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Kemalezedine’s Rerajahan: Deconsecrated Mantra

4 February - 19 March 2023


Kemalezedine’s Rerajahan: Deconsecrated Mantra

Written by Asmudjo J. Irianto

With paintings, the painter inhales the world into his or her own physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual being and exhales it into poetry in paint.” (Lawrence, 2013: 7)

So far, Kemalezedine's paintings cannot be separated from traditional Balinese art. Likewise, in his seventh solo exhibition, the influence of traditional Balinese art was quite strong. This can be seen from the theme he worked on, namely rerajahan. The use of drawing techniques is what gives Kemal's paintings their strength and uniqueness. It is difficult to deny that Balinese painting traditions influenced Kemal's drawing technique. Traditional Balinese paintings are frequently described as colored pictures. Kemal dedicated himself to the history and techniques of traditional Balinese painting. Kemal's main interest is in the visual-formal aspect, which is related to the drawing technique. This is understandable; as a non-Balinese artist, Kemal is, of course, distant from matters of content, meaning, and the conventions of traditional Balinese painting. Therefore, even though Kemal was interested in rerajahan, he was not an expert on rerajahan. His knowledge of rerajahan is quite limited. What became Kemal's main interest was the visual aspect of the rerajahan. Basically, Kemal really likes to draw, and because of that, he has been interested in the visuals of rerajahan, which are basically pictures. Rerajahan is not a subject that lends itself easily to contemporary painting. Kemal had to work hard to transform the rerajahan into his personal works of art.

Kemal’s growing understanding of traditional Balinese painting led him to recognize the significance of drawing techniques in Balinese painting. This is obviously very different from Western painting, with the Realist style being illusive, expressive, or abstract expressionism, which values layers of paint and brush strokes. However, in contrast to traditional Balinese painting, which has been extensively studied and researched on its history and principles, this is not the case with rerajahan. It is possible that this is due to the fact that rerajahan are images and characters whose conventions and meanings are understood by only a small group of people who cannot be called traditional artists. Hindu religious priests and shamans (balian) who have a position as people who can apply rerajahan in ritual, mystical, and magical contexts come into contact with rerajahan. In traditional Balinese painting, rerajahan plays an important role. Sudana acknowledges rerajahan to be the forerunner of traditional Balinese painting because it has existed since pre-Hindu times. Rerajahan then experienced syncretization with Hinduism and manifested as part of Hindu religious rituals. (Sudana, 2009: 151)


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