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(7/25/2011) Nyoman Suarnata is a well-established figure on Bali’s contemporary art scene. Born in Tampaksiring in 1981, Suarnata’s formal art education took place at Denpasar’s Institute of Fine Arts (ISI). He has participated in a number of solo and joint exhibitions in Bali at leading hotels, galleries and museums across the island.
His current exhibition “Deadline” runs from July 31, 2011 until August 28, 2011 at Adi’s Gallery in Ubud. The curator of that exhibition and gallery owner Adi Bachmann recently interviewed Suarnata:
Nyoman Saurnata – The Interview
Bachmann: Would you call yourself a messenger?
Suarnata: “Yes, because every one of my paintings includes meanings and messages; there is information about good or bad phenomena or things which occur inside of me, in my own thinking and feeling and also happen outside of me – in my environment and my social life. This, together are the stuff I like to communicate.“
Bachmann: Do you have certain reasons, to confront people with your beliefs and your way to think and to feel?
Suarnata: “No, I don’t, because I never forced people to accept or adapt what I feel and think. I only submit some topics honestly and off the cuff, and show my feelings, which come along with this. I try to express myself by talking about some existing environmental and social problems.”
Bachmann: Was there a turning point in your life, which made you choose this approach?
Suarnata: “No, because in the matter of art I have been defined - from the very beginning - by my family. However, during my own studies I started to learn about art more seriously. After I realized that I have an artistic talent, I chose to train my talent and my skills in an art institute. Although I know that is not easy to become a good artist, I feel that the world of art is my world and my way to go ahead.“
Bachmann: Is Fine Art the right medium to discuss the world’s major problems?
Suarnata: “Yes, because we can use Fine Art as a medium and send messages covering many social phenomena which happen in the world and our social life, and we also can express the own views without getting blocked by formal boundaries.”
Bachmann: There is the opinion among art critic that Fine Art should not try to teach people or to convince them of the artist’s point of view. What do you think about this?
Suarnata: “Everyone has the right to express his own opinions and point of view. However, not all opinions will become accepted by others. As an artist and with my paintings I should try to deliver messages, which everyone can read with his/her own capacity and perception, without being blocked by frameworks.”
Bachmann: Has Fine Art the power to change the public’s way of looking at things?
Suarnata: “I think it not the time, yet, because the attention, our society pays to Fine Art still is very low - not many people pay serious attentions to Fine Art. Up till now, society is not at ease with Fine Art, which demands feelings, opinions and unlimited discussions. Society expects art, which only cares about artistic problems. Some times, when people are confronted with that kind of meaningful art with its special topics and with its demands for discussions, people will immediately decide: this is bad art. Thereby, how can Fine Art alter the way the public’s way to look at phenomena while society still feels uneasy with Fine Art.”
Bachmann: Are you afraid to loose your personality and individuality if more and more people overcrowd our planet?
Suarnata: “No, because personality itself exists in every one of us, in every human being with all his excesses and disabilities. Perhaps, more and more people may progressively become alike - although it cannot be denied that in modern times, all of us start to loose solidarity because we become individualists. However, for myself I feel, that I will remain being the person I have been before. “
Bachmann: What are the elephants representing in your paintings?
Suarnata: “The idea with the elephants arose, when I watched a documentary about killing elephants – just because exploitation became normal to fulfill men’s desires. In this documentary the elephants became slaughtered and their dead bodies laid around. This view was heartbreaking. There is also a confrontation between elephants and men because men have destroyed elephant’s habitats to build up villages in this area.”
Bachmann: What do the bananas in your paintings represent?
Suarnata: “The banana is a symbol which I use of men’s genitals. In Indonesia uproar has been caused by the pros and contras about the new pornography law. It became assumed, that pornography can threaten the nation’s moral. I consider that bananas are precise objects to symbolize men’s genitals. Beside that, the form of a banana and its color are nice, and perhaps the people will think about men’s genitals spontaneously, when they see the banana with its specific form. So, in a few paintings of mine, I did use bananas as objects to focus on the pornography problem.“
Bachmann: What do the rooster heads in your paintings represent?
Suaranta: “The roosters in my painting are more about my personal experiences, when a certain phenomena hit not only Indonesia, but the whole world: people in the whole world were afraid to become poisoned by the avian flu. The rooster - with its complexity, which is so close to our human being one’s - can create remarkable fears amongst us humans.”
Bachmann: What is your biggest wish for your personal future?
Suarnata: "I wish that I become a critical artist who keeps the world’s development in mind; and perhaps I can become a successful artist in the world of Fine Arts."
Bachmann: What is your biggest wish for the global future?
Suarnata: “I wish that this universe is a good place for us, and that men start to esteem nature much more than in the past and now - for the sake of the survival of the mankind itself.”
An Exhibition of Contemporary Paintings by Nyoman Suarnata
July 31 – August 28, 2011
Jalan Bisma 102, Ubud, Bali