The Ultimate High Nyoman Sujana Kenyem – one of Bali emerging painters that holds a resilience of his own in dealing with the change of time. He does not inertly reside in the traditional space, but neither dose he merge himself totally into the ‘spirit of his era’. For Kenyem, creativity is not a rigid option for a complete and ultimate identity of a creation! He is flowing in the track that he tries to create which is evident in the uniqueness of his paintings.
This solo exhibition coincides with the 8th anniversary of Philo Art Space on 9th September 2013. It is such a delightful unison. To hold an exhibition is a convergent of ideas, vision, and imagination. Philo Art Space, that focuses on urban culture issues, is warmly welcomed by Kenyem, though he at first seemed to be a bit timid as he considered himself not a person that is not totally drenched in such culture.
Practically, Kenyem indeed does not touch the issues daily, but he is not that far away. As a figure that lives and was raised in Ubud – Bali, Kenyem is experiencing a unique cultural ambiance. Ubud represents a condition that is ‘everything there is’: traditional, modern, super-modern, quiet, calm, glittering, brown, yellow, white, black, et cetera. Ubud is a cultural condition that is beyond definition. In his exhibited paintings, Kenyem expresses the threshold phenomenon between the urban world icons such as building jutting at the skies and big, tall trees as icon of the ‘noble savage’ (the awe-inspiring wild cosmos), between city and village, between progression and calmness, and the likes.
The uniqueness of Kenyem icons are themselves like active figures: small flower, sun, moon, hill, mountain, street from which we can sense the presence of nature. Specifically, these icons take us to the realm of ‘subconscious’ as they are confronted with the construction of modern consciousness that is presented as order of high-rise building to illustrate the urban people superego.
In his paintings, Kenyem expresses his admiration for the urban phenomenon while also inserting subtle criticism. Kenyem aesthetic can be seen from the obsession of urban people with ‘height’ which actually is a part of life realm mystery: the moon, sun, mountain, et cetera. Such obsession is obviously the depiction of urban people ambition to flaunt ‘height’ as daily issues that may be considered as ‘the power’ to control life as a whole.
Height as obsession or superego of urban people? How can we explain this? Urban people are perhaps no longer care about origins as they can easily break a problem link as they are threatened by the complexity of such problem that appears in front of them. From tender age they are faced with a variety of properties to own, and it was not easy to own them without having to pass certain struggle.
However, height is a concept that refers to the competition to achieve ‘the ultimate high’. Modernity is triggering such competition though a narration of human history which eventually will end at the perfection point where they find ‘the absolute self’. ‘Absolute self’ may only materialize in a relation amongst other selves that form a society, whether based on location or not. City becomes a representation of social relation where their citizens come from various places and with their own hopes. And it is the place where all those hopes converge into an obsession to reach the highest place driven by superego, that we then call ‘city’ of the urban people.
Some of Kenyem’s paintings display the un-avoided urbanization: how the awe of a city with its high-rises represents a part of our own psychology that beckons us. But perhaps, it is a part of our potential self that accuses us of being an underdeveloped person unless we pursue our dream in the city.
City is made of a variety of existences that do not touch each other, as with the movement of particle without door (monad), but on the other hand, the city is presenting strong communities which to Kenyem, these communities are the place to hang hopes from the remains of the spirit of solidarity to reach the highest. Thus the spirit of solidarity that is generally considered irrelevant in urban setting as it is seen as a typical rural spirit is presented here boldly, and indeed it is worth to be noticed.
Kenyem seems to be optimistic that the glam of a city indeed offers promises that may very well channel our potentials to reach the ultimate high, but we must be also aware that, our own subconscious realm which holds the wild nature that is astonishing as well, is a condition that attaches to us and become a part of our existence, be it urban or rural people. Remember, the concrete jungle of a city is only an extension of a jungle with its trees. The most important thing is to have the self awareness that the spearing superego has the subconscious as its base. Happy exhibiting, Kenyem!
