The same object being seen can be completely different when perceiving with heart. And Putu Sutawijaya is able to deliver the alteration into beautiful art works.
It’s simply a visualization of how he inspires his hobbies of modifying old cars. Just like in a social life, an old car has many parts that collaboratively work together for the same purpose. Putu catches every ordinary event in his society and life, then he pictures it on a canvas.
He believes that life is a journey. Making mistakes is one of the natural characters of human being that leads to another event of life. To him, the answer is logical; getting a recipe of a good life is to try not to repeat the same mistake. Putu’s idealism of life has put him into becoming a man who is always learning how to achieve a better life. He is a depiction of an open-minded art worker who is willing to learn and work through his life.
Putu earned his formal education in art from Art Senior High School (SMSR) in Bali in 1991 before enhancing his art ‘know-how’ at Indonesia Institute of The Arts in Yogyakarta during 1991–1998. In the pursuit of his art study, he met I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, the one who put art milestone into Putu.
He has ever since taken a path as an artist and has made an array of achievements. For Putu, nevertheless, his achievements are another path en route to entering a new phase of life.
What does art mean to you?
To me, art means a journey that could raise lasting reminiscence on every aspect of life. At some points, we can elaborate on the aspect of life piece by piece with their unique character. Now and then, they flash and deliver momentous ideas to express. Our reminiscences are very meaningful rather than ordinary memories. That is an art.
Why do you choose painting as a tool to express your art psyche?
The humble way of expressing all the needs and anxiety records, which range from the simplest to the extraordinary, is through painting. However, painting is a custom in our civilization and we are used to using it as a means of communication. This has therefore made painting an art.
Actually when I decided to paint, it was not because the idol or adherent people. It much more because my interest in the visual language. I have realized since childhood that I am not good at science. Perhaps the way I was brought up in artistic environment of Bali community had influenced me into becoming art aficionado.
Soon after taking part in art study, I found visual language of a painter named I Gusti Nyoman Lempad; he is the one who put a “religion” to love visual art than ever. His works is an anomaly in Bali visual art. I still can feel his energy and vision until now even though I have difference visualization style.
He was different in thought and works. Since the day I met him to present, he is still an exceptional artist and has his own technique that cannot be duplicated by others. Lempad was able to catch the uniqueness of Balinese people in the beginning of his works.
What is your inspiration on your works?
Everything that occurs in my life can become the object of my inspiration toward my art works. Sometimes if we observe simple matter thoroughly, we may find it much complex than what we thought. And I love to explore it as an inspiration on my work.
How do you perceive your life and life per se?
My life is filled with mistakes and off course to get through this life I want to fix what I have done wrong in the past. It’s a natural perception of a life, as a matter of fact. I believe that learning from our mistakes is the best teacher to improve a quality of life. We never know the truth unless we made a mistake.
Keep trying to do better by learning from the past mistakes. It is important to analyze or at least know about our mistakes without throwing the blame to others. I’m always keen on learning by doing; be it from my own life experience or somebody else’s. I gratefully thank for being born as an Indonesian and grown up in a culture of complexity. My goal, therefore, is to be a wise Indonesian artist who thinks globally but keeps preserving my own culture and supporting the Indonesian artists and their priceless works.
How do you see Indonesian artist?
Indonesia needs zestful artists who are not only supportive to each other, but also continually do innovative works. I believe Indonesian arts and artists have their uniqueness in thought and individual skills. But it takes hard work for us to realize it.
How do you see art in the future?
I have faith in art that will give a positive influence because I am in visual art and this is how I make a living. I have the rewards from my works even though it was hard in the beginning. My achievement, at this point, is taking further journey into entering a new life that inspires more valuable arts.
Do you have hobbies other than painting?
I like automotive. I especially like restoring old cars. My family taught me about workshop and it stays in my blood until now. My childhood memories brought me to this hobby. I’m currently modifying a 1957 scrap old pick-up to transportation vehicle. It is a fun activity, indeed, even though I’m aware that this hobby sometimes takes an escape to painting.
Published in the 5th edition of PMR Magazine S’pore, September 2009.