Uncovering Sanur’s Hidden Treasures

Uncovering Sanur's Hidden Treasures

Where to start? Sanur’s restaurants’, hotels’, and galleries’ walls are adorned with work from artists right across Bali, but where to source the locals? A Sunday morning stroll up Jl. Sekar Waru, the street where I live, provides the answer. At a busy junction, I see Warung YaYaa that has a few interesting paintings displayed haphazardly around the open terrace. I take a few tentative steps through the gate and am warmly welcomed by the irrepressible Igo Blado. Igo, a musician, entrepreneur, traveller and lover of art, manages the Fine Art 10 group of artists who reside and work in Sanur.

Seek and ye shall find!

Apel Hendrawan - Tattoist at workWithin a day I have the privilege of taking tea with Apel Hendrawan at his home studio beyond the bypass in Sanur. A few minutes after my arrival, we are joined by Made “Romi” Sukadana who roars up on a vintage BSA. Originally from Denpasar, he is now a Sanur resident and a new recruit to the Fine Art 10 group. Surrounded by Apel’s work in progress for his upcoming solo exhibition, both artists are forthcoming in their enthusiastic approach to their work. My limited Bahasa Indonesia is overcome as Igo, their effervescent manager, becomes my interpreter.

Apel’s vast canvasses depict women in various stages of trance; striking images that in some radiate a deep sense of peace while others capture the essence of a troubled dream. Studying the paintings closely, one can see that all the women in his work display intricate tattoos that run up their arms and intricately entwine their torsos. Looking at Apel and his heavily tattooed body, one can see where his inspiration lies. His mediums are canvass and skin. I took some time to visit his tattoo studio, Sanur Ink, where I watched him at work ‘inking’ an elaborate dragon design onto the arm of a Dutch tourist. Although much in demand as a tattooist, he tells me his passion is for the oils he applies to his canvasses. After studying at the Bali Art and Design School, Apel was one of the original founders of the Himpunan Pelukas Sanur (HPS), affectionately known as the Sanur Painters Community. His work is exhibited regularly in and around Sanur, as well as being shown in galleries in Ubud and Jakarta.

Made "Romi" SukadanaIn contrast, “Romi” Sukadana’s work has the appearance of Balinese cultural tradition, yet in each piece there is also a glimpse of Andy Warhol. The work revolves around classic Balinese representations such as the Rangda Dancers applied to recycled cardboard packaging. His traditional depictions sit comfortably side by side with modern iconic brands such as Bintang, CocaCola and Campbell Soup. The juxtaposition is stunning. In some, the dancers’ eyes focus on the products that hover at the edges of the painting; however there is no malice or judgement in the gaze, merely an observation. This series entitled “hidden connections” has attracted attention from major galleries from as far afield as Frankfurt, Germany.

In Sanur, to find great artists and their work, all one has to do is take a stroll around one’s neighbourhood. Visit the restaurants, the galleries, and the Warungs – it’s all there waiting for you.

Apel Hendrawan’s solo exhibition and launch of his autobiography, Resurrection, will be at the Santrian Gallery, Sanur, 24th July, 2013.

Both Made Romi Sukadana and Apel Hendrawan’s work will be on show as part of the Fine Art 10 tour, 2013 at Satu Natah Tiga Langit “Langit Gemilang” 5th July 2013 at Sangkring Art Project Jogjakarta.

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Paul V. Walters is a bestselling author of two novels, Final Diagnosis and Blowblack. He is temporarily living in Sanur while he completes the trilogy. www.paulvwalters.com