Bali Post Group 
Vol.1/No.2, Dec.18 - Dec 31,1998 

The Art of Made Budhiana
Taking the Spirit of Freedom from Nature
The spirit of nature is freedom, and those who do not believe that human beings were put on earth and given the right to be free, have perhaps lost sight of what it means to be free. In the eyes of nature, anything whatsoever can be said, although there's a time and a place for everything.
Good and bad, dark and light, harshness and softness, all becomes one in the miraculously rich harmony of life. Diversity, contradiction , even conflict, indicate a kind of chaos with no particular logic or meaning, which we live through in a narrative corridor, and neither is subservient to the other. Conversely, each enriches the other, and in this manner humanity comes truly to life. The perceptions and desires of individuals faced with their respective versions of reality may, and indeed should, be different. And why not? As French thinker Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out, "My freedom stems from the knowledge that other people are free."        
This is the most important idea behind the creative process of artist I Made Budhiana, 39, who since 1980 has already exhibited his work in many of  the major cities of Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, America, Holland, Switzerland, Kuwait and France. An active member of Sanggar Dewata Indonesia, this artist was from the very beginning a natural teacher. He believes that the never-ending source of creativity is nature itself, either the natural environment or the man-made world, with the people and their creations present within it. "I am often moved by my immediate environment - by the natural world, and by the people who inhabit it. Through this presence of humanity in the natural world, my own culture has developed its own ceremony and ritual. The entire richness is an aesthetic event," says Budhiana. "I respond to this state of affairs with my interpretation of the present reality." 
Interestingly, despite this creative background Budhiana's approach to representing the reality he sees before him is best described as non-realist! He has always been true to the school of abstract expressionism, which he first encountered as a student at the Institute of Indonesian Arts (ISI), in Yogyakarta, where he studied between 1979 and 1987. He has his own reasons for this choice of medium. "If we look carefully many of the things around us appear abstract, and I think we should look at our own lives abstractly," said the painter, whose studio can be found in the area of Jalan Veteran in Denpasar. According to Budhiana, creative energy need not be limited by the physical world with its uncomfortable confinements of space and time. There is also the world of the supernatural to catalyse the creative powers of the artist, who can then create an abstract of this new dimension. In short, Budhiana's abstraction does not stem from unearthly meandering, but inhabits a place very close to home. 
This certainty is what differentiates Budhiana's paintings from those of other abstract expressionists. Even in his abstract works the reality of daily life is still the main focus. The difference lies in his choice of perspective, his perception, and finally his method of representing reality in two dimensions on a piece of canvas. 
The creative work of Budhiana is testament to this certainty. Through his knowledge of photography, the camera is for Budhiana a tool for cataloguing objects from interesting, even unorthodox  points of view. For example at a very close range, on a surface, or observing the contrast between the colours or shades of  objects. Consequently an ordinary object - a fish, for example - can become abstract, its physical appearance altered to something that it is not. Objects thus transformed are then transferred to canvas, so don't be surprised if Budhiana's paintings still show traces of clearly recognisable figures, like part of a human face, clouds or fingers. Fish corpses are one such 'suggestion' in one of his paintings - "Raungan Alam" (Nature's Howl, 1998). 
Budhiana's interpretation of reality is to a large extent driven by spiritual conflicts and emotional states, which he himself is prone to. In this way his paintings betray a kind of restlessness. Freely drifting, lush brush strokes full of contrasting colour appear iconoclastically next to harsh and rhythmic scrapings, splatterings and spray, breaking all painterly conventions. In his piece "Kedinginan" (The Cold, 1997), the free expression of Budhiana is at its apogee, with paint distributed almost according to its own will as if to free the painting from itself. Budhiana's formal academic training has obviously not been able to thwart his fierce expressiveness. He possesses a huge natural talent and a keen intelligence in conceptualising reality. Rather than express unreality on canvas, Budhiana throws all of his effort into representing the heart of reality with abandon, without thought, it seems, of the cost of paint! 
From the world of theory, the unbridled expressive talent of Budhiana easily reminds us of Jackson Pollock, the American abstract expressionist maestro. On closer inspection, however, the work of Budhiana is full of the vitality of the Balinese people in their time of transition into the modern era. Compared to previous epochs in which magic was the focus of much traditional painting of the courts, Budhiana's work tends rather to pay homage to this tradition through the use of dynamic colour, vigorous movement, ethnicity and even Balinese traditional music. As with Pollock, his prime concern is with "inner-consistency", meaning inner contemplation to achieve a system of harmony , which is total, universal, and above all free. 

(Arif B Prasetyo - The writer is an art lover living in Denpasar)

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