The maestro of Kamasan art Nyoman Mandra passed away.
I Nyoman Mandra (1946-2018) is considered the most accomplished and eminent artist in Kamasan-style paintings of his generation. He was born in the right place and luckily into an artistic family as for Kamasan artists family connections and even a place of residence are important factors. His maternal grandfather Rambug (c. 1850-1925) and his uncle Nyoman Dogol (1875-1963) were leading Kamasan artists of their respective generations.
In his youth Mandra experimented with other art forms, but by the 1970s stood out as a significant painter of Kamasan (classical Balinese) syle. Mandra’s overarching passion was to continue the Kamasan art tradition. For this reason, he established a teaching program at his studio where the young people in the village would receive quality instructions as well as access to painting materials. In teaching, Mandra was very persistent and disciplined, even when ill he made an effort to attend to his pupils. As a result, almost all younger generations of Kamasan painters are his former students. Among them are I Wayan Pande Sumantra (born in1966) and his daughter, Ni Wayan Sri Wedari (born in 1974). Mandra always welcomed visitors to his studio and shared his artistic and cultural knowledge, his guest book is full of names of prominent people.
In the 1980s Mandra was helping to restore the “Hall of Justice” Kerta Ghosa in Klungkung – a prominent display-repository of Kamasan paintings. This massive collection of paintings was originally installed in the nineteenth century, and subsequently refurbished in 1918, 1933 and 1960 under supervision of prominent artists like Rambug, Dogol, and Pan Seken. The Kerta Ghosa is an iconic monument of Kamasan art that impresses and inspires generations of Balinese artists, ordinary citizens and foreign visitors. Mandra was involved in consultations and planning for the next refurbishment of the “Hall of Justice” and was seriously concerned about its future.
Sadly, Nyoman Mandra died on 10 June 2018. He left a wonderful legacy of superb quality work, including about 100 paintings that were considered for a planned exhibition. But his legacy is as important in teaching, mentoring young people and tireless community work.
The Australian Museum is fortunate to have a few of his paintings in its collection.