In the bustling Indonesian contemporary art scene, Putu Wirantawan stands out as something of a remote visionary hermit working unperturbed, much less influenced by his contemporaries. Born in Bali's remote west in the shadow of Java's looming volcanoes separated from Bali by a narrow strait, Negara is also known for its vast nature reserve that served as the last refuge of the now extinct Balinese tiger.
Although the art and culture of Negara has never received the attention lavished on Ubud and its surrounding villages of Gianyar, Negara's artists are no less talented and, as demonstrated by the remarkable giant bamboo jegog gamelan, absolutely unique.
Identified for his remarkable talents from an early age, Putu first formal study in art was at the Denpasar branch of the Indonesian Academy of Arts (ISI), graduating in 1993. In the years that followed he won a series of awards and honors, including nomination as one of the 10 best Indonesian artists in 2000 Philip Morris Art Awards.
Over the past ten years Putu has developed a completely individual style born of an individual artistic technique. Obsessed with detail, he works with pencil on paper occasionally enhanced with a touch of color, which are then affixed to canvasses. The results are nothing more than mysterious but precise glimpses of an alternative universe. Similarly, he has experimented with unusual sizes that culminated in a much acclaimed solo exhibition (Ritual Alam Batin) featuring one painting that was 10 meters long.
In his current exhibition at the Ganesha Gallery at The Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay, the artist features two series that can be viewed as a single unit or as individual works of art. The first of these, "Connected Circles" (Dalam Lingkaran Gabung), features 12 separate images dominated by circles suspended between Hindu-Buddhist mandalas and CDs. In spite of the restrictive nature of the compositions which bind them together, every painting also manages to stand alone. The second series consists of four equal sized panels. Here the images are decidedly more architectural featuring various pyramidal shapes, some with steps.
All of these structures and the magical symbols that are suspended between them seem to vibrate and glow with power, created by Putu's time consuming use of miniscule parallel lines with gaps. While it is easy to speculate on hidden meanings and mystery, the taciturn artist refuses to deny or affirm spiritual value either by labeling his works much less talking about them. His art springs from his own imagination and he has no pretense of projecting its value on others. He does not seek to teach but to share. But, those who accept his invitation will not be disappointed.
An Exhibition by Putu Wirantawan
Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay
February 12 – March 9, 2009
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