The Titian Prize: Recogising Extraordinary Balinese Artistic Talent
The Bali art infrastructure is undergoing important transformation. This renewal is a timely, yet a long and unique process, the intended outcome, however, will be a sustainable art eco system on the island. The benefactors will be new buyers, seasoned collectors, art lovers, the curious, and of course the artists themselves.
The Bali art infrastructure currently comprises of galleries, museums, art spaces, artist studios, cultural centres, the traditional, and digital media, along with the art schools and institutions. Art awards and competitions are an essential, supportive part of any art infrastructure. They are renowned for discovering and showcasing noteworthy emerging artists and launching their careers. The exposure to gallerists, curators, collectors, the media and local and international audiences provides excellent networking opportunities, and makes the task of being “discovered” much easier.
The nine finalists and winner of the second annual TiTian Prize were announced in Ubud, 29 January 2018, during the second anniversary celebrations of Yayasan TiTian Bali (YTB). A new and visionary art foundation, inaugurated on the 80th anniversary of the founding of the famous Ubud based artist collective the Pitamaha, YTB is setting out to change the art landscape in Bali. TiTian, meaning bridge or “Stepping Stone” in the Balinese language, with its annual program of exhibitions, awards, workshops and book releases, is an experimental playground and launch pad. In essence it serves as an artist incubation.
“Bali has a vast cultural heritage that is at risk due to the disruptions caused by modern technological, social and cultural changes sweeping the world,” says the YTB Chairman of the Board of Advisors Soemantri Widagdo. “YTB will assist Balinese visual artists not only to navigate and survive this massive change, but to become successful art-entrepreneurs to benefit from and to be the drivers of the new opportunities of the 21st century creative economies in Bali and Indonesia.”
The TiTian Prize is awarded to the most promising artist who demonstrates talent and courage in breaking new ground in Balinese art. This year’s finalists are Gede Suryawan, Ari Winata, Ketut Suwidiarta, Kadek Yuliantono, Made Suartama, Ida Bagus Suryantara, Made Wahyu Senayadi and Wayan Eka Mahardika Suamba. The TiTian Prize winner is the exciting young painter from Batuan, Wayan Aris Sarmanta.
“Keluarga Bumi”, 2017 (Earth Family), by Sarmanta, is a wonderfully imaginative, glowing ‘family portrait’ featuring the father, mother and child set within and a fertile, utopian earth playground. Elements of Balinese traditional painting merge with modern and contemporary art genes. Striking colour contrasts are balanced with a superbly poised composition, highlighting the strong narrative taken from the Balinese Hindu philosophies. Light hearted elements add to the painting’s story making it a delight to observe.
“My painting visualises the earth family along with the abundance of nature in a harmonic, caring, and self sustaining relationship,” says Sarmanta, who was born in Batuan in 1995. And continues, “I experienced great pleasure, along with disbelief, upon being announced as this year’s winner.”
Photographs do not do “Keluarga Bumi” justice, and the painting needs to be seen in person to fully appreciate the fresh new approach that is currently elevating the most loved and critically acclaimed genre of Balinese art – Batuan painting. Inspirational and humorous, Sarmanta’s work is pulsating, and full of life.
The YTB presentation also includes the third annual “Anugrah Pusaka Seni” (Art Heritage) Award to artists and a patron who have made extraordinary contributions to Balinese Arts. The winners are A.A. Gde Meregeg (1907-2001), A.A. Gde Sobrat (1912-1992), Gusti Made Deblog (1906-1986), Dewa Nyoman Mura (1877-1950), Dewa Putu Kebes (1874-1962), and Gusti Putu Sodang (unknown – 1937). The Patron Award (Life Achievement) went to Prof. Drs. A.A Rai Kalam (1940-2017) who played a definitive role in the formation of the School of Art at ISI Denpasar.
For the first time this year YTB presented children’s prizes for age groups up to 12 years, and between 13 to 17 years of age. “The Titian Prize for children is to encourage the young generation of Balinese children to learn and continue the Balinese painting tradition,” says Widagdo. “The prizes are given for recognition, appreciation and encouragement, and consists of a certificate and art materials. In the future we plan to include a program of mentoring along with museum and studio visits.”
The 2018 TiTian Prize winner will travel to Europe to attend a Bali art exhibition in late fall this year in Leiden, the Netherlands. The exhibition will feature paintings by Sarmanta and Wayan Budiarta, also from Batuan, that have recently been acquired by the National Museum of World Cultures. The winner as well will tour major museums, art galleries and exhibitions in the Netherlands.
Sarmanta’s painting “Keluarga Bumi” is on display until the end of 2018 at TiTian Art Space, located at the end of Jalan Bisma, Ubud. Open to the public daily from 9am – 5pm, except Mondays.