Don’t Miss This Balinese Artist’s Singapore Showcase

Gajah Gallery in Tanjong Pagar is hosting a solo exhibition on the late feminist painter I GAK Murniasih.

Bermain Dengan Anak Anakku (Playing with My Children), 2004, acrylic on canvas, by I GAK Murniasih (Photo courtesy of Gajah Gallery)

I Gusti Ayu Kadek (GAK) Murniasih, a seminal Balinese artist known for her controversial feminist paintings and sculptures, is the subject of a month-long solo exhibition at Singapore’s Gajah Gallery that will launch on July 15. Titled “Shards Of My Dreams That Remain In My Consciousness,” the showcase features more than 50 works taken from her decade-long career, such as Jangan Sampai Terjadi Lagi Padaku (Don’t Let It Happen To Me Again), Menanti Kedatangan Bapak (Awaiting Your Arrival), and more.

The artist, who was known to her contemporaries as Murni, led a difficult life; born into poverty in Tabanan, Bali, she was sexually abused by her father at a young age and was forced to labor as a domestic worker at only 10. She was also the first woman to get a divorce in Bali, and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer before she hit 40, which led to her untimely passing in 2006. She channeled this trauma she faced into her art, which features appropriately linked topics such as feminism, identity, sex, violence, and death.

Jangan Sampai Terjadi Lagi Padaku (Don’t Let It Happen To Me Again), 2001, acrylic on canvas, by I GAK Murniasih. (Photo courtesy of Gajah Gallery)

The raw meaning behind Murni’s art attracted viewers and ultimately led her to showcase her work in Hong Kong, Australia, Italy, and soon her home country, Indonesia. She presented her paintings and sculptures at Cemeti Art House in Yogyakarta and continued to do so at several exhibitions throughout Southeast Asia. This spike in popularity helped her become known worldwide for her ability to bring light to injustices and their survivors through her “taboo” pieces that gained the attention of prominent critics in the art world.

Her solo exhibition at Gajah Gallery highlights the evolution of her work, ranging from her early pastel-colored canvases to her bolder, dauntless, and vibrant pieces which she soon became known for. The collection addresses topics such as sex, power, bizarre creatures, vivid dreams and the artist’s unrestrained depictions of the female body. As said in The Curtain Opens: Indonesian Women Artists (2007), Murni’s pieces showcase the “gripping statements of a woman’s struggle from passive sexual object to active sexual subject”.

“I Gusti Ayu Kadek (GAK) Murniasih: Shards Of My Dreams That Remain In My Consciousness” is open to the public from July 15 to August 15, 2021 at Gajah Gallery in Singapore. Online events accompanying the exhibition will occur from July 22–30; the detailed schedule is still a work in progress and will be announced soon.

More information here.

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