Artist Sinta Tantra seems to have an endless creativity which is just as much explosive as her colour palette. She works restlessly shifting from exhibitions to large scale public projects to architectural interventions and more. In her work she is able to synthesise different influences finding her unique voice in the encounter of Western modernism and the Balinese culture.
She is about to inaugurate a large scale public intervention in China but she took some time out of her busy schedule to have a chat with us. Here’s what we talked about:
On your website you say “each artwork is an abstract blueprint for her utopian aspirations”. Can you tell me a bit more about this utopian aspirations?
S.T.: My work is inspired by early 20th century art movements, such as Modernism, Art Deco, Bahuahus and more. Quite a lot of these movements had the idea of improving our lives through art. For example Bahuahus was seeking to achieve a better life quality through design. My “utopian aspirations” regards how my blueprints can have a bigger impact on people’s lives. I construct and build both a concept and something that physically exists and can have an influence on real life.
In your work you explore different languages and materials. You realise paintings, sculptures, textiles, public art and more. Does your creative approach change in accordance with the support?
S.T.: I usually create the drawings on the computer and after I transfer them on the surfaces. My process is a back and forth between the second and the third dimension, from the studio samples to the final works. It is also a communication process between me and the people I work with. I collaborate with people in different Countries and sometimes communicating it’s difficult, for example when we talk about different colour systems. Textiles are particularly difficult for matching colours and also the process involves more hand drawing and less computer. Currently, I am trying to figure out a shared language that can be used by people in different sectors and different Countries. I am trying to break down the blueprint into unit of information that can be easily understood by all the people I work with.
Communication is crucial and is not always easy. I am working with China at the moment and it’s difficult to reach out for them because of the firewall China has on the Internet. I need to share huge files and I’ll probably just send an usb stick by post. It’s interesting to understand how things work in different places. I learn a lot everyday.
You are a champion of transculturalism. You have worked all around the world and your art synthesise influences from both the Western and the Balinese cultures . In your opinion, is Western contemporary art ready to overcome its Western-centric approach and truly open up to other narratives?
S.T.: I hope so! I feel there is a great shift that is happening today, you can see it even through the hashtags campaigns on social media such as #metoo or #blacklivesmatter. We are opening to multiple identities; you can be whoever you want because you are narrating your own history. My work, for example, combines multiple identities. It has a very modernist appearance but it doesn’t share that kind of romantic idealism that is crucial in the Modernism narrative.
I feel like the market is expanding too, you are allowed of thinking out of the box more than before. The system is getting different, for example lot of work now is promoted through social media, changing the very idea of authority in terms of who declares a work worthy. And we are finally exploring more voices. On one hand I am very positive about all of that, on the other, though, I think we need to be careful because it also could be just a fad and a kind of exploitation. It’s important to talk about inclusion and diversity but we need to think deeply about which kind of changes we want to achieve and how, I am interested in a long term kind of change.
You work a lot in the public realm and your pieces have a strong relational component. What is your challenge for the viewer?
S. T.: I expect a lot from the viewer but sometimes I think I shouldn’t expect anything because people are free to engage with the work or not. When the work does engage people I would love for them to understand that the public space belongs to everybody. I’d like them to think of how they can take a piece of that shared space and bring it with them in their everyday lives. I’d love them to feel energised, activated by the colours and the shapes and I’d love them to be surprised when they encounter the work. It’s a sort of passive activism, I want my work to generate sparkle, connection and inspire people to feel that connection and keep it with them. It’s always interesting to see how people react to my art. I’ve been refining the approach of public art over the years and I think I reached a point in my career where I want to add another layer of vulnerability to it.