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Living, painting, thinking... in Bali
Rosa López Calull


For the second time visiting the island of Bali. The first meeting was in 1992, a very significant personal and artistic level. During that first stay of two months I was stepping into the intricacies of a culture that despite the alleged difference was as close and fed my ego, it was hard not to toy with the idea of "Paradise". The event that prompted this project, sixteen years later, it was Love, not the Western love of big words, but the Balinese daily life, the small details, for Art. Never simple people around the world, enjoyed my work, as they did the painting "Bali" in Padangbai. Thus the project "Meeting back" was not without an air narcissistic, although conscious discourse appealing to confront ghosts, fantasies and havens in two stages, as Freud puts it, until we live a second time no experience makes sense the first.
Once there I began to paint as planned, I was relating to everyday life and the Balinese, especially with Agung Rai founder and president of ARMA Museum. In this task began to emerge a different reality of the imagined, and to outline the question that had brought me across the world.
With Agun Rai spoke of simple things: customs, foods, spices, flowers ... and not so simple: ritual, religion, God or gods, the political, economic, the role of women, changing aspirations of the population ... Almost never talked about my work, the challenge was assuming lead out the project, so during the early days was manifested as a symptom. As we crossed together the entrance to the gardens of the museum, he insisted "All this is your studio, you can paint anywhere", but I'm cloistered in my four walls, the interior of the home study, in the shadow of the wonders of human and landscape that enveloped me.
Beyond the protective shade attitude could have my recollection, the fact is that concealed a question to my relationship with potential viewers or critics, or perhaps beginning to discern that, myself and work, mingled in a single concept. At this point in the process, questions that had hovered months ago took shape "What has happened to the artists of today, we are only a reflection in superlative narcissistic society we live? What place does the work, which the observer and what the artist? Are we just another product of consumer society?"
Clearly, this project was dealing with my NARCISSISM, my fears and hidden desires of "What will?" my fantasies of "great artist". In fact my viewers would not be producers and consumers of art, who already know how to be happy, would be children, musicians, waiters, foreigners, pallets ... People who do not simulate and my work (or I?) would be naked.
Terrified and desiring went to what might be called "outside", although we could say my "inside manifest". Under a thatched roof discovered more intense green and red resisted the stroke gained strength and the spatula danced as "Katcha-Katcha" (1)
Thus was born "taksu" in a tangled web of "Bagus" "Selamat pagi" "Apa kabar", children playing with my palette and jumping from the stage, ladies sitting practicing English and watching my faster movements , quieter drawing mates, construction workers carrying bricks and numerous visits varied. The work took on value as I disappeared into the mortar failed to belong in every stroke to be part of that environment.
In words of Agung Rai:
"The concept of taksu is important to the Balinese, in fact to any artist. I do not think one can simply plan to paint a beautiful painting, a perfect painting. The issue of taksu is also one of honesty, for the artist and the viewer. An artist will follow his heart or instinct, and he will not care what other people think. A painting that has magic does not need to be elaborated upon, the painting alone speaks. A work of art that is difficult to describe in words has to be seen with the eyes and a heart that is open and not influenced by the name of the painter. In this honesty, there is a purity of connection between the viewer and the viewed."

(1) The fire's dance in the full moon



I'd been thinking and working about the taksu concept on the last year. I learnt that "taksu" has diferent connotations, like "charisma", "spiritual", "soul", "intervention of Gods"...it depends of the sphere that it works. Anyway is a word deeply rooted in the balinese live. We can traslate it like "tener duende"(1) in the arts field, something difficult for catching, though it acts like a facilitator at the same time.

There are two meaningful paintings: "Ibu Pertiwi Kesuburan" and "Meletakkan Akar".

The first one was painted in the hall of the museu. It was a big effort by myself because the light often changed and the people was always around me, particulary small dancers who were performing at the lobby. I could say that this painting was result of many interventions, everyone said their opinion, from the famous painter to the lowest employee. Painting was no longer a "sacred act" to become a "shared ritus". And for that reason my live at the Museum changed. I was no longer "the catalan painter" to become " a worker of ARMA", I started to share something else than talks at the lunch time in the dinning room. Moreover, we can begin to glimpe the roots of Balinese culture in this paint. Perhaps the reason is my new interest in walking around the outkirts of Ubud, attending all kind of events and celebrations such as cremations, art openings, dance performance, school festivals...

"Put down roots" was my last work in ARMA and really significant of my process there. I not only had strengthened my relationship with Balinese people, but also with the internacional community living in Ubud, so I began to ask to myself about the meaning of "to belong to".It was clear that the foreign, but they did not belong to that land, not even legally they couldn't buy land or house in which they lived. This painting with its intricates roots, which hardly seem to belong to the tree, iluistrates my experience of balinese culture better than anything. This culture is apparently simple but profoundly marked in the day by day for the ritual, the "rite" as "to belong to the community". I could almost say that being a balinese as such doesn't exist unless you belong to a balinese community.

Hence, "Taksu" is shaping as "Taksu of Bali". Hence, too, this time the exhibition of the paintings is in the spot where the work is done, turning the "art object" in an element of nature, as "belonging" at that place."Taksu" yes, but "Taksu of Bali" not elsewhere.

(1) I'm sorry, I can't traslate it. It's a spanish term of Flamenco dance.

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