An excellent art exhibition is currently on display at Titik Dua Ubud, titled ‘Neopitamaha: Tradition [in] Translation’, featuring eleven Indonesian contemporary artists.
The exhibition is a significant moment for art on the island as it takes inspiration from the original Pita Maha art group of 1937. This group, guided by both Western and Balinese artists — namely Rudolf Bonnet, Walter Spies and I Gusti Nyoman Lempad — was a renaissance period for Balinese art. It saw a fusion of Western techniques with Balinese perspectives, birthing many iconic schools of painting and introduced personal artistic expression to local artists.
In the same spirit, Neopitamaha invites artists in Bali to share their personal perspectives on current socio-cultural issues in Bali, presented through the medium of contemporary art. “Neopitamaha is an attempt to translate the heritage of tradition in the present context”, says curator Asmudjo J. Irianto. What differs is that Neopitamaha is not a group, it aims to be more open and democratic, seeing itself as a movement, a medium in which different artists can share their own input in their own ways, joining the discussion. A discourse where Bali is the subject and art is the language.
Contemporary art is always eclectic, each artist presenting an incredibly individual style within this creative field. The artwork displayed at Neopitamaha is the perfect example of this, with paintings, installations and sculptures all featured in the exhibition. What is particularly interesting is to witness how each artist channels the theme of Bali differently.
Agus Saputra, for example, modernises Bali’s own Batuan style, depicting elements of contemporary life — such as technology and cryptocurrency — and adding a elements of realism to Batuan’s normally surrealist style. Through his works, ‘After Kompiang Kandel Ruka’ and ‘Optimistic’, Saputra comments on how tradition and technology can co-exist. Another Balinese artist, Kuncir Satya Viku, reimagines the Balinese Hindu rerajahan, a holy cloth imbued with powerful mantras and images said to protect or give power. His piece — described at the opening as rerajahan meets street art — a vibrant display of surreal iconography painted onto a Kamasan canvas, comments on everyday issues for Balinese society, including issues of self, family, community and society, as well as social rights and responsibilities. The ladder in which the canvas is draped doubles in meaning, as the climb for a higher-self (also in a religious context) can also lead to a falling from this higher stature.
The exhibition also features art of non-Balinese Indonesian artists, such as Devy Ferdianto, a master in printmaking from DEVFTO, provided a unique perspective as an ‘outsider’ who lives in Bali. His eye-catching print displays the iconic Frida Kahlo in traditional Balinese attire, showing the relationship between Western art with the Balinese and how they assimilate one another – a highlight outcome of Pita Maha.
The exhibition features works of art from: Agus Saputra, Devy Ferdianto, Dewa Made Johana, IB Putu Purwa, Kemalezedine, Ketut Sumad, Kuncir Sathya Viku, Mia Diwasasri, Putra Wali Aco, Wayan Mandiyasa, Wayan Upadana.
The exhibition is on display 29 January – 28 February, 2022.