by Richard Horstman
In Bali over the past 80 years, the aesthetic language of local art has generally been confined to paintings on canvas and wooden sculptures defined by the market demand. This, along with the norms of Balinese culture, has placed enormously restrictions upon the development of contemporary art on the island.
“Plastic Attack,” the current exhibition at the Tony Raka Art Gallery in Ubud by the artist collective G-5, which opened on the 13th October, is both a bold and innovative move by the artists as well as the gallery. Seven untitled works are included in an aesthetic exhibition that highlights this versatile yet problematic product of our modern consumer culture.
Out front of the gallery, G-5 has constructed 5 walls of plastic bottles, two meters high set in metal frames. Various random shapes and dynamic colors of the bottle tops create wonderful aesthetic patterns, while at night electric lighting reflecting through transparent plastic textures generates enormous visual impact.
A part of the gallery is transformed into a giant “breathing” plastic bag, propelled with by an electric fan set on a timer to turn on and off, allowing the bag to expand, then deflate and expand again creating the impression of breathing.
An intriguing “work” is three cubed sections of earth, each roughly the size of a melon displayed behind glass. Random pieces of plastic have become entrapped within the layers of earth over time. The sections of earth were sourced from the local school, a nearby rice padi and from a yard.
While the Tony Raka Art Gallery is a well-known supporter of the avant-garde, this art has few commercial prospects, yet ultimately helps to consolidate it as the most relevant contemporary art gallery in Bali. Within the context of Balinese art this is a landmark exhibition.
Plastic Attack continues through to 5th November. Tony Raka Art Gallery Jalan Raya Mas 86, Mas Ubud Ph. +62 361 7816785 Open daily 10am – 5pm.