2020, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 170 x 120 cm

To the Indonesia-based artist Luh’De, tension lies in navigating the noise and endless simulation of her exterior life. The artist identifies herself as quiet person, and thus finds socializing and other mundane things that may come natural to others exhausting. She sees her art as both an escape, and a way to understand these daunting conflicts as she creates visual scenes within her control. Yet, she is aware that even as she is creating, these strains never truly go away.

2020, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 170 x 127.5 cm

In her series Paradiso, she further engages this idea of playing ‘God’ as an artist, grappling with what it means to create her own ‘ideal’. Her process begins by drawing from her memories and choosing which to retrieve and vividly recall, and in effect, which to forget. Then, with these ‘ideal memories’, she creates these projected, manipulated visions of parallel worlds inhabited by fictional Sims characters. In navigating tensions and vestiges of her past, she emphasises her agency in creating her own simulated paradise.

To her, the process is instinctive: she is often unaware of the reasons why she retrieves certain places from her past, or projects particular visions of her future in virtual games—but in attempting to understand why she connects all these different parts together, she achieves a crucial level of self-awareness. 

2020, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 120 x 170 cm

It is now fitting to mention another major source of tension in Luh’de’s artistic practice: incorporating her identity as a Balinese. She admits that while the ubiquitous exoticising of Bali triggers in her a sense of unease, she simultaneously does not want to detach herself completely from her home—choosing instead to borrow ideas of the ‘paradise’ it provides, and make it her own.

Though she is not certain if she wants to eventually break free from this ‘stereotype’ as a Balinese, she credits this constant struggle in reconciling her cultural identity for fuelling her curiosity and creativity. Indeed, in these seemingly arbitrary insertions of personal memories slicing through the otherwise vacant and impersonal depictions of paradise, Luh’de powerfully centres her subjectivity and ongoing, complicated search for identity. 

2020, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 120 x 170 cm

In the painting Paradiso #5, a figure dressed in a crumpled orange shirt and loose denim pants stands at the rightmost side of the canvas. The piece captures the subject only from her chest down to the bottom of her jeans, and thus her head escapes the composition—rendering her identity anonymous, elusive. 

Yet, particular details reveal important clues into the subject’s inner and present world. Her arms are crossed, with her hands firmly gripping her arms—indicating self-protection, or deep, fraught contemplation.

Entering from the left side of the painting, an assemblage of disjointed parts—broken and rusted junk; a heart-eyed caricature; slivers of thin leaves—intrude the scene like the unhinged, gestural strokes of an abstract painter. Contrasting anxiety and ease, the real and surreal, the clean and chaotic, the painting invites viewers to confront the tension radiating from its subject. 

Amid this scene, she now appears caught in a disorienting state—as if struggling to make sense of the jarring visual noise flooding her mind, memories and moment.

(b. 1997, Bali, Indonesia)

Luh Gede Gita Sangita Yasa is a recent graduate from Institut Teknologi Bandung. Majoring in Fine Arts, she works primarily with oils, watercolor, graphite and sometimes resin. She often employs bold colors and composition in a juxtaposition manner. Her recent works struggle to create a perfect cohesive whole, an ‘ideal reality’ out of fragments from memories, dreams and mundane routines, a sensible narrative out of these divergent parts.