Seni Baru: new art from Bali & Bandung – New Mandala

When people think of contemporary Indonesian art, the location that comes to mind is Yogyakarta. Home to the leading art school Institut Seni Indonesia (ISI), Jogja is famous as ‘a city of artists’. Young people from around Indonesia interested in pursuing a career as artists often find their way to Jogja. In our Indonesian exhibitions to date, 16albermarle has featured predominantly artists from Jogja.

But Indonesia has other equally fascinating art scenes. Bandung for example, is home to the another major art school Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) and many of its graduates. ITB started in the mid 1950s with an interest in new and conceptual ideas, as opposed to ISI in Jogja, which had a focus on Indonesian art and culture. For decades the two schools competed, and their different philosophies could be seen in their graduates’ work.

Maharani Mancanagara, Unjustified Justify: amicus curiae #1 (detail), 2019. Charcoal on shaped wood, dimensions variable.

This exhibition features three artists each from Bandung and Bail. From Bandung, gallerist and sculptor/painter Maharani Mancanagara presents one of her most powerful works, Unjustified Justify: amicus curiae. First exhibited in Art Bali 2019, the assemblage of painted wooden sculptures acts as a powerful indictment of the collective amnesia of the 1965-1966 genocide in Indonesia. Mancanagara solidifies the crucial necessity of a collective, public memory of crimes against humanity.

One of the most interesting young video artists in Indonesia, Eldwin Pradipta debuted as a finalist in the Young Artist Award in ArtJog 2013. With his engaging, interactive video works, Eldwin showcases his versatility as a contemporary artist.

Eldwin Pradipta, It Fits, Therefore I Sit (still), 2020. 3 x 3.5-inch LCD screens, single channel, video, acrylic, 15 x 15 x 4.5 cm.

Meicy Sitorus, who has a long commitment to uncovering truths behind her culture’s history, presents photographs recording personal experiences during Covid-19, from her ongoing series The Painter. Themes including time, memory and history are explored in photographs capturing the desolate urban cityscape where people are replaced with empty phrases and texts as the city streets become a ‘vacuumed space’.

Meicy Sitorius, Jurang, 2020. Inkjet print on Galerie Smooth Pearl paper, 90 x 90 cm.

From Bali, the exhibition features husband and wife, Agugn Prabowo and Sekarputi ‘Puti’ Sidhiawati. After study in Bandung, they relocated to Bali to take up opportunities to expand their practice. They contribute innovative print-making and ceramics respectively to the local mix.

Agugn Prabowo, Human Supremacy II, 2020. Linocut reproduction on handmade paper, 119 x 77 cm. Edition 2 of 3

Agugn incorporates printmaking techniques and psychedelic visuals to create dynamic narratives regarding the human psyche within a complex web of environments whilst Puti, inspired by the female form and identity, aims to tell stories of women’s “magic beauty and sins”. Having previously exhibited at 16albermarle, Puti brings forth a new suite of wall mounted assemblages and ceramic vessels.

Sekarputri Sidhiawati, Transitory Decision, 2022. Stoneware, underglaze, glaze, gold lustre, 25 x 18 x 10 cm.

Finally, Citra Sasmita focuses on unravelling myths and misconceptions of Balinese art and culture. Avowedly feminist, her works use an exploration of the foundational myths of Balinese society and culture to question gender constructs as well as a woman’s place within the social hierarchy.

Citra Sasmita, Rite of Passage, 2022. Acrylic on Kamasan traditional canvas, 57 x 40.5 cm.

Although access to new artworks from Indonesia has proven challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic, 16albermarle has collected a range of works from artists who have been associated with the gallery in past years. Some are key works which have not been available until now, and some are newly made for the exhibition.

Seni Baru: New Art from Bali & Bandung was curated by Mila Feng, an emerging contemporary artist from New Zealand who is now
working on the traditional land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, Sydney. As a recent graduate from Sydney College of The Arts (SCA), Mila continues her practice as both a sculptor and video artist. With an aim to create multidimensional works that engage with a wide range of audiences, she dissects complex theories within culture and philosophy. Mila is passionate about gallery spaces and is working as a curator at 16albemarle Project Space, with a focus on Southeast Asian Art.

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