I Hear You Tree, a conversation with Nyoman 'Butur' Suantara, Fine Art Photographer

I Hear You Tree, a conversation with Nyoman ‘Butur Suantara, Fine Art Photographer. Written by Dewi Dian Reich. 

The topic ‘Inauguration of Trees‘ continue this month at Sawidji. Our community are sharing their thoughts and reflections that have emerged from Delo Made Budiarta’ invitation to reflect upon trees with him.

We are living in a time when the means to fabricate, to distort or to embellish is far easier than ever before. Many forms of art is full of visual complexities. Yet, in a photograph,.. particularly a black and white photograph,.. we have this unadorned simplicity of shadow and light. Baring to us a most modest reflection of what we see. Through this simplicity perhaps, other truths are revealed.

In sitting down with Nyoman Suantara, enjoying an afternoon selecting some pieces of his Black and White Fine Art Photographs for printing. I was grateful, for the sheer enjoyment of being able to relish the beauty in photography this way with a friend.

Man Butur

There were so many images.. moments captured by the lens, that in turn captured me. Hauntingly beautiful.. images of Nature that whispers to us through time. Awakening some sleeping voice to answer back ‘yes,.. I know you’,.

Like a familiar memory.

We looked upon some landscapes in black and white. I was drawn to one particularly of a singular tree. A tree that appeared to be standing alone above the clouds. She looked graceful, ethereal and elegant. I could fancy thinking she was likely dancing in the clouds.

I wondered.. what made him take this particular photo? There were many, I could see of beautiful, poetic images of trees. Suantara’s love of Nature, on a deep and personal level reverberates through his images. Stripped away from any artifice, the purity of the Black and White medium, renders all embellishments futile. Leaving a peaceful quiet, enough quiet for us to hear the voices whispering through each image.

Feeling myself captured by the whispers of these moments I wondered what Nyoman thought of as he captured these images. What thoughts would come and pay visit in his mind as he framed these images in his viewfinder and formed the composition that would keep this moment for always. He paused and thought about it and gathered his thoughts.

I Hear You Tree

“Depending.. when I see trees I always see that they represent survival. In any kind of weather.. their strength, their fortitude.. in any condition they live.. Not only do they survive, but they do not need us the way that we need them.”

There is this basic truth that trees bring life to others. From the time they are a seed, to their stems and flowers, there is no waste.

From the beginning to the end of their life, they are givers to the world.

Nyoman ‘Butur’ Suantara

Photography is a humbling form of art. We are categorically observers of beauty and charms all outside of ourselves. Simply we are asked to be witnesses and record keepers. Perhaps though, as witnesses and record keepers.. spending time with the object of our attention we are like children in school listening to the teacher. Learning from the object of our observations. In that time sitting together, we are watching, observing.. listening to their soft voices. Perhaps simply put,. we make bonds with the object of our observations.

For a photographer, Nyoman Suantara clearly is at home in Nature. Perhaps, all this time being a witness to Nature’s secrets has formed a special friendship there. Nature must know that he sits outside in the scorching sun or in the cold, trekked countless kilometres, to get to know her, to listen to her bedtime stories and lullabies. Perhaps as a reward she shares more of herself with him. Maybe that is the wonderful beauty that I see in these images. The answering voice that whispers something back to us ‘ I know you..’ like a memory.

I Hear You Tree

A master photographer, Suantara excels in many genres of his art. His versatility is admirable. The flexible shifts from a commercial project to that of his own artistic explorations simply means we have more to enjoy. Because there is something special resonating in his captures that speak more than just of technical expertise.

This is that unquantifiable phenomena in fine art photography. Proven or not, just like a painting the artists feelings and thoughts are inseparable from their work. The same in these photographs. The artists feelings somehow are as much an imprint on each photograph as a painters brush marks a canvas.

As a dedication to our reflection this month on the Inauguration of Trees I asked Suantara what trees he held in special regard.

Usually big trees, or small trees that look very old. With big trees, they do well destroying my ego. I feel I am nothing but protected when under it. But, the Banyan tree is special. Because they don’t just live by just one root…. They can be rotten and empty in the middle yet they are still carrying on living and growing by many other limbs.. 

But each tree is different. They have their own character and speak their own language.

Nyoman Suantara

‘I Hear You Tree’, is a dedication in honour of that language. Not only are we fortunate for all the gifts Tree brings, but the imparted wisdom as well. We welcome Nyoman ‘Butur’ Suantara who joins Sawidji Gallery. And we are honoured for the opportunity to explore the beauty and love for the Art of Photography together with such a wonderful artist and friend.

7 comments

    1. Hi Mary, if you do end up painting one, even if it’s a squiggle, email or tag us somehow, I think it would be lovely to have work by someone who read this come full circle. I’d like to keep the inauguration of Trees concept going and perhaps gain momentum as more and more friends reflect on trees. 😁🙏

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