“Legacy 2″ pays tribute to the Masters of Balinese modernist woodcarving: I.B Nyana, Tjokot and I.B Tilem. Most of the carvers from this exhibition were Tilem’s students or have been strongly influenced by his works.
Ida Bagus Nyana was primarily concerned with experimenting with mass in sculpture. When carving human characters, he shortened some parts of the body and lengthened others, thus bringing an eerie, almost surrealistic quality to his work. At the same time he didn’t overwork the wood and stuck to simple, almost naïve daily life themes. He thus avoided the “baroque” trap, unlike many carvers of his day.
Cokot gained a reputation for exploiting the expressive quality inherent in the wood. He would go into the forest to look for strangely shaped trunks and branches and, changing them as little as possible, transform them into gnarled spooks and demonic figures.
Ida Bagus Tilem, the son of Nyana, furthered Nyana and Cokot’s innovations both in his working of the wood and in his choice of themes. Unlike the sculptors from the previous generation, he was daring enough to alter the proportions of the characters depicted in his carving. He allowed the natural deformations in the wood to guide the form of his carving, using gnarled logs well suited for representing twisted human bodies. He saw each deformed log or branch as a medium for expressing human feelings. Instead of depicting myths or scenes of daily life, Tilem took up “abstract” themes with philosophical or psychological content: using distorted pieces of wood that are endowed with strong expressive powers. Ida Bagus Tilem, however, was not only an artist, but also a teacher. He trained dozens of young sculptors from the area around the village of Mas. He taught them how to select wood for its expressive power, and how to establish dialogue between wood and Man that has become the mainstream of today’s Balinese woodcarving.
adapted from the opening remarks by Dr. Jean Couteau