Sanur A(r)tmosphere: Sanur, Bali

Sanur A(r)tmosphere“, a fine arts exhibition featuring selected works by some of the island’s top artists, has been organized as fitting prelude to the annual Sanur Village Festival (SVF).

“The exhibition aims to celebrate the contributions made by Sanur’s artists to the overall development of fine arts in Bali,” Ida Bagus Gede Sidharta Putra said.

Sidharta is one of the driving forces behind the SVF and the owner of Griya Santrian gallery, one of six galleries participating in the exhibition.

The others are Guet, Rare Angon, Ten Fine Arts, Darga and Danes Art Veranda. All but Danes Art Veranda are located in this tranquil beachside resort.

“The artists are either natives of Sanur or they have lived in the area and were inspired by Sanur or provided an inspiration for the esthetic progress of young painters and sculptors in this area,” he said.

The exhibition will run until Sept. 5, featuring more than 120 works by 18 painters and seven sculptors.

All of the works were selected by two prominent art critics, Jean Couteau and Arief B Prasetyo.

Couteau said Sanur was an important center of the island’s great art renewal in the 1930s, especially in the field of fine arts.

“Of course, Sanur hosted neither Walter Spies nor Rudolf Bonnet, the two foreign artists whose involvement with the Ubud painters, especially with regard to technique, was the origin of this renewal movement. But precisely because it did not have foreign artists as mentors, the Sanur School of the 1930s, when it took off, was more spontaneous in expression and freer in its themes,” he said.

The outstanding master of this school was undoubtedly Ida Bagus Nyoman Rai, but numerous other artists also rose to prominence.

“Some of their descendants are still active painters today. After studies in Yogyakarta or at the local Denpasar art school, others have become successful modern painters and sculptors, usually by giving a modern form to traditional Balinese symbols,” he said.

Other famous artists whose works are on display are Arie Smit, Gusti Made Deblog, and Misran DS.

“The displayed works are all exceptional. They belong to private collectors and have been loaned to us specifically for the exhibition,” Sidharta said.

Yet, the charm of the exhibition is obviously the excellent paintings and sculptures created by artists whose names are not well known to the general public, such as the late I Ketut Regig, Ida Bagus Putu Mendra, Ida Bagus Alit Pidada and Ida Bagus Wayan Cakra.

Regig created paintings with unique style and humorous themes of dancing grasshoppers and frogs preparing for Hindu rituals.

Ida Bagus Alit Pidada carved what is probably the most serene-looking wooden statue of Buddha on the island.

Their works are a clear testament that Sanur is much more than just a beachside resort.

A traditional bastion for the influential Brahmin family of south Bali, it is rich in spiritual tradition and historical heritage. It is also an esthetic melting pot, where Balinese and non-Balinese artists, such as the Belgian Le Mayeur, have found the creative energy and inspiration to create numerous masterpieces.

“That fact is in tune with the main theme of this year’s SVF, which is ‘The New Spirit of Heritage‘. Hopefully, the exhibition will inspire our young artists to pursue higher, better esthetic achievements,” Sidharta said.

The five-day Sanur Village Festival officially opened Wednesday.

I Wayan Juniartha