Note From the Artist
Bali 1 March 2014
Made Gunawan

Initially I got a challenge from Mrs. Puri Hadiprana to create works with a fresh new look. When I was contemplating, traditional Balinese paintings, the Batuan style, especially in the form of trees and nature themes inspired me. I did a more in-depth exploration with my own technique and certainly did not diminish the identity of the pre-existing work.

When compared with my previous paintings, these lates paintings featured a lot more of nature and human activities. In my earlier paintings, the aspect of nature was just soft impression, for example, the bowling of the wind, where as the visual focus lies on the activities of the human being as a whole. Nature was just the supporting aspect of the theme that I presented.

The moment that I could never forget was when I was chosen to participate in the Beijing Biennale art events in 2011 and 2012 which were so special. For me, the RRC is a country with highly developed economy, including the development of modern and contemporary paintings are growing exceptionally fast. But apparently traditional Chinese paintings still exist and remain strong. That was how I came up with the idea to explore traditional Batuan paintings and synergized them with the modern painting style that I had formed over the years.

I didn’t waste my chance to appear at the Beijing Biennale. I saw the works of artists from the other countries and there were certainly interesting phenomenon in this “bamboo curtain” nation. One was the fact that the city of Beijing was dubbed as the city with 9 million bicycles. Frankly, I liked seeing people riding bicycles, pollution-free, no need to bother buying fuel and kept the body healthy. From there I had the idea of the bike theme. Another idea was from the dragon boat race which was the original culture of the Chinese. From the dragon boat event I got the idea of boat visualization which for me was interesting and rich in discourse.

Through this Tree of Life themed exhibition, I wanted to convey a value that a tree, as it grew bigger, will give more to the living beings around it. I also wanted to keep my idealism as an artist to remind each other that Indonesia is blessed with abundance of natural wealth and culture which are valuable and must be preserved. Our country is rich with verdant tree and rivers which is a mandate from God as well as an entrusted from our grandchildren to protected and preserved. One example, is that a human health clearly does not depend on us. Hopefully we could be responsible human beings by ways of protecting them.

I felt rightfully proud that my paintings were used as illustrations for the book “Power of Giving, Bring Blessings”, commemorating one year of the passing away of Mrs. Mien Soedarpo.