The Bicycle Diaries
Paintings by Nyoman Sujana Kenyem
Komaneka Fine Art Gallery
December 18, 2011 – January 18, 2012
Open Daily 8:00 am, until 8:00 p.m.
Jalan Monkey Forest
Ubud, Gianyar, Bali
KENYEM’S BICYCLE DIARIES
by Jean Couteau
“I came upon the theme of the bicycle by mere chance,” says Kenyem with his usual smile, “by recalling my days as a student at Ubud’s junior high school. I rode my bicycle to get to school. Everything was so calm and natural. Now, things have changed. One is not secure anymore on the roads. The traffic is heavy. If some people, now, take to riding a bicycle instead of a motorbike, it is as a reaction. It is their way to protest against the changes that have taken place. It is for all these reasons that I have taken up the theme of the bicycle,” he concludes, chuckling.
What does one see in these works? Bicycles and riders set against various backgrounds of leaves and nature. Here they ride against the whirling of cosmic forces; there they pedal casually up a slope. In other works a single rider perches on the top of a man’s head or on the stretched arm or leg of a woman. But always the bicycle, and always a little rider man—who is not actually riding, but standing on his bike.
Kenyem is visibly letting himself go. He dreams, apparently aimlessly. Of the past. Of the need to move forward. Of his insignificance compared to nature. Of love. But always, in all these works—and here he rejoins the theme of his previous works—he features himself (the rider), Nature and the world. Can it be said that the underlying theme he is exploring is no different from before: the relation between microcosm and macrocosm? Perhaps, but it must be added that he presents it here in a more relaxed and spontaneous way. His approach has become non-intellectual: he talks about himself, and it is through himself that he happens to question his own position with regard to nature and the world. He is no longer making any statement about his Hindu-Balinese identity. This identity simply appears in the transparency of his dreams. Thus his expression is more natural, more from the heart.
It is only in the three-dimensional expression of his creativity—his bamboo installation— that Kenyem’s love of nature and questioning of his place in it takes the connotation of a statement. The installation consists of a triangular bamboo structure standing in the middle of the gallery’s pool. Small mirrors are stuck on its sides. The structure symbolizes the world, calling to mind the Mandara Giri
(cosmic Mountain) as it stands in the milky sea, here the pool. When we look at the mirrors, it is our own images that come back, with a haunting question: what have we done to this world?
Simple, neat, and direct: such are the works, such is the smiling man.
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