Tommy F Awuy
NYOMAN SUJANA KENYEM
Born 9 September 1972 in Sayan, Ubud, Gianyar Bali
Studied at STSI Denpasar (1998)
G13 Gallery, Kelana Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
The Bicycle Diaries, Komaneka Art Gallery, Ubud, Bali
Embracing Nature’s Poem, Ganesha Gallery, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
The Bridges of Nature, D’Peak Art Space, Singapore
Symphony of Life, Kemang Village, Jakarta
Fulmoon in Bali, Sawah Art Gallery, Singapore
Heading for the Heart’s Way, Gaya Fusion of Senses, Ubud, Bali
The Art of Nyoman Sujana ‘Kenyem’, Montiq Art Gallery, Jakarta
Dance of Life, Conrad Bali Resort & Spa, Nusa Dua, Bali
The Abstraction of Leaves, Jenggala Gallery, Jimbaran Bali
Leafscape, Danes Art Veranda, Denpasar, Bali
Moving with in the Shadow, Ganesha Gallery, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
Galeri Nakita Stockholm, Swedia
The Arts Island Festival, BatuBelah ArtSpace, Klungkung, Bali
Sprites Art Project, Kintamani, Bali
The Straight Contour, Kupu-kupu Artspace, Jimbaran Corner, Bali
MahaArt Gallery, Denpasar
Gallery 7Adam, Singapore
Bersyukur Kita Tunggal Ika, Hadiprana Gallery, Jakarta
Sudamala: An Artistic Journey, Sudakara ArtSpace, Sudamala Suies & Villas, Sanur, Bali
Artists Museum Weeks, BatuBelah Art Space, Klungkung
On Going Echoes#3, Myanmar-Indonesia Art Exchange, Cemara 6 Gallery, Jakarta
Dialogue II, Gaya Art Space, Ubud, Bali
Dialogue, G13 Gallery, Kelana Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Bertiga, Ambiente, Jakarta
Abstract Moment, Galeri Elcanna, Jakarta
On Going Echoes#2, Myanmar-Indonesia Art Exchange, Tanah Tho Gallery, Ubud, Bali
Bali Making Choices, Mondecor, Jakarta
Nusantara di Atas Kanvas, Bank Mandiri Denpasar & Jakarta
Solitude of the Earth II, Bentara Budaya Bali
MindScape, Galeri Nasional Indonesia, Jakarta
Solitude of the Earth, Bentara Budaya Yogyakarta
Beijing International Art Biennale, Beijing, China
Integritas Jiwa Tampak, Bentara Budaya Bali
On Going Echoes#1, Myanmar-Indonesia Art Exchange, New Zero Art Space, Yangon, Myanmar
Return to the Abstraction, Toniraka Art Gallery, Ubud Bali
Apa Ini Apa Itu, Djagad Art House, Lepang, Klungkung, Bali
Ar(t)iculations, Hanna Art Space, Ubud, Bali
Bentara Budaya Bali
Gallery M, Daegu, Korea
Sampoerna Strategic Square, Jakarta
Borderless World, Srisasanti Gallery, Yogyakarta
Silent Celebration, Toniraka Gallery, Ubud, Bali
Ahimsa, Bentara Budaya Jakarta
Bali Art Now, Jogja Gallery, Yogyakarta
Pada Sebuah Pesta, V-Gallery, Yogyakarta
Entitas Nurani, Art Center, Denpasar, Bali
Green, Sanur Village Festival, Denpasar, Bali
Ar[t]mosphere, Sanur Village Festival, Denpasar, Bali
Global Warming Kunstkamera, GWK, Jimbaran, Bali
Reconsculture, ARMA Museum, Ubud, Bali
Change Seasons, Komaneka Art Gallery, Ubud, Bali
Pre-Bali Biennale, Raka Gallery, Ubud, Bali
Bali Biennale, Danes Art Veranda, Denpasar, Bali
Art Singapore 2005
Tree of Life, Sembilan Gallery, Ubud, Bali
Dasa Muka, ARMA Museum, Ubud, Bali
TAI-Black, STSI Denpasar
Canna Gallery, Jakarta
Puri Lukisan Museum, Ubud, Bali
Kuta News, Titik Dua Building, Denpasar, Bali
Jenggala Ceramic, Jimbaran, Bali
Sembilan Gallery, Ubud, Bali
Bali Art Contemporary, Bentara Budaya, Jakarta
Plawa Bali Resto, Sanur
Face from the Mount, Sidik Jari Museum, Denpasar
Reflection II, Darga Gallery, Sanur, Bali
Five Painters, Ina Gallery, Jakarta
Tiga Nam Gallery, Ubud, Bali
Mandala of Life III, Purnabudaya, Yogyakarta
7 Painters Bali, Cipta II Gallery, TIM, Jakarta
Three Painters, Komaneka Gallery, Ubud, Bali
Duo Sujana, Novotel, Tanjung Benoa, Bali
Bali Hyatt, Sanur, Bali
Mandala of Life II, Art Centre, Denpasar, Bali
Abstract Festival, Duta Fine Art, Jakarta
Reflection I, Darga Gallery, Sanur, Bali
Bali Art Festival XIX, Bali Art Centre, Denpasar, Bali
Mandala of Life I, Sika Art Gallery, Ubud, Bali
Three City, Monas, Jakarta
Expo 95, Jakarta
Nyoman Gunarsa Fine Art Museum, Klungkung, Bali
TATA Ubud, Bali
Peksiminas III, Jakarta
Sidik Jari Museum, Denpasar, Bali
Bali Art Festival XVI, Bali Art Centre, Denpasar, Bali
Peksiminas II, STSI Denpasar, Bali
Art Centre, Denpasar, Bali
The Best Artwork Tugas Akhir STSI Denpasar
The Best Painting Kamasra Prize, STSI Denpasar
CITY – a representation of hard work, harsh competition, a place where human expose and exploit and being exploited – with all its potentials.
