Traces under The Surface, A Novelty on Traditional Art

Traces under The Surface, A Novelty on Traditional Art

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The Batuan style is always dynamic. It can be hilarious yet satirical. The spirit of Ngendon, a well known Batuan artist, has had a big influence on the everlasting Batuan style.

ITS–Batuan has an important meaning on Balinese art scene. It has clear traces and a different style. Some art critics say that I Nyoman Ngendon has a strong influence on this style. Ngendon was  a senior artist as well as an art patron. He was also a great art teacher for subsequent generation.

Some senior Batuan artists frequently recount stories about Ngendon. For them, Ngendon is their great inspiration, a brave artist who always had a strong attitude and cared about Batuan art heritage. Ngendon used to create posters which raise great spirits between artists.

The spirit of Ngendon inspires the character of Batuan style. In spite of its traditional character, Batuan has its own style which is different than other traditional artists of Ubud and Kamasan. The dynamics of Batuan stems from the artists’ point of view to respond themselves, their surrounding environment and contemporary situation. The character of their artworks stems from the late Ngendon.

On their exhibition ”Traces Under the Surface” which has been held at Titian Bali, Ubud, they show their existence and artistic behavior of Batuan. This exhibition is held between 3rd of June – 31st of July 2016 and it showcases art works of Batuan artists. They are I Wayan Taweng, I Ketut Sadia, I Wayan Diana, I Made Griyawan and I Gede Widyantara.  Taweng was a student of Ngendon. He knows very well how Ngendon wanted a creative process for his students.

Ngendon’s artistic attitude has been continued by Taweng and his sons : I Ketut Sadia, I Wayan Diana and I Made Griyawan as well as his grandson, I Gede Widyantara. They hold a group exhibition. Although they are united in Batuan style, they still have their own character.

”Traces under the Surface” shows the traces of Ngendon’s spirit. Their visual progress move forward and create more contemporary issues on their subject matters. There is no painting merely about rice fields and Balinese dancers. Despite of their local subject matter and wisdom, as Taweng shows on his art works ‘The Unlucky Monkey’, the artists seem to explore more issues on their content.

The inspiration of Batuan subsequent generation stems from their surrounding reality. They They express their deeply felt concern over broken humanity and environment, wars, and greed of power. Those become their big themes of art works. They show contemporary icons and issues.

Indeed, they do not try to offer solutions. They just offer a contemplation that  life has its own problem they need to express it. Though they show satirical subject matters, they still show their beauty and wisdom. Some art works, such as ‘Late Hero’, ‘Corruptor Mas’, ‘Bali Buldozer’, remind us of how our environment and humanity have been broken.

There are two important phenomenons on the movement of recent Batuan style. First, there is an improvement of theme and another thing is the visual aspect, thanks to the new generation who has an awareness about how art—despite of its traditional art—should always improves and responds contemporary issues from which the main spirit of Ngendon.

For that reason, some of them do not create traditional subject matters anymore, such as rice fields, traditional market or ceremonies. They see different things, such as urban world and recent modern life of tourism. Though those two things seem to be in peace, they still keep their own inner conflict and problems.

More traditional artists take up some themes about tourism, social media, online information, and urban life. You can see these issues on their artworks.

Actually, their choice of themes and improvement had been shown on their former exhibitions. They showcased and expressed sources of humanity and environmental issues with their own progressive vision. They do not solely show local issues in Bali. On this exhibition, the artists move forward beyond your expectation. They contemplate the flaming political issues, threatened humanity and environment on global scale. They know that those problems occur in their epoch. They see those things happen today.

Though they are not as critical as social contemporary artists, their art works show sarcastic notions toward new values by their own symbolism. They realize that the world has changed and they are in it. They offer a novelty on their Batuan style.

Written by  I wayan Suardika

Translated by Henny Handayani


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