A Place for the Moody Blues – in Sepia

Art as a Question: A work in the new Ganesha exhibition opening on February 4.

Lombok-born artist Karyana began his career as a self-taught realist, but his penchant for fleeting impressions has recently led him to a moody space that borders on the abstract.

While some of his scenes, traditional fishing boats mirrored in the waters, are clearly inspired by the world that surrounds him on his native island, others delve into mystery that provokes one’s imagination. Careful study may reveal a hidden horse or dancer, but these can easily fade back into the whole as if they never existed.

Such experiments are wholly dependent on his mastery of the difficult media of aquarelle, which at its best is luminous and seemingly spontaneous, and at worst muddy and confusing. Limiting his palette to subdued browns with an occasional tint of colour is also courageous. His success in recapturing the feeling of old sepia photographs, too, is an admittance of his dalliance with historical nostalgia in the post-modern world.

While the art and artists of Lombok have long been overshadowed by its western neighbour, at least in the art world’s mind, it can in no way be considered of less importance. Interestingly, whereas most traditional Balinese art is renowned for its boisterous use of colour, that of the Sasak people of Lombok is far earthier in tone and flavour.

After a year working in Ubud and three years as a commercial artist, Karyana has returned home in both body and spirit.

SEPIA: GANESHA GALLERY, Four Seasons Jimbaran, February 4-March 1. Daily 9am-6pm.
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