Tue, 30 Sep 2003

Vooges' meditative forms transcends craft

Carla Bianpoen, Contributor, Jakarta

Not so long ago, art historians, art critics and the public seemed at a loss when it came to distinguishing between art and craft. The line seems to have become even more blurred. What was considered "merely" craft in Indonesia is now recognized as art.

The CP Open Biennale, on show until Oct. 3, is a significant indication of this trend. In this auspicious exhibition, works that one might refer to as handicrafts or contemporary craft are displayed at the same level as the works of renowned foreign artists.

It must also be said, that some of the "craft" works exhibited are of a type that makes it hard to recognize them as high art.

The work of Carola Vooges -- whose medium is wood -- however, did not have any problem in attracting the art lovers' attention. The meditative form and extremely refined finish of the works confirm the transcendence of craft to new levels. They may be considered -- by both curators with new visions and conventional art connoisseurs -- genuine art works.

Evoking a flash of recognition in the viewer, Carola's works reflect the way she is inspired by nature and natural objects.

Born in Holland -- where the sea has historically been a dominating force -- and living in the Indonesian archipelago for the last decade, it should not be surprising that the sea and the objects close to it, have instilled in her a profound love for nature's splendor.

The semi-abstract works which somehow retain the detectable natural form of the object from which they were inspired, go deeper than one would expect, evoking a sense of reflection and reverence.

Her work, Space, for instance may remind us of a sea shell, but the upward lines and refined execution of the work may lead the viewer to a spiritual realm.

The same can be said of her work titled Navel, here the lines are carved with precision and feeling.

The Navel, whether perceived as the physical center of the world or the spiritual center (as in the yoga tradition), inspires quiet contemplation.

Carola uses suar wood, a type of hard wood. She says her preference for this kind of wood is, among others, determined by its natural coloring of brown and creamy tones, which seems to accentuate the flowing forms.

Having worked as an art teacher for children and seniors while pursuing a career as an actress and model in the Netherlands, where she was born, art has long been part of her life. But she came to work with wood only after she moved to Bali, where she has now lived for more than a decade.

"My work is an exploration of natural forms," she said, explaining her stylized versions of natural structures.

Mostly deriving from the awe of the sea in her country of birth as well as in Indonesian archipelago, her whimsical forms are often abstractions of things close to the water. Found objects, like seashells, have inspired her often sensual creations.

However, her source of inspiration is not limited to the ocean.

This was revealed in her exhibitions at Galeri Ganesha at the Four Seasons Resort in Bali last year.

The title,Pyramid, may suggest a structure with triangular sloping sides that meet at the top. But, Carola's structure was laid out on the floor, thus alluding to the snail, which symbolically represents the enduring within the changeable.

Carola's works are open for interpretation, depending on the viewer. The good thing is that regardless of conceptual interpretation the works are enjoyable esthetically.

Among the remarkable attributes of this sculptor is her ability to carve objects in an abstract shape, while at the same time hinting at the original physical form.

This is like the visualization of her creative process.

Making such works demands time, endurance and patience. There is no doubt that Carola Vooges will continue creating works of significance to the language of esthetics.