Gingers, shallots, chilies, and other tiny spices are enchantingly depicted by I Wayan Januariawan (Donal) on his canvases. The everyday life in Bali, heliconia, and banana plants in front of his house are other subjects that easily spark his artistic creativity. In his recent paintings, Donal plays with colors and the ephemeral effect of sunlight. He likes to walk outside to paint en plein air in nature.
Donal’s impressionist paintings are appealing to many eyes. Nonetheless, some people still ask “are those paintings merely a mooi indies?” “where is the depth of such artworks?”
For the first sight, it is easy to be trapped on those questions and assumptions without knowing the context of his works. The artist himself is fine with any opinions: people may love his painting merely because of its colors or its decorative element. But, if they want to know more, Donal would share the voices or stories behind it.
“The dangerous beauty,” that is how Donal describes his recent artworks. Inside the “beauty” of his paintings, there are hidden resistance, critique, or political statement. Take a look at the nature he painted. While some investors exploit the beauty of Bali’s nature, he tries to “own it back” through his paintings. He makes money “from nature” without taking too much from it.
Another time, he painted a coconut tree with parasite plants lives in its trunk. The painting was displayed at an exhibition on the theme of “violence.” Some people wondered what was the connection between the pretty tree and cruelty. Donal used coconut as a symbol of Balinese culture which is slowly being wrecked by “parasites.” What or who are the parasites? The painter lets you decide for yourself.
Even though nowadays Donal is known for his impressionist works, he was first recognized as a conceptual artist. He used to experiment with various mediums such as rusty zincs and woven mats. After some years, particularly following his revisits to the conceptual art exhibition at Moca Art Gallery, Thailand, Donal had gained a new perspective. He argues that conceptual art expands the gap between art and the public. For him, this type of art is difficult to be understood and appreciated by common people, and most importantly, it did not bring happiness to him anymore.
He then began to freely create impressionist paintings. He brought small canvasses when he walked or traveled outside, painting in the open air, be closer to nature. “Back to basic” as he said. Like the young Donal studied in Art School, he started to paint simple subjects again such as landscapes, fruit, and spices.
Nevertheless, it does not mean he stops exploring other artistic possibilities. Currently, and yes this is a secret: he is working on a project, a series of paintings with a totally different style. Dare to know more? Keep in touch with the artist!
I Wayan Januariawan (Donal) graduated from the Indonesian Institute of Art, Denpasar. His artworks have been displayed many times in various international exhibitions, art spaces, and museums in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Germany, Belarus, and other countries.
Studio address : Jalan Jero Gadung No. 89, Banjar Kutuh Kelod 80571, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali