A comparison of the work of the two Balinese abstract artists, Gusti Alit Cakra and I Wayan S. Jiwatman, illustrates both the reason that so many contemporary Balinese artists are drawn to abstractionism, and how two souls can approach the same destination at the same time from different paths.
As a budding traditional artist in Pejeng village, Jiwatman was identified and sent to a high school for young artists in nearby Ubud - the self declared center of Balinese arts. Although he excelled in the more classical curriculum it was not long before he discovered abstract art, much to the dismay of his teachers. Later studies at the art academies in Denpasar, Bali and Yogyakarta would only increase his zeal without diminishing Jiwatman’s connection to other traditional Balinese arts, especially dance.
Gusti Alit Cakra did not attend local art schools but instead headed directly to the national art academy in Yogyakarta where he came under the direct influence of some of Indonesia's most talented and acclaimed abstract artists, including Nasirun and Harjiman. Although he would maintain his Balinese identity as seen by his occasional use of abstracted Balinese motifs in his paintings, he chose to settle in Yogya, the chief center of the Indonesian art scene.
Gusti Alit's paintings have been described as "architectural." Certainly close examination gives the impression that even the dripping paint seen between the sharp edged blocks are pre-meditated. In some ways we can think of his paintings as constructions with forms whose textures and scratched surfaces appear like carefully hand hewn stones fitted together. This feeling is further emphasized by a limited palette of whites, grays, blacks and browns. He will occasionally use strong color but only with circumspection and rarely more than one in any specific painting.
Jiwatman's work relies far more on bold strokes and fuzzier lines. Although some of his earlier work are monotone, he has no fear of combining strong colors and destroying firm edges and straight lines. He is also not afraid of projecting zoo and anthropomorphic images. This is seen in titles referring to animals. In addition, Jiwatman also attempts to visual abstract concepts like "Inhalation."
The works of both of these talented artists have been exhibited nationally and internationally. Notably neither has been tempted to waiver from their dedication to abstract art since their first experiments. Although abstraction might seem superficially alien to Balinese art and culture, there are numerous elements both visual and spiritual that run parallel to the concept of seeking oneself in an intangible world where forms have no connection with the state of illusion that we call life.
Two Paths, One Destination"Two Paths, One Destination"
an exhibition by Gusti Alit Cakra and I Wayan Suarjiwatman open daily at the Ganesha Gallery Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bat
January 10 – February 2, 2007.
For more information, telephone the gallery manager at ++62-(0)361-701010.
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