Beyond a Holiday, explores a selection of works by artist Wayan Suastama that explores the same theme during contrasting social conditions. Written by Dewi Dian Reich.

Beyond a Holiday… We are fortunate to see remarkable changes within the works of the same artist, that reveal something subtle and intriguing about changing social conditions. Revealed almost inadvertently through the subconscious responses recorded as artists go through different periods in their life. We have a window to reap something unintentionally sown. A position with the benefit of hindsight giving richness to our insights.

Wayan Suastama explored the theme of leisure and holidays during two different periods in his life. Exploring these themes was not something that he deliberated on. These were subjects and themes that naturally occurred,.. coincidentally at two very different phases of his career and in very different social and economic conditions.

Wayan Suastama Art Sawidji Gallery
Works by Wayan Suastama exploring the same themes 2010 and 2021 respectively.

We get to see interesting contrasts within a series of paintings that share the theme of ‘holiday’. One series was painted in the early years of Suastamas’ art career and the other well over 10 years later during the covid pandemic lockdown.

Wayan Suastama Art Sawidji Gallery
Holiday II

Visual Records of Changing Times

These paintings from the first collection are mainly from 2010. Employing a visual aesthetic that speaks the same language. In line, contour and compositional balance, the calm illustrative polish emits a calming, idyllic atmosphere. We get drawn into a literal narrative that brings to mind a storybook. The artist reveals a world that is balanced, with little disruptions, despite the different emotional scenarios occurring within each painting. The marks of traditional Balinese aesthetic, its linearity, use of pattern and repetition create a nostalgic postcard picture of life on the holiday island of Bali.

I worked more in commercial art back then. Whilst I was doing this commercial work, the need to paint for myself was still very strong. So these are the works I made for myself. During that period my children were small and we spent more time out on excursions with the family. Looking back at these works, really show..that there is visual storytelling like a children’s storybook.

Wayan Suastama

Beyond a Holiday, Covid Pandemic Lockdown

Then, we have a series of works exploring the same theme that was painted during the lockdown period of the Covid Pandemic. Although Wayan Suastama is known for changing visual styles and exploring a wide range of aesthetics, the contrast in style toward the same theme in two very different social conditions raises interesting observations.

Art, a Recording of Emotional History

The lines are much more emotionally charged. There is less care for structure or clear narratives that defined the first series. Here they are spontaneous, more expressive and unruly. There is most notably, a lack of traditional compositional balance. The world is just a mix of objects floating through space, ambiguous and without solid grounding. Even the central horizon and solid division of earth and sky that appears in the first series is almost completely gone in the second. Perhaps inadvertently capturing the uncertainty and sense of ennui experienced during long periods of social restrictions. Visually Expressing the effects of long-term isolation on our psychological framework.

We were afraid during the lockdown. Trying to get away from the worrying news constantly on the television, about covid. I needed to paint to escape from the stress of the negativity that was around. We needed balancing. I would go fishing, I would go to the beach and just try to carry on with a routine.

Wayan Suastama

I was grateful not to be stuck in just one place. We had a home in the village, we can go to the beach, and we can go fishing. there were many things that I found myself grateful for. It was important to make ourselves positive. To avoid the depressing news, we went back to nature,. There was much solace from nature.

Wayan Suastama

The positive thing about the pressures we experienced during covid,.. is that it did spur on many new ideas. Giving a renewed momentum and recharged  the need to keep creating our art, in a pure way.

Wayan Suastama

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