Sinta Tantra’s geometric paintings, drawings and sculptures are the subject of the latest exhibition, ‘The Light Club of Batavia’, at Sir John Soane’s country retreat, Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing, where the artist has installed her large- and small-scale works throughout the historic house.
Taking inspiration from a 1912 novel, the British artist of Balinese descent has combined existing work with newly commissioned pieces that play into Soane’s signature use of light in his architecture. 'His use of glazed windows and framed arches sculpt the light so beautifully, especially here at Pitzhanger, a space where light is both celebrated and enjoyed,' Tantra explains.
Using Prussian blue, gold and brass, Tantra has exploited the play of light in the manor, her botanical abstractions creating a beautiful ambience in dialogue with the drama of the space. The title of the exhibition is taken from a novel by Paul Scheerbart, Batavia being the colonial name for the Indonesian capital Jakarta, during Dutch Rule.
'In my practice, being Balinese and an Indonesian, I'm interested in exploring history through a post-colonial lens. Looking at the darker side of what may initially be seen as beautiful and captivating,' she says. 'Central to this exhibition, the gold leaf symbolises universal beauty, beauty throughout the ages – a celebration of light, colour, and positive energy. And yet, it is also linked to power, vanity, and extraction – a cost to both human lives and the ecology of the earth, humans plundering this limited resource.'
‘Sinta Tantra: The Lightclub of Batavia’ is curently on view at Pitzhanger Manor, alongside British artist Alice Irwin’s show ‘Chinwag’.
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Amah-Rose Abrams is a British writer, editor and broadcaster covering arts and culture based in London. In her decade plus career she has covered and broken arts stories all over the world and has interviewed artists including Marina Abramovic, Nan Goldin, Ai Weiwei, Lubaina Himid and Herzog & de Meuron. She has also worked in content strategy and production.
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