Everyday Problems: Ketut Teja Astawa’s Contemporary Balinese Paintings

Ketut Teja Astawa’s bright, bold acrylic-on-canvas paintings are complex and humorous. Using traditional Balinese style, iconography, and language, Astawa reinvents the ancient wayang (or shadow puppet) tradition within a modern context. He imbues his painted narratives with references to everyday problems, such as fruit shortages, aggressive village birds, and even the 2002 Bali bombings.

While Astawa’s exaggerated figurative paintings and humorous narrative style are unique to him, the way in which he fuses the traditional with the contemporary is markedly Balinese.  In his book Balinese Art, cultural historian Adrian Vickers notes that in Bali, “tradition… does not mean an absence of change, and individual expression comes from the manipulation of pre-set forms.”[1]  It is in Astawa’s very manipulation of such pre-set, established styles and iconography that his artistic gift and interest lies. I was lucky to meet with Ketut Teja Astawa (and receive translation assistance from Sudipa Yasa) at the Tonyraka Art Gallery in Mas, Ubud.

Read the rest here at Daily Serving.

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