Footscray Community Arts and Project 11 present Sekala Niskala (The Seen and Unseen) – a free exhibition from five contemporary Balinese artists to be held at the Roslyn Smorgon Gallery from Tuesday 18 April until Sunday 25 June. Audiences will also have the opportunity to join in the magic of Sekala Niskala through artist-led workshops on 22 April 2023.
Sekala Niskala celebrates the continuity of art styles based on Balinese Hindu belief, while pushing the boundaries of traditional Indonesian art practices.
Exhibition curator Mara Sison says the concepts of the seen and the unseen are integral to Balinese life.
“In Bali, there is a strong belief in Sekala, the ‘seen’ or tangible – what you can visibly see in the physical world, and the Niskala, the ‘unseen’ or intangible – the supernatural forces behind the Sekala,” says Mara Sison. “ For the Balinese, the seen and the unseen are inseparable, a belief strongly intertwined in their way of life.”
Sekala Niskala features works from Agus Saputra, Kuncir Sathya Viku, Ni Luh Pangestu Widya Sari, Satya Cipta and Septa Adi, who will be flown to Australia for the exhibition. The artists’ explorations in the belief of Sekala Niskala are contemporised in this thought provoking exhibition.
The exhibition’s hero image, The Garden of Edan (detail) 2023 is by artist Kuncir Sathya Viku’s whose artistic explorations grew from the street. Through his satirical manner, Kuncir transmits hybrid shamanistic visuals – merging comic impressions with Rerajahan drawings and a touch of pop surrealism.
Elements of traditional Batuan painting are imbued in works from Agus Saputra. Agus’ works focus on issues found in our social environment, and often interlink the narrative with historical events relating to Balinese art histories alongside Western references. Septa’s coloured linocuts are configured with features Kamasan painting compositions. In his own way, he expands both graphic print and Balinese painting by linking artistic structures and elements in Kamasan painting with comic books and graphic novels.
Ni Luh Pangestu Widya Sari also alludes to traditional Kamasan painting. Her explorations in printmaking go beyond the paper as she prefers to investigate relief as her visual language. She reframes the art of Wayang depicted in Kamasan painting and shadow puppetry, and reconstructs tales, religious epos and teachings. Her works convey alternate perspectives on the socio-cultural traditions in the modern-day with the intent of preserving, and at times, questioning values and norms found in societies.
The elegance of Balinese line drawings (sigar mangsi) are captured in Satya Cipta’s art practice, which is inspired by her experiences and life views, and strongly influenced by the Eastern perspective, more typically Balinese dualism.
Presented in collaboration with Project 11, the exhibition includes opportunities for audiences to join in the magic of Sekala Niskala through Line Drawing and Linocut Workshops run by the artists. Participants can learn the art of line drawing and painting using the Sigar Mangsi technique, a classical Balinese art technique of colouring images with a monochrome gradient using black ink or paint on paper. The Linocut workshop teaches basic carving and printing technique including how to hand carve a linoleum block then ink and stamp on paper.
Sekala Niskala Exhibition
Tuesday 18 April—Sunday 25 June 2023
Launch: Tuesday 18 April 2023, 6–8pm (RSVP)
Location: Footscray Community Arts’ Roslyn Smorgon Gallery
Sekala Niskala – Line Drawing and Linocut Workshops
When: 22 April 2023, 11am–2:30pm
Location: Footscray Community Arts’ ArtLife Studio