Celebrating Life And Fertility
The Business Times, 2 October 2009
The Swedish-born Richard Winkler is sensitive about being called a Balinese artist, although much of his acclaim has come from his paintings of the Indonesian island.
His art is collected in the United States, Europe and by prominent personalities in Asia, particularly Indonesia where he lives and works. The owner of the high-end Bvlgari resort in Bali, for example, has more than a dozen of his works.
While Winkler admits being in Bali has opened his eyes to experiences he never expected, he feels one never grows out of the place one is born in. In a way, the 40-year-old is trying to divorce himself from the many Western artists painting out of Asia, especially Bali. His artistic take on Bali, he seems to insist, is contemporary and evolving.
The gallery representing Winkler clearly believes in him. It has taken up six booths, in itself unprecedented, to unveil the latest phase of his work - his sculptures, along with his latest paintings. ARTSingapore has never had so much space devoted to one artist. "Collectors are passionate about Winkler. Now with his sculptures, they can appreciate his art on a new level," says Hingkie , owner of Zola Zolu Gallery in Indonesia that represents him.
Married to his Chinese-Indonesian pen-pal and now a father of two daughters, Winkler's art celebrates nature, especially nature's fertility. This explains his fascination with the female form. "To me, a woman is a symbol of fertility and life. She gives birth to new life. She is strong, but at the same time sensitive and sensual."
Winkler's figures and landscapes have been described as "tubular" in form with sensual, if not erotic, undercurrents. He works with many thin layers of transparent colours with a glazing technique. This creates deep and intense colours which have become his signature. And now, he is ready to unveil his sculptures. To many of his collectors, this progression isn't surprising.
"His paintings are already very sculptural. The human form has a three-dimensional texture and feel," explains Frankie Lee who has admired Winkler's works since his first exhibition in Indonesia in 2000. "Even though the proportions are often exaggerated, you feel the sensuality and eroticism of not just the women but the entire landscape. It's remarkable."
Before Indonesia, Winkler's works were sculpturally abstract. A piece entitled The Mother looks like a building folded across the canvas with no recognisable human features. His Indonesian phase is more crowded and figurative. Everything has a tubular -humanoid dimension-humans and trees, mountains and animals all blend in with no clear distinction of their own species.
His present phase is a return to his early works. The canvas is sparser: the figurative has become abstract. But the voluptuous life-giving signature is unmistakable. It is now a contemporary abstract, almost architectural celebration of fertility. "Yes, I am going back, to simplify. I have begun to stretch, pull and twist the forms, to make it more abstract," he points out.
Winkler's sculptures are three-dimensional forms of his latest phase. He enlarged his studio for this dream, working with plaster of paris, and then making a bronze casting, with each sculpture limited to five editions. "I love the fact that a bronze sculpture is very hard to destroy, and that it will be around for some time," he adds.
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