Budi Agung Kuswara
b. 1982, Indonesia
Budi Agung Kuswara or ‘Kabul’, as he prefers to be known, was born in Sanur, Bali in 1982. He graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the Indonesia Institute of Arts (ISI), Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He was raised into the custom of Kamasan painting, i.e, the living tradition of storytelling art used to decorate the island’s temples and the houses of the aristocracy, and serving to convey peace and harmony within Balinese society.
As a child painting was a readily accessible mode of expression, nurturing and playful, a medium through which Kabul could later explore his feelings and ideas about identity and life. “My perspective was different to the traditional cultural identity and I came to understand that I didn’t fit in with the mainstream,” Kabul said. “So I learned to follow my own path.”
He views the material as a living character and is not limited to objects or subjects and viewing technicality as a vehicle in representing the character of every material he used including a visual archive that speaks about histories. Negotiation of existence, appreciation and the equality that are inclusive of the surrounding social environment is his biggest concern.
Charmed by Orientalism and how exotic images led to supposed attitudes and ideas of Bali by westerners, in 2013 Kabul started using an old printing technique to experiment with, and explore his ideas about cultural identity, while creating new inroads in Balinese contemporary art.
In 2017, he was one of the nominees for the International Public Art Price in Hong Kong & won the Tujuh Bintang Gallery (Yogyakarta) Art Award “THE DREAM (The Power of the Dream) in 2009. He has also undertaken residencies at Bamboo Curtain Studio, Taipei, Taiwan (2016), Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan (2012), and TAKSU Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2012). Kuswara lives and works in Bali, Indonesia.