Contemporary art has been defined as art made ‘today’, art that has been and continues to be created during our lifetime. Often confronting and unusual, it can differ significantly from its older, more conventional counterpart – modern art.

Contemporary artists express their ideas through paintings, sculptures, site-specific installations, photography, video, new media and technology inspired works, art performance, environmental art and more. Contemporary art may involve alternative media and the exploration of aesthetic possibilities in the search for new visual languages. Contemporary art doesn’t need to be beautiful or even be understood.

The opening of Art Bali 2019 Specultive Memories was highlighted by a fashion parade by the Fasion Council of Western Australia (FCWA)
The opening of Art Bali 2019 Specultive Memories was highlighted by a fashion parade by
the Fasion Council of Western Australia (FCWA)

The best contemporary art raises questions and ‘speaks’ of the times we live in and encompasses the global society. It makes us reflect upon issues that concern us as individuals and communities in ways that inspire us to think and feel, and see the world afresh. Contemporary art exhibitions that present local and international artists side-by-side representing diverse points of view are increasingly vital during this era of profound change.

ART • BALI 2019: “SPECULATIVE MEMORIES” open 13 October 2019 to 13 January 2020 presents contemporary works from 32 Indonesian and overseas artists who also reside and, or work within Indonesia. Held at the AB • BC Building, Bali Collection, ITDC District, within the Nusa Dua tourism precinct, ART • BALI 2019 is the second edition of the international standard exhibition that is a much-welcomed development upon the Bali art landscape.

Organized by Heri Pemad Management of Yogyakarta, the creative team behind one of Indonesia’s most important contemporary art events, ArtJog, the AB • BC Building is a purpose-built venue funded by BEKRAF, the Agency for Creative Economy Indonesia – their goal is to provide greater opportunities for the country’s burgeoning art and creative communities to present their talent onto the global stage.

Themed SPECULATIVE MEMORIES, and curated by Rifky Effendy from Bandung and Ignatia Nilu of Yogyakarta, the invited artists have been prompted to consider past events and circumstances to tell stories through their artworks with an emphasis upon creating relevant meanings for today.  Forty-nine works, consisting of twenty-five two-dimensional works, five three-dimensional works, and nineteen installations, multimedia, video and alternative media works are displayed both inside the 1000 square meter pavilion, and in the external exhibition space.

Floating Ocean Chunk To Be Hauled Up Mountain High Desert, Forest No.1 and Flotsam Painting No.2 – 2019 – Ashley Bickerton.
Image courtesy of art Bali

“Alphapet Moles” an imposing bamboo installation by senior Balinese artist and art educator Wayan ‘Suklu’ Sujana is predominated by geometrical, structural forms and provided a perfect stage and backdrop for the opening ceremony of ART • BALI. A dynamic performance by Kita Poleng that fused Indonesian cultural dance with modern choreography was followed by a vibrant fashion parade featuring designers from Indonesia and Australia in a collaboration between ART • BALI and the Fashion Council WA (Western Australia) as a part of the recent signing of the Indonesia Australia – Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

Entry into the AB • BC Building required the audience to navigate their way through another bamboo installation, “Dari Sabang Sampai Merauke” (Weaving the Islands) by Wayan ‘Nano’ Sudarna Putra. ‘Nano’ threads strips of bamboo into individual forms set out to represent the significant islands of the Indonesian archipelago. Both installations interact wonderfully with their immediate environments while reflecting modern adaptations of an iconic and versatile cultural resource.

An audience member at Art Bali interacts with Agung ‘Agugn’ Prabowo’s installation
Image coutesy of Art Bali

One of the more interesting works on display with the pavilion is a combination of paintings with an installation “At Home in Bali” and “Somewhere Over The Rainbow 1, 2 & 3” by Canadian-based Indonesian artist Ari Bayuaji. A work for connoisseurs of Balinese art, Bayuaji refers to the master traditional architect and artist I Gusti Nyoman Lempad (~1865 – 1978). He contrasts his installation of found objects to represent everyday items within the Balinese household, with three paintings that are reinterpretations of Lempad’s works. The artist, however, challenges us to reflect upon Lempad’s signature painting/drawing style with compositions that are aesthetic and technical opposites.

Interactive artworks are the future of contemporary art; they combine technology with creative ideas to generate engaging art experiences that take us beyond the static and conventional relationships that predominate the presentation of art. Bali based Bandung artist Agung ‘Agugn’ Prabowo reminds us that art can also be playful through his interactive multi-coloured room installation “AGKIYA SMARA – Digital Memory,” 2019. ‘Agugn’ invites the audience to ‘perform’ in front of a camera, and their animated image transforms into a simulation of a skeletal figure displayed upon a digital screen. Individuals are captivated and have an opportunity to become the ‘star’ of his installation.

Balinese artist Made Palguna is known for his signature paintings that depict people engaging with many facets of life, both reflective and otherwise. His installation “GOD is Above”, 2019 is set within a pitch black room, its structure is a tall Balinese shrine highlighted by intermittently glowing LED neon lights. A sensor activates the lights that fade and change colour, then leave the audience within complete darkness. Palguna prompts us to find our source of light and pathway to spirit, and to close our eyes and journey within.


Continues through until 13 January 2020
AB – BC Building, Bali Collection, ITDC District Nusa Dua, Bali

Richard Horstman

Richard Horstman

NOW! Bali Art Columnist, Richard Horstman. For over fifteen years Richard has been contributing to national and regional newspapers and magazines writing about art and culture. He is passionate about observing and reporting on developments in the local art and creative infrastructure, and the exciting emerging talent that is flourishing in Bali. IG: @lifeasartasia