About Wayan Wangen

Wayan Wangen was born in Banjar Kawan, Mas, Ubud Bali in 1935. A master woodcarver. He has been a wood carver since the age of 10. For over 75 years he has not once stopped carving. Have carved sculptures for the foremost Wood Carving Gallery in Ubud. His present collection is a gift to behold. The years of experience and mastery evident in his pieces.

Wayan Wangen

From the age of 25years old I Wayan Wangen carved with the famous woodcarving house of Mas Ubud. Under the mentorship of famous wood carver Ida Bagus Tilem. For 25 years Wayan Wangen was a carver under Gus Tilem’s mentorship. Until he decided at 50 years of age, he wished to carve more freely at home, to create his own collection. Prior to this, all his works were sold under the Gus Tilem brand.

He worked as a carver building his own collection whilst working as a farmer. In the morning he would work the rice fields and coming home would continue to carve until late into the night. Enjoying the freedom of being able to work at his own leisure.

Recollections of a Carver

When Wayan first learned to carve, he recalls being taught how to carve masks. Traditional masks such as that of Rama and Sita. Masks were the first things taught because it is considered simple work. Until now, I Wayan Wangen enjoys masks very much. He enjoys looking at the refinement of the work, the smoothness of the surface and the curves a carver chooses to make, following the natural curves of the wood.

Lessons from a Master

Wayan was a student and carver of Ida Bagus Tilem, a famous and well renowned Wood Carver in Mas Ubud. He recalls some very important lessons that has stayed with him till now from his teacher. Ida Bagus Tilem had very high standards.

A piece may already be considered finished after weeks of work, but if the master decided it was not suitable or not to the standard he expected, he would ask his carvers to start over again. He had a good experience studying under a disciplined teacher. Setting very high standards from himself and practiced a very high level of discipline in relation to his art.

Wangen Style

I Wayan Wangen has definite influences from the style of his teacher, Ida Bagus Tilem. However he has his own particular niche. The elongated curves, following the natural curves of the wood pieces he chooses. Verging on abstraction of recognised forms, he enjoys pushing the boundaries and merging the form of the wood with the subject of his carvings.

These choices are significant and indicative of a master carver. Each piece is original and never duplicated. It is because he looks at each piece of wood and sees the story from each piece and works on an inspiration that comes to each individual work.

Wood and the Woodcarver

Each carver must have experience with many number of types of wood. However each artist will likely have a type of wood that he favours for his particular style. Not always the most popular wood, but one that he finds a good synchronicity with. I Wayan Wangen favours crocodile wood, and Suar.

He favours Crocodile Wood first and foremost because the grain is very smooth and the wood has a lovely finish. Second, Wayan favours Mahogany (Suar) a versatile medium that his prevalent in his collection. More commonly acquired than the Crocodile wood.

The Future of Traditional Carving

In the 90’s a number of factors had affected the Indonesian economy in a drastic way. Internal political instability as well as the Global Financial Crisis. During this time, it was difficult to sell art works. Whether it be paintings or carvings. the next generation of carvers who would have otherwise leraned and continued the skills of their fathers, had to look towards different career paths in order to support their young families.

As a consequence, we are now able to see a vast difference in the skills levels and mastery of the craft between these two generations. On the one hand we have an undisputed master artisan, who have honed their skills for decades. The next generation have only experienced a fraction of the discipline and the practice that their fathers had. Where will this take traditional carving in the future?

  • Sculpture @ Sawidji Gallery

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