Ni Luh Vony has found freedom and opportunity as an artist displaying her work online; she has found a way to breakthrough without the help of the ‘conventional art world’.

The Internet is empowering people and has democratised the art world. It has created a platform that supports a new and dynamic digital art world which functions side-by-side with the art world that we already know. This conventional art world consists of galleries, art spaces, art and cultural centres, museums and institutions, along with books, newspapers and art magazines. It also includes the many participants – artists, collectors, dealers, curators, critics, writers and other aspects of the industry. 

The art world is an enormous multi-levelled, many-layered matrix of interaction. The highest level of the art world is exclusive and steeped in mystery – only the elite is allowed access and insider information. The new digital art world, however, offers immediate entry to anyone who can connect to the net, via an array of inexpensive electronic devices. One no longer needs to enter the conventional art world to exhibit, be critiqued and endorsed, and to sell your works.

Balinese creative Ni Luh Vony Dewi is one of many people that embrace the Internet.  Via social media platforms Instagram and Facebook, she presents her artworks to a global audience on her smartphone right in the palm of her hand. She may do so in her leisure; sitting on the beach, in a café or her studio. The conventional art world is hard work; struggling for acceptance, or to be invited to exhibit, the politics, tricky people and the often-exploitive demands of the commercial gallery system. Vony has experienced this, now, however, she retains her autonomy and never has to compromise. 

By creating a social media presence and regularly posting Vony has created a fan base of followers. Not only has she caught my eye with her colourful, stylised paintings, yet also the attention of others, and this has led to the sale of her works. What is it about Vony’s joyous paintings that make them irresistible and so easy on the eye?

A free spirit, Vony is securely in touch with her intuition. Self-assured in her abilities she sits in front of the canvas or pieces of cardboard, and with no preconceived ideas lets the creative forces take over, and gets in the flow. She has confidence and trusts her inner voice. The essential factor is her spontaneity – her art is not from a place of thinking and is unrestricted of socio-political opinions. There is an undeniably attractive feminine essence that enriches her paintings – a warmth that is a joy to behold – which is a reflection of her inner beauty.

Feminine beauty is very much a part of the Balinese character, and indeed Vony’s, a former model and in-demand make-up artist for fashion shoots and weddings. Her love of fashion and textiles influences her work. She is also open-minded and aware of the craft aspect of her creativity, adapting her designs upon keben, the popular traditional Balinese weaved boxes made from thin slithers of bamboo.

Born in Denpasar in 1978 Vony is self-taught, yet influenced by traditional Balinese painting. Her compositions are similar, occupying the full surface of the canvas, while all of the visual information is linear in construction. She paints directly to the canvas, however, without sketching and has an unconscious approach to structuring her compositions. The use of colour and symbols are crucial to the appeal of her works. By placing specific colours side-by-side, either lines or planes of colour, she immediately creates dynamic visual tension.

Rendering black lines next to white generate a scenario fuelled by powerful aesthetic opposites, as does the contrasting strength of green next to the red. While her use of the primary and secondary colours (red, yellow, blue, orange, green and purple) also the colours of the body’s chakra energy centres, along with white, has a distinct natural potency according to colour theory and the working order of colours upon the subconscious mind.

“People who are interested in my paintings enjoy the colours and my themes that are easy to understand. My stylised figures I construct play an important role, they are cute, light-hearted even funny. They are often symbolic, complete with spiritual meanings and healing vibes for those who are attuned.”

“The people who buy my artworks are attracted to specific visual elements, and they say my art makes them feel calm and peaceful. I love to paint angels and Hindu gods, while my themes are often about spirituality. My art is a reflection of my inner world informed by my practice of yoga and meditation,” Vony said.

“I don’t like limitations. I want to make art,” she told me with a glowing smile on her face. “I am not concerned about other people’s opinions; it’s not my responsibility to please everyone. If you want to make art do it!” One of the elements of Vony’s character I admire is her simple, yet inspiring philosophy that accompanies her Instagram profile – “make art every damn day”.

Follow Vony on Instagram : @vonydewi_niluh

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