Made Berata creates gamelan angklung painting for a new CD

Peliatan artist Madé Berata created this acrylic-on-paper painting for the cover of a new CD of gamelan angklung music from Vital Records appearing later this spring.

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At the request of composer-teacher-writer Wayne Vitale, Pak Madé designed this modern wayang work showing angklung musicians and instruments. Its detail recalls old Balinese temple paintings of performances for royal courts and festivals, while the simplicity of the image and the humor of the wayang style caricatures bring it alive as a 21st-century CD illustration.

Vitale recorded the music in Kerobokan in 1992, his first year as director of Gamelan Sekar Jaya of Oakland, California.

Madé Berata (below) teaches wayang painting at the Institute Seni Indonesia in Denpasar. He is the son of wayang artist Ketut Madra, also of Peliatan.

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photos by Anggara Mahendra

The painter becomes a dancer and musician…

By the 1980s, Ketut Madra’s position as an accomplished wayang painter was sufficiently well established that he finally had the time to turn his attention to dance and music.

He learned masked dance – especially the varied roles of bondres and the topeng tua – from Wayan Kantor of Batuan. He was soon performing professionally with Peliatan’s renowned dance group Tirta Sari.

To be a full member of Tirta Sari he needed to be a musician as well. The group’s leader urged him to learn rebab, a two-stringed bowed lute in the gamelan ensemble. A friend gave him a rebab and a cassette tape of solo music; he learned to play by imitating the cassette. On finding he had learned the basics, Tirta Sari’s leader told him to buy a cassette of rebab music as played with a full gamelan – and Madra soon established himself as the group’s “string section.” In the photo below, he plays rebab at the odalan of the Pura Dalem Gde with the seka gong ARMA, 20 minutes after his last performance here.

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In his art, Madra has often returned to Dewi Saraswati, goddess of culture, music, education, science and more. His two depictions of Saraswati below show her holding two different instruments: in the 1973 drawing she has a simple bamboo flute; in the 2011 painting – and in all of Madra’s recent portraits of her – she carries a rebab.

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Soemantri Widagdo and Ketut Madra talk wayang art…

… in Madra’s studio in Banjar Kalah, Peliatan, before the Ramayana wayang kulit performance there on April 13.

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Soemantri (left) is a volunteer curator at Ubud’s Museum Puri Lukisan, which will host the exhibition, Ketut Madra and 100 Years of Wayang Painting from October 7 to November 7, 2013. Madra’s Ramayana painting of the Sacrifice of Dewi Sita (Sita Satya) in the background is a recent work that will be in the exhibition.