Satya Cipta


Satya Cipta was born in 1988 to a Balinese family from Lampung, South Sumatra. She was raised in an environment where the Balinese are a minority that has to constantly struggle for recognition.  As she grew up she discovered the reality of harassment and sexual violence. After high-school, she took up studies at the Jakarta Institute of the Arts (IKJ), providing her with a wider, feminist vision of the world. Yet, another shock waited her when she came to settle in Bali and married there. In Balinese tradition, women have few rights. So she revolted, but also decided to set her revolt within the framework of Balinese culture. 

So she took up the study of Balinese painting technique with some of the best masters of the island. Her works thus combine a perfect appropriation of the Balinese drawing technique with strong feminist statements. Add the peculiarities of her style and her own personal creative expressive urge, and we have an important female artist in the making.

Satya’s style is derived from tradition, but the narrative content of her works is totally novel. And provocative. Balinese artists never criticize social and religious order. Social and gender roles are clearly defined and questioning them is inconceivable. Religion further reinforces this stasis.

On the outside, Satya’s works do not contradict such depiction. The fine linearity of her drawings brings to mind the works of Gusti Nyoman Lempad, Bali’s greatest historical master. Furthermore, her drawing line does not simply depict a story or a situation, as in ordinary Balinese paintings or drawings, but it exists for its own sake: it reinvents space and volume.

Yet, Satya’s narrative inspiration is novel. It garbs itself in a Balinese drawing style to better criticize Balinese social order, in particular with regard to a taboo, the condition of Balinese. With a few exceptions, it is not harmony she is talking about but its opposite: violence or disharmony. Not cosmic order, but the social disorder of women in revolt; women who do not accept the distribution of the role attributed to them in Balinese tradition, women in revolt against the sexual violence of men, women avenging the violence done to them. For this reason, the main locus of her expression is the body: the body subject to violence, the body burdened or the body in love.

Image by Gyorgy Szemok

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