Ketut Teja Astawa
In their individual explorations of alienation, angst and the meaning of life in Bali in the 21st century, the artists Ketut Teja Astawa and Em Sumba have chosen differing visual styles with similar underlying themes, resulting in a stimulating contrast of shared emotions. Although
born in the south of Bali, Astawa has superficially adopted a traditional style of Balinese painting that originated in the East Balinese village of Kamasan.
While the original Kamasan style is inspired by shadow puppets, the square headed cartoon characters that inhabitants Astawa's calendars and scenes seem more inspired by video figures making guest appearances in Balinese myths. One of his best is "Headed for the Shore" depicting scores of block heads frolicking with fish in
stylized waves and swimming towards a brick walled shore. Others, like the "Guardian of Hell", present a large monster figure with a flaming tongue igniting what is now, arguably, Bali's ultimate symbol of wealth, automobiles.Em Sumba
While Em Sumba worked for five years (1994-1999) in animation in Japan, his current work is free of traditional influence. Born in Lampung, South Sumatra, his canvasses are edgy and enigmatic. In "Art Reflection", a
simple chair casts an odd shadow on a bleak gray background. Like most of his paintings, the surfaces are covered with graffiti-like statements that do not always make sense. Other images like "Arguing", portraying a crouching
frightened figure, are full of angst and confusion. While most of Em Sumba's works are stylized, others, such as the "Swing" with a large-headed doe-eyed man caught in mid-swing in which Sumba proves his worth as a talented draughtsman.
The rambling nature in both form and content of these two contemporary artists mirror the confused times we live in. Bali, at least, has proven itself a sanctuary for artists of all races, ethnicities and religions further demonstrated by this exhibition that juxtapositions a Sumatran and Balinese.
Undoubtedly the variety of art and artists found in Bali is what makes the island's art scene so dynamic and interesting. Bali has become an artistic melting pot. But, luckily an ancient culture and people remain the foundation of this island in the sun.Post Modern Ramblings
An Exhibition of Paintings by Ketut Teja Astawa and Em Sumba
Ganesha Gallery at the Fours Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay, Bali
June 4 – 28, 2010 Open Daily
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