Words: Richard Horstman
Presenting an alternative platform for contemporary art in Bali, Kayu (‘wood’ in Bahasa Indonesia) is a series of exhibitions held at Rumah Topeng Dan Wayang Setia Dharma (House of Masks & Puppets), in Mas Ubud. While contributing to the positive development of contemporary art in Bali since 2014, Kayu has become a distinctive, and fresh feature of the local art map and calendar.
Aiming to provide a creative space for the exchange of information and knowledge between Bali and the global art world, to help stimulate awareness and practices of contemporary art-making via experimental and conceptual art events, Kayu is a part of a global art initiative by Lucie Fontaine, a self described art employer who lives and works in France, with many such programs around the world including in Milan, Stockholm, Tokyo and Bali.
Kayu – Lucie Fontaine’s branch in Indonesia, presents its fifth project Ritiro (The Retreat), a two-venue exhibition of international artists, on view at Rumah Topeng Dan Wayang (House of Masks & Puppets) in Bali and Rumah Doa Bagi Semua Bangsa (The House of Prayer for All Nations) in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia.
Featuring work by leading Indonesian artists, expatriate Bali residents and other internationals, the participants are: Jumaldi Alfi, Ashley Bickerton, Lupo Borgonovo, Marco Cassani, Patrizio Di Massimo, Fendry Ekel, Dor Guez, Agnieszka Kurant, Filippo Sciascia, Alice Tomaselli, Entang Wiharso, and Alexandra Zuckerman. The exhibition aims to put forward the identity of Kayu, showing artworks altrove (‘elsewhere’), in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, a place between magic and dream, in opposition to the traditional, often sterile, white cube gallery environment.
Ritiro takes – literally and metaphorically – the artworks away from the comfort zone of the white cube space, creating both physical and mental distance between the artworks and contemporary society. Over the duration of Ritiro the artworks will be presented in two different venues: opening from 4 to 15 December at Rumah Topeng in Ubud, and on 20 December at Rumah Doa Bagi Semua Bangsa, in Central Java.
The one-day relocation of the artworks to the Rumah Doa Bagi Semua Bangsa, conceived as a site of worship where people of all religions could pray, is a building in the shape of a gigantic dove located in a remote area of Central Java.
Rumah Topeng (House of Masks & Puppets) is an excellent location for an exhibition outside of conventions, its pavilions being traditional Javanese houses made from teak wood that perfectly coincide with the Kayu theme. The interior of the pavilion, rich in warm natural wood tones and grain, provides a setting that contrasts with and enhances the presentation of contemporary art. Traditional Javanese design elements as well, lend to the aura of Rumah Topeng making it a unique location in Bali to present art. Kayu’s series of events come as a welcome respite to the Bali art scene.
For tourists and the locals who have visited Rumah Topeng, many have strong memories of meeting an evergreen gentleman, the manager Agustinus Praynito. Pak Prayitno, as he was affectionately known, was a kindhearted man with a booming voice and smile, always with a warm greeting, laugh and a sparkle in his eye. Instrumental in the years of hard work that helped establish Rumah Topeng, the facility and its array of excellent supporting events, into a world class feature of Bali, Prayitno’s charm an inseparable highlight.
Coming as a great shock to many, tragically Pak Prayitno passed away during October. Ritiro is dedicated to the loving memory of Agustinus Prayitno 1946 – 2016 RIP.
Vernissage: 2pm, Sunday 4th December
At 3pm on Sunday 4th December, there will be an art lecture.
Ritiro continues through until December 20 in Ubud.
Rumah Topeng & Wayang Setia Darma (House of Masks & Puppets),
Banjar Tegal Bingin, Mas, Ubud, Bali
Open Daily: 9:00 am – 16:00 pm