entity of performing-art aesthetics, as well as projecting the complexity of human life.

“Ipan’s strength lies in the absorption of his research, which does not overwhelm his personal artistic character. Instead, he develops what he has absorbed into a concept that goes wider and is universal,” said Adnyana.