COLLECTOR’S EXHIBITION OF INDONESIAN WORKS Aug 14 – 28 2008
Ketut Sudra gave a sigh of relief. After months of preparation, everything was finally ready for the big day.
“I had no idea organizing a painting exhibition was such a tiring, time-consuming process that involved so many details,” he said Wednesday.
Sudra had never organized a painting exhibition before. A native of Lodtunduh, Ubud, the 37-year-old is more familiar with the intricate process of shipping and exporting silver and gold jewelry to foreign countries.
His company is one of the island’s largest manufacturers of jewelry that caters exclusively for foreign markets.
Collection started 2005
Sudra’s introduction to the realm of fine arts took place three years ago when he started collecting paintings.
“The terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2005 didn’t affect my business because I didn’t sell my products on the domestic market,” he said.
Yet, Sudra witnessed firsthand how the attacks adversely affected the lives of so many artists, including painters, who reside on the island.
“That’s when I decided to start collecting paintings. I love paintings, that’s reason number one. Reason number two; by buying their paintings I could help the painters live through the difficult period following the attacks,” he said.
Three years and hundreds of millions of rupiah later, Sudra is now the proud collector of as many as 400 paintings. His collection represents the diversity of Balinese paintings’ styles, periods and artists.
Sharing the collection
After building such a fine and large collection of paintings, Sudra began thinking about how to share his collection with fellow art lovers in Indonesia.
“I also want to open new markets for the Balinese painters.”
An opportunity to do just so knocked on Sudra’s door a few months ago. The Sultan Hotel, a five-star establishment in Jakarta’s so-called “golden triangle” business district, would celebrate its second anniversary in August, and its management was keen on having an exhibition of Balinese paintings to mark the occasion.
One hundred works selected
In cooperation with the hotel and Heanly + Fairdy In House Fine Art Gallery, Sudra started preparing for the exhibition. He carefully selected 100 paintings from his private collection; the works of around 30 artists.
“The pieces were selected to reflect the rich landscape of Bali’s fine art realm,” Sudra said.
The selected works, he added, were a combination of traditional and contemporary works, realism and impressionism pieces; representing the established as well as the lesser-known artists.
Artists in show
For instance, one of the selected works is a painting titled Traditional Market by the maestro of Batuan-style paintings, I Wayan Bendi.
Born in Batuan village in 1950, I Wayan Bendi is known for his cunning ability to include elements of modern life — from battered tourist buses to tourists wielding cameras with long telephoto lenses — onto his canvases, which are often over-crowded with scenes of traditional Balinese daily life.
This ability has made his works a favorite subject for art critics and art collectors. To some extent, Bendi’s works could also be treated as a series of visual records on the actual trials and tribulations experienced by the island of Bali and its people.
Pieces by other popular and established painters featured in the exhibit include Dewa Nyoman Batuan, Dewa Putu Mokoh and I Nyoman Ridi.
The exhibit will also present the works of lesser-known artists; one is Soeharko, who passed away in March.
Born in 1932 in Solo, Central Java, Soeharko was an officer at the Indonesian Army before finding his true calling as a painter. In 1962, he studied under Dullah, one of the most celebrated maestros of Indonesia’s fine arts world.
“Soeharko is arguably one of the most underrated painters in contemporary Indonesia,” Sudra said.
Soeharko’s object of esthetic, colorful flowers and his visual genres of realism and naturalism have distanced him from the current fine arts’ spotlight, which continues to shine on painters who use abstract or symbolic visual expressions.
“His works have enriched the private collections of many prominent figures, including former U.S. president Ronald Reagan.”
Sudra hoped the exhibition at the Sultan Hotel would give lesser-known artists the opportunity to be exposed to a wider audience and receive the attention they rightly deserved.
Theme ‘Global Warming’
The exhibition, which will run from Aug. 14 until Aug. 28, will feature “global warming” as its main theme.
“Global warming is undoubtedly one of the most important problems of the contemporary world. Global warming defies all of the world’s traditional boundaries, including geographical, racial, gender and religious boundaries. Global warming has bound the whole human race with a universal rope of fear and anxiety,” Sudra said.
Moreover, he pointed out, the magnitude of disasters that global warming could give birth to in the future would not only threaten the integrity of our natural ecosystem, but also the very fate of the human race itself.
“It means global warming has not only posed a grave danger to the artists’ primary sources of inspiration — the beauty of nature and the splendor of culture — but also to the lives of the artists themselves as members of the human race.”
Source: Jakarta Post
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- more stories about Indonesian artists
- original story in Jakarta Post
- Wikipedia overview of Balinese art
- Books on Indonesian art from Artradar Amazon store