Puri Lukisan
Neka Art M.
Agung Rai/ARMA
Rudana Museum
Duta Jasindo
Sika Contempory
Neka Gallery

Sika Contempory

The avant garde of Balinese art. The artist-run Sika Gallery in Campuan, Ubud, is probably one of the foremost galleries in Indonesia dealing with the avant garde. Condemning modem commercial art as "too sweet, like candy" artist curator I Wayan Sika and his contemporaries of the Sanggar Dewata Artist Association seek to push the visual arts envelope. "We are looking for the experimental, the new in the art world," says Sika. "We are looking for the art that is 10 years ahead of its time." Opened as a gallery for experimental artists in 1996, Sika Gallery is home to a permanent exhibit of the five core artists of the Sanggar Dewata, an artist's association started in Yogyakarta in the 70s. Special exhibits by foreign guest artists and about 100 artist members and students deemed to have that experimental, challenging quality are regularly featured as well. Although the art at the Sika gallery is in search of new modes of expression, the themes they explore are Above: Wayan Sika with one of his own works (untitied). the traditional, says Sika. You won't find portraits of pretty Balinese girls or sweeping rice paddy landscapes but you will find complex explorations of spirituality and the Hindu religion. "What we do here is not so far away from tradition," says Sika. "Most artists are still active in the community, participating at temple ceremonies and cremations. The community asks them to participate creatively in the traditional ceremonies." Sika's own large canvases are peppered with the symbols of Balinese Hinduism. Ritual is deconstructed into its abstract spiritual components of harmony, balance, good and evil. "The language of the artist may be different, but the spirit of the Balinese person is still in the art work," he says. In his works, I Made Budhiana explores the natural environment, a core of Balinese spirituality. 'Pembersihan jiwa' or 'Cleansing Spirit', part of the permanent collection, is a large abstract representing the elements of wind and rain. I Nyoman Erawan, who mesmerized the audience with his visual arts performance at last year's Arts Festival, has a display of odd shaped canvases that challenge the form of the medium itself. Also on exhibit in the gallery were paintings by lesser known artists, students in fact, who displayed a raw energy that excited Sika's artistic sensibilities. Works that probably have little commercial appeal, but which fit right into the philosophy of the gallery which is to offer a home to the experimental and the future in Balinese art. While the gallery hosts the permanent exhibit of the five core artists of the Sanggar Dewata group, it plans to have a grand exhibit every two years of its 100 members of artists from Yogyakarta, Solo, Jakarta and Bali.