Yeo Workshop is pleased to present Atlas of Curiosity by Citra Sasmita, the artist's second solo exhibition at the gallery. This new body of work stems from her long-term ongoing research project Timur Merah, meaning 'The East is Red', which traces historical narratives around the Malay-Indonesian archipelago (also known as Nusantara), particularly those about Bali. For this exhibition, Sasmita continues to incorporate textiles in her traditional Kamasan paintings as a symbolisation of body and souls. She takes inspiration from Fabricating Power with Balinese Textile (2018) by anthropologist and doctor Urmila Mohan, who wrote extensively about the historical significance of fabrics in Bali particularly its trading history when the Dutch and British had vied for control over Bali's port, and its later emergence into a valuable commodity for communication. Secret codes were hidden within fabrics and transported between kingdoms in the archipelago to disseminate information, much like morse codes used during wartime.
Probing the role of women in Indonesian literary and artistic canon in manifold ways, spiritual and emphatic, these works urge deeper reflection on access and autonomy, in relation to gender and class constructs in society, and Dutch colonialism during the 19th century. Bali's colonial history had shaped notions of authenticity and who was considered valuable in Balinese artistic heritage. This exhibition sheds critical light on the important but often overlooked role of women in Indonesian history, challenging existing post-colonial narratives that perpetuate gender stereotypes and inequality. Imbued with a powerful cosmology, Sasmita's works inevitably pull you into her own expansive, prophetic universe of divine heroines—one that is undeniably perceptive and convincing. Each work acts as a repository of spellbinding chronicles that invites you to look closer and ponder about its prolific meanings.
Press release courtesy Yeo Workshop.