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Coming from a traditional Balinese background Sani has also had to contend with the voices of her peers who have a mild disapproval of her leap to the less traditional world. Jealously is easy to manifest in a traditional world but Sani tries to rise above the pettiness. Daily offerings? No need to make them herself, she can buy them, thus providing income for another woman.

While she sees that in her heart she is pure Balinese, she also sees the need to grow and deal with the emerging modern world. She juggles with the traditional demands and her foray into a more modern way of life, struggling to find the balance. It is not an easy task, although she seems to handle it with aplomb. Her talents are enormous and because she has so many things that compel her, she divides her time.

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Cute artifacts to create for exhibitions, stitching and designing clothes, running a women’s group which helps to give other young women and aspiring painters a voice, and painting her huge compelling canvasses. It’s a big job and she handles it admirably.

Visiting her house-cum-studio in Singapadu, we meet with a delightful clutter of art and domesticity. A big installation divides the space between the kitchen and studio areas. Paintings stand in piles on the walls, alongside those of her husband – also a painter, who is highly regarded in Indonesian art circles and is sure to break into a more diverse field soon. On another table sits a sewing machine and some interesting garments that she is playing with.

You can see it is the sort of home that welcomes lots of visitors and the flow of ideas.

In May she will be part of an exhibition in Singapore, a joint venture into art with a Swedish woman which will expand her horizons while giving exposure to her work.

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While I was there we talked about healing and she even offered me a session. While it seemed a big diversion from the art world, in fact the two sides sit together well…

But her quiet manner belies her work. Huge canvases the size of a small house are filled with bold figures and broad brushwork. The scope of her vision is as big as her canvasses and it is these works that I find exciting. Putting these pieces together with her humble presence requires a stretch of the imagination which is, after all, what we want in art. Her use of colour too, is exciting, if not downright thrilling and we can only hope that she will follow this great direction and not get too distracted with the pretty and the cute.

Sani’s English is not bad. She speaks well, although she speaks slowly and carefully and she is far from being a pushy person. All her energy and power comes out in her work. You can’t help but love it!

Text & Photos By Ayu Sekar

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