Continuing on with the Studio Visits Intensive, we had a hearty lunch after the visit to Pak Erawan’s. Next on the itinerary was Otakiri Studio, that is, the studio of Made Wiguna Valasara. The studio was mostly empty because the works that Valasara had been diligently working on over the past 2 years were in Jakarta, where he recently had a solo exhibition titled Lukisan-Lukisan. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue containing an essay with the same title, Lukisan-Lukisan, by curator Agung Hujatnikajennong that I find is a really good read.
From that one single lonely painting sitting in his studio, I could see that Valasara’s artwork slips between the categories of painting and sculpture. At times though, staring at it from a distance, the strong invisible lines with its shadows bring to mind the modest art of drawing more than painting or relief sculpture.
After, we headed over to I Wayan Upadana’s place. Upadana and Valasara actually make up two-fifth of the collective G-Five.
Speaking to Upadana about Merayakan Murni, he brought up some rather tough questions that I have been grappling with myself. And it would not be the first time that those same questions came up. He asked us why Murni? Why are we celebrating Murni? And why not another or other artists? Sometimes I wonder if that is not a somewhat tricky question to answer. Is a question like that akin to asking why we love someone? Would listing down the reasons ever be enough? Will that then become an exercise in mythologising an artist?
The conversation then turned to the art ecology in Bali and the dominance of more traditional art forms such as paintings. Upadana spoke at length about the rather trying reception that G-Five received for Plastic Attack, an exhibition that opened at Tonyraka Art Gallery in October 2013. Despite being described as a landmark exhibition in the context of Balinese art, or rather because of that, it had to arduously recalibrate the preconceived notion of what art is in the minds of the audience in Bali. Agung Hujatnika’s essay above with the comment on how an artistic medium could also be ideological bears much relevance here.