City people live in a time machine. Their movement from one point to the other is measured and defined. There are moments of stillness but alas, it is not for meditation or reflection but merely for rest.
Welcome to the Time Machine!
Sugihartono and Purwanto SPA recorded the urban people phenomenon in their own perspective on canvas, as they are indeed painters who are dealing daily with the urban time, in an exhibition titled TIME MACHINE in Philo Article Space, June 22nd to July 6th.
In essence, time machine is a part of human life. Its significance is made different by those who are bound to it and those who are not, whether consciously or not consciously. Urban people in their routine cannot betray their own being in the time machine. Work as a process is not more valuable than the end or objective. The time machine pushes and shoves people to forget their existence as life’s subject of narration who should have been able to avoid the push and look for their own meaning of being.
Time machine produces effectiveness and efficiency, by optimizing the human self apparatus: their mind and moreover, their senses. Human may be awed by their own creations of science, technology, structure of society, institution, and work system which are so transparently apparent in front of them, but they lost their ability to look inside their being. The time machine rigidly points human to the direction straight ahead with only one aim: the maximum result!
Sugihartono vividly describes how the time machine painstakingly reaches its objective in every single person of urban people. The building, road, skateboard, stilt, and everything else are just representations that can be read as sign, while it is clear that behind it, it is the time machine that enables people to be there – moving without its individual subject.
It is revealed to us clearly each day that life at its face value can be seen on the street, at work, in malls, cafés, which present people merely as moving figures. Sugihartono unmasks the exteriority and the interiority of the time machine; the urban life and the time machine itself, where people are going to and fro without regards to each others, which in itself is a repetitive problem that gives raise to the classic question: what is the meaning of life?
Time machine concludes the meaning where human is now free of its being (ontologically). Therefore the issue of human dualism of body and soul melts into the time narration that demands such work maximization! Without doubt, all Sugihartono work offer us with implication that we are now inside the mechanistic repetition of time; carried away in the time movement that spies on the direction we are heading every time we take a step. Nothing is left?
Time is the only witness that could testify that we or our live was there and it amuses us to search for the source of that life. Generally, we already understand this concept of time that we call ‘nostalgia’. It is most probable that to Sugihartono we are still in possession of such memories of the past and it raises the question of whether time machine can totally obliterate the individual person significance.
In this regards Sugihartono tickles us on the ‘modification’ modus that signify whether nostalgia is a hidden energy that would reveal itself and present us with human creativity in overtaking the mechanistic time machine? That work is purely for the sake of work without giving any new meaning to it? That human work for a reason but then abandons the reson itself because of time constraint in their work. Ironic!
Meanwhile, Purwanto SPA has the perspective on city exteriority which he sees only as the representation of the past in its semiotic nostalgia. Lest we forget that a city has its own time of abundance but that it has been uprooted from its mythical time to be replaced by time machine.
There’s sarcasm in Purwanto SPA’s point of view, in which that at its core, urban people are still pretty much mentally ‘backward’! People who initially so ready to overcome time but in the end are rendered helpless by their own apparatus failure to be ready. But city to Purwanto SPA is an aesthetic exterior due to the contrast of those very ‘slickness’ and ‘backwardness’. Moreover, city is seen as a significance of the merge of traditional icon and global capitalism icon just like wayang personage on dollar stage.
