Travel Through Time
Komang Ary, Owner of Komang Ary Indonesian arts gallery, talks about his passion in collecting antiques to help preserve the country’s historical objects...
Nestled in Lodtunduh Village in Ubud, Komang Ary Indonesian Arts Gallery is home to age-old art objects from statues, textiles, artefacts, paintings and more. All are sourced across the archipelago. For owner Komang Ary (KA), this gallery does not only serve as a place to display his collection but also as a way to help introduce Indonesian historical arts to the world and preserve them for future generations. To Bali & Beyond (BB), he shares the importance of protecting national treasures...
BB: What made you interested in antiques?
KA: I’ve been interested in antiques since 2004 when I was only 22 years old. I think my love for antiques is in my DNA. I am the descendant of dalang (puppet masters), keris makers (traditional blacksmiths) and Topeng dancers.
BB: What made you decide to open Komang Ary Indonesian Arts Gallery? What where the challenges when opening the gallery?
KA: This gallery is more than just a business for me, it is also my medium to express my hobby and passion in antiques and arts. It is a place to show my devotion to quality artworks. The gallery was opened in 2005. There were no significant challenges during the pre-opening because I was merely driven by my love towards these historical objects.
However, the first challenge I found was to introduce these antiques, especially Balinese antiques, to the younger generation and local tourists because they often think that these beautiful centuries-old heritage artefacts from our ancestors are “out of date”, which is understandable due to modernization. International tourists are more enthusiastic probably because they know the importance of understanding the culture of a nation and it makes them appreciate these artworks more.
BB: What are your visions and missions in opening the Komang Ary Indonesian Arts Gallery?
KA: My mission is to make the younger generation fall in love with Indonesian antiques. I hope they are also encouraged to preserve and appreciate the high values and history of the objects. As an art dealer, I believe I have the responsibility to save and preserve antiques. When I go hunting for antiques in the villages, I often find people don’t really understand the historical values in these items and therefore they are not interested in preserving them. