Sometimes a business or individual with a passionate interest in an arts community, and in the health of society as a whole, can bring artists together in dynamic ways. One source of that passion and enthusiasm is Denpasar’s CushCush Gallery.
CushCush Gallery (CCG) was launched in 2016 by innovative design concern CushCush. Its owners, architect Jindee Chua, of KL, and Indonesian designer Suriawati Qiu from Solo, met as students in Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Jindee and Suriawati excel at designs marrying contemporary sophistication with Indonesia’s culture and craft and natural materials.
On a gang just off the intersection of Jalans Teuku Umar and Diponogoro, CushCush occupies an old garment factory, repurposed for the manufacture of furniture, accessories and housewares in a modern Nusa Tenggara vein. CCG occupies a small, bright section and stands as the operation’s interface and resource linking art and design.
At press time, retrospective exhibition Natural Curiosities: A Tribute to Natural Wonders, Artisans and Designers is on view, celebrating 16 years of CushCush’s creations, showing threads of exploration and innovation using local materials. Now in the final days of the show (closing is 9 June), the gallery opens by appointment only (contact Gallery Assistant Sagung, 0361 242 034). With no parking, arranging a lift there and out is essential.
Just as CushCush collaborates regularly with other professionals in craft, hospitality, and design industries, Suriawati and Jindee see the need for greater collaboration between artists of varied disciplines. Year-round events and workshops at CCG bring the public (especially children) closer to art and artists.
Last year’s Denpasar 2017 was an ambitious project from CCG which elevated the profile of many resident artists, dancers, and craftsmen, some of them young and virtually unknown. With the theme of Bahasa Pasar or Market Language, 17 artists and groups (4 by invitation, 13 chosen by jury), produced art delving into the identities and spirit of Denpasar itself. Their stories and struggles, some involving migration from other islands, were revealed sometimes poignantly, often boldly in a great array of media. Participants included an illustrator working as a barista and a comics artist from Riau.
To prep the artists taking part in the show, CCG had pioneering graphic artist Arief ‘Ayip’ Budiman and cultural activist/deejay Marlowe Bandem give short talks about the significance of the city’s market culture.
The multidisciplinary group was then led through Bali’s markets, traveling on foot and by bemo, newly seeking that which could fire their imaginations. These markets and merchants’ districts are identified right alongside museums and artists’ studios on CCG’s Denpasar Art Map published for the exhibition. Denpasar 2017 essentially urged all comers to see the city’s markets with the eyes of art lovers if not as artists. CCG embraces the longstanding role of artists as tour guides to our times, chroniclers of society, and dreamers of our future. The Art Map is downloadable at cushcushgallery.com/ccg/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/DenPasar2017-ArtMap.pdf
For three months, CCG‘s tranquil white cube became something of an agora, its walls vibrant with the faces of work and commerce, as seen through diverse media. Purposeful hustlers, images of enticing arrays of goods, and reimagined artifacts of the city, became new icons of Balinese life and culture.
CCG’s programs for children (PlayPlay and Charcoal for Kids), have seen collaborations between generations and disciplines, spilling into this year. There were charcoal-making classes (imagine this: a conte crayon made from a camphor or a mango tree), charcoal drawing sessions where young children could try out the medium for the first time, and Drawing Future: simply planting the seeds of inspiration and creative thinking by letting children experiment and discover art on their own terms. One workshop was a collaboration with adult artists and resulted in a fundraising evening for a charity. For Monster Menari, performance artist Adhika Annissa engaged youngsters in dance experimentation, while Monez Gusmang captured the scene in charcoals in an art brut style, which in turn reappeared in a limited-edition run of scarves.
Rounding out the ongoing activities with talks about design and street art, CushCush has succeeded in launching a movement for the elevation of Bali’s contemporary art milieu with an energetic discourse on Denpasar’s culture, and a greater public appreciation of local urban identity. Bali’s visual art scene is headed for greater triumphs, now that artists who met during Denpasar 2017 are forming their own communities and collaborations.
Now, CCG is calling for applicants to participate in Denpasar 2018, with its theme of jingga. Jingga is the color of dusk, that intense moment just after sunset, experienced by us in sometimes profound ways. CushCush literature describes it best:
A time that becomes the estuary of life’s light and dark moments. A metaphor of how we may perceive two different things within the same instant, while being lulled in its beauty. With this theme we want to undepurstand both the struggles and victories of Denpasar people and its lovers, to interpret Denpasar as their homes. We hope to uncover both the bright and the dark sides. The process of convincing, building, maintaining, or even re-questioning.
Artists, designers, creators and artisans of all kinds can apply to CCG’s open call for proposals and finished work. The deadline for submissions is July 2, and full details about what the jurors require can be found at cushcushgallery.com. The resulting show will open at CCG on October 5 and run through November 4, so save the dates.
For further information on Denpasar 2018, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Whatsapp +6281 8055 42430 (Sagung) CushCush Gallery Address: Jl. Teuku Umar, Gang Rajawali no. 1A Denpasar 0361 242 034 Google Maps: CushCush email@example.com
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Plan now: June 23 – July 21: Bali Arts Festival (Pesta Kesenian Bali), 40th anniversary, Denpasar Arts Centre (Taman Werdhi Budaya). Jalan Nusa Indah, Denpasar (0361 245 294). A true high point of the Bali arts calendar, too often devoid of tourists but a great slice of Baliana and popular with Balinese. Download the schedule at www.disbud.baliprov.go.id/id/The-40th-Bali-Arts-Festival-2018
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