Galung Wiratmaja (1972)


Art Exhibition at The Oberoi, Bali.
From March 05 to May 06, 2019.


Jalan Kayu Aya, Pantai Seminyak, Kuta, Bali


flyer web Galung




Among modern Balinese artists, few choose the road of realism. Is it because realism is too demanding in a society so eulogized for the beauty of its nature and people? They are indeed careful not to fall into the trap of exoticism. Most therefore opt for a semi-figurative form of representation that enables them to freely delve into one or another kind of Balinese symbolism.

Galung Wiratmaja begs to differ. A Balinese painter affiliated to the local group “Galang Kangin”, his works look at first view “realistic”, in the sense that they do not question the relevance or reality nor try to reshape its representation like do most modern and abstract Balinese artists. In other words what he paints looks like “a reality”. Yet, this reality is not that of the real world. Nor is it truly surrealistic. No, it is not an escape from the real world. It is instead a reality of his making, with its own meaning.

Which one?

Galung Wiratmaja’s works should be seen like a refusal of reality. Or rather, rather, paradoxically, a refusal of the social and cultural reality such as it is proposed to us in Bali. Look at his characters. They are depicted realistically, but they do not face us. We only see their back, as if leaving. Thus Sukarno, the first president is going away, leaving our memory, as is indeed the history of Indonesia’s struggle for independences. Angels too are showing their back and going away. Because Bali is indeed no paradise. The same can be said of women dancers. Because traditional dances are disappearing, replaced by dances specifically produced for tourists.

Galung Wiratmaja is thus inviting Balinese to tell bye-bye to mythical Bali and Indonesia and to face the true reality of the modern world. I may be the only way for the Balinese to reconcile themselves with “reality”.


Jean Couteau Ph.D


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