Urban people establish the kingdom of pleasure on behalf of sport, leveling down woods to make room for hitting on small balls while socializing, and yet still have the need for those science-fiction (or mythical?) amusement from crop circle to represent the unexpected stage of previous life?
Purwanto SPA’s critic stabs right at the heart of the issue of the heart of the city and the heart of the urban people are in their own ambiguity within the threshold of city-village, anxiously wishing whether in such ambiguity there is still hope of overcoming the mechanistic time machine that will enable us to party with individual creativity?
Welcome to time machine.
Tommy F Awuy
It is born out of sign. Human creations, whatever those may be, never materialized from vacuum. Arts are creations resulted from a relational connection between passion and stimulants. This connection is usually called as signifying process and this process runs at a very internal level, in the aesthetic battle of the creator.
Philo Article Space is presenting paintings and sculpture in the theme of Urban Signs. The space and time or condition that we call ‘urban’ is certainly an internal process of specific signs of all the parties involved in it, whether they are aware of it or not.
An artist has an ideal picture or concept of the art world in their mind (signified) and with all the sensory talent that they have, they capture the external signs (usually called signifier). It is this concept and the sensory talent that form the foundation of the knowledge (the signifying process) as a creation. Put simply, a creation is none other than a ‘system of signs’, not a mere idea or material.
A product, which in this context is an art work, as a ‘system of signs’ may only be understood through language. But we shall not see language in its narrow sense as a means to communicate, but to see it as a signifying (signifier – signified) process occurring in a self. To observe a creation of art is comparable to trying to read or interpreting the language of the creation, and in this effort to understand itself we are going through the signifying process, as we put meaning to the language of the creation. Our interpretation may arrive at the same meaning the creator invented, but it may as well be entirely different.
The exhibition under the theme Urban Signs is presenting the works of five artists, sculptors and painters. Painters are Priyaris Munandar, Joko ‘Gundul’ Sulistiono, Sujarwo, Deny Bojong, sculptor is Lenny Ratnasari Weichert. Each brings their own ‘language’ but all are united in their intention to convey their ‘readings’ of the phenomenon occurring in their daily life: the urban phenomenon.
The paintings of Priyaris Munandar show groups of human beings with erect objects in certain measurement. These groups do not form a random configuration, but they are in a formation that looks as if they are faced with a serious condition and that they are acutely aware of their own position. It is a realistic representation which reminds us that we are at all times in an alert-ready situation and that we may be at any times under threat. But the groups do not constantly explicitly separated, but mingle when it is obvious it is not possible to avoid it. Urban space is basically a competitive relational spirit!
The paintings of Joko ‘Gundul’ Sulistiono bring forward festivity that we often see in city murals. People are constantly moving forward, their mind focused on the way ahead, trapped in their own choices and surrounded by the products of modern technology, information, transportation, and many things. But by replacing the modern human with the archaic characters of the Punakawan, we are then perturbed by the question: are we mentally capable of dealing with such sophisticated environment?
The above question may find its answer in the creations of Sujarwo which are presenting the optimism of today and the tomorrow. Our daily life is indeed a labyrinth, we trod without the assurance of finding a way out. It is in our urban disposition to strive to move forward, even upward reaching the sky, with the ambition of building our castle in heaven just as it was in the story of the ancient Babel tower.
But this optimism does not free us from the fact that humans, no matter how hard they try, are still walking with their feet on the ground. Their wing constructions are too fragile to enable them to fly to the sky as they are not yet settled their problem with the land they step on.
Lenny’s sculptures show figures of women still having trouble with their own existence. This is a phenomenon that cannot be freed from the history of women, especially on sexual relations. The long history of sexual relations or gender discrimination has provided its shares of women’s depression in ‘women’s fate’ related to their body. It is the body of women that gives life to life, but it is also the body that has been subjected to abuse and subjugation throughout history.
In contrast, Denny Bojong presents the idea that urban space is split into the marginal and the other. And in this marginal space there are male bodies that are hopeless, feeble, resigned, and complacent for the fate that would decent to their bodies. What causes this space divide? Of what victim is this? Returning to the beginning of our curatorial, looking at the optimism that Priyaris Munandar is infusing in his works, perhaps we find the answer that no matter what, competition would not end! There are many signs that propel the competition, but it seems that the urban space is concentrated and divided by the capitalist interest, as seen by the merriment and glimmer of its content.
Tommy F. Awuy
April 27 – May 27, 2013