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Bali Inspires II

The seeds of inspiration that were sown by these Balinese art pioneers have become the Balinese art of today. The curatorial for Bali Inspires in this catalogue is different to customary curatorial writing. In this case, the analytical content, which in Balinese art circles normally concentrates on delivering information concerning trends, schools of art, techniques used by the artist and geographical location, only makes up half of the curatorial work. This particular art event also includes an exhibition that has been designed to compliment the other content; the event focuses on the effort to provide more personal and humane exposure of artistic creations inspired by Bali. It is intended to allow Art lovers the opportunity to observe Bali over the course of the history of its art, portrayed by the works that are being exhibited. It also wishes to allow for more intimate insight into the personal and spiritual impetus, the social issues and religious beliefs that have enriched Balinese art.
This particular curatorial approach is motivated by the very goal of Bali Inspires. More than a simple display of art works (paintings and installations, as well as carvings and other three dimensional works), Bali Inspires seeks to reinstate the source of creation and imagery in Balinese art in its physical origins –which is Bali. Bali that is endowed with natural beauty, the island that exudes physical emotions as well as the splendor of the invisible world, whose creative power rises to the highest peaks of imagination and delves into the heart, activating the mind and the hands of the artists who articulate it through inspired works of art.
A brief glimpse into the fruition of the arts in Bali allows us to apprehend the vibrancy of its personal dynamic. The slightest object bears the signature of this art, beginning with instruments for religious ceremonies, to art forms with secular themes such as agrarian and maritime life. Although is possible to trace the initial appearance of secular themes in Bali’s art to the time when Balinese artists were first exposed to visiting artists from the Western world and other islands in Indonesia, it is important to emphasize the fact that these works of art were, and still are, inspired by Bali. Bali is always generous: it always gives something to somebody. This amazing source of inspiration, of giving, has continuously poured riches into the world’s reserves of Art, of encouragement, of making the positive possible, of keeping in Touch, going beyond.
Upon entering the 21st century and leaving behind the different periods of creativity of the 20th century along with their genres, Balinese artists will be obliged to make a stand in the face of major changes in times. It would seem that modern artists, who are among the vanguard facing the challenges of the 21st century, are already beginning to question, or at least reflect on their identity as creative beings. Will they be able to respond to the changes in this era that is moving towards globalization, without losing the very nature of their art? Does Balinese Art have the resilience to retain its aesthetics and values in life, its beliefs and all the elements that tie it to Bali? Globalization is marked by shrinking geographical delineations as a result of expanding tourism and the influence of digital technology; this is transforming a collective agrarian culture into one that is informatively individualistic, to say nothing of the sway of an industrial environment with its factories and machinations of capitalism that enforce adaptation to this new culture. Thus there are many issues to be discussed, to be mapped out and finally, to be responded to, in the event that this issue should be deemed important and a necessary concern.
The role of Art which stimulates and boosts the economy will obviously no longer be the main thrust of movement in Balinese Art, at least not in quantitative terms. There is a question that arises regarding the role of art in the evolution of Bali’s social structure: what is the actual function of art in this new way of life that is in full shift? Has it changed? Will it change?
There are other conceptual issues, aside from art as an economic impetus that those involved in art (thinkers and creators) could bring up regarding Balinese art. We have 4 already seen that in its early stages in Bali, art held a significant role in its social and religious life. In a collective society, art can contribute significant benefits to social development. Due to psychological impact, cutting across the different periods, styles and techniques in the history of Balinese art, artistic inspiration in Bali is seen to have transmitted a sense of beauty and peace through this visual medium.
This time round, participants of Bali Inspires come from a diversity of backgrounds and places, using different artistic avenues and themes. These works of art have been chosen to reflect the diversity of art over the past decades, and some also vary greatly in line with recent developments. Since the theme of this exhibition is Bali Inspires or Inspiration from Bali, the artistic spectrum is intended to embrace works of art that have been inspired by Bali, by its natural environment, its inhabitants, and there are also other elements that can perhaps only be expressed conceptually, works having an abstract or impressionistic nature, etc. Based on the understanding that inspiration is not limited to any specific point in time, the creative works that have been chosen for this exhibition are not bound by any time frame. Since inspiration also has an objective intention, Bali Inspires has tried to include works from both academic and non-academic circles, different ethnic backgrounds and age groups. In this way, the gamut of artistic works inspired by Bali includes traditional, modern and contemporary art. Not all the works that are being celebrated in this exhibition have been chosen from the collection at the Rudana Museum. Many are being shown by invitation, selected by the Rudana’s curatorial team.
Inspiration comes from the sky; it descends, dives down and penetrates the soul that is receptive, regardless of origin, nationality, ideology or belief. Bali’s art heroes and heroines were called to reveal Bali through ideal visual means.
In his twilight hours, a man named Arie Smit, an artist who many years ago had chosen to discard all attributes of nationalism and to embrace true beauty in Bali instead, instilled 5 with the spirit of art that is the splendor that conveys love of peace and peacefulness, expressed it this way: “I love Bali. Everything in my art has been inspired by this island. For this reason, I dedicate my art to Bali in return.” Could it be that Arie Smit, reclining in solitude yet unbeaten by age, who has never stopped creating the beauty of Bali... could it be that he is willing us, those who were born here or who stand its soil, to recognize the heavy task that we carry, which is to protect and to defend Bali. Will Bali still invest us with its inspiration through works of art? Enlighten our minds so that we may take a closer look at the degradation of nature, the creation of uncontrolled garbage that is systematically polluting the whole island along with all the disorderly haphazard building; inspire us to take a square look at the threat to Bali’s environment?
For over centuries Bali has been continuously milked for inspiration, its natural world has been appropriated and made a commodity, its art has been exchanged at nominal and monetary rates; has Bali come to an end? In all evidence, the pliancy that is the life of Balinese art and its culture, and that keeps the Balinese community alive, still holds. It is this art and this culture that is its last defense. There is no need for a sequel to Eat, Pray and Love, no need for Eat, pay and Leave. However, Bali does need to make a stand in the face of ever changing times; at very least, it needs to position itself in a way that will allow it to preserve and to continue cultivating this art and this culture.
A man by name of Damien Hirst, a contemporary English artist whose works reap millions of dollars at Christies auctions and elsewhere, is in need of Bali to create his works of art. A contemporary world famous American cartoonist, Matt Groening, whose works include The Simpsons (that has kept people glued to the television practically worldwide) has made Bali one of his tourist destinations, a place where he can create sketches besieged by the sound of barking dogs and crowing cocks, and the notes of the gamelan, his choice of music above all other music to be heard in the world. There are also many other famous contemporary artists who hold Bali as a source of inspiration, following centuries of classical world artists who have been overcome by Bali’s exoticism and inspiration.
Inspiration comes from the skies, transmitted through different mediums: nature and its components, human beings with all their activities. May this exhibition, Bali Inspires, serve as the impetus to reflect on our circumstances in Bali, on our rights and our responsibilities. May Bali be blessed with inspiration that illuminates us all through its beauty and humanity. It is through the inspiration of its artists and inhabitants that Bali welcomes its visitors, invites them to come and to remain in peace. May this island of Bali be blessed by peace, and so also Indonesia and the whole world; this is the innermost prayer that moves Rudana’s president, Putu Supadma Rudana. For us, as for him:
Bali is Beautiful, Amazing, Loving Indonesia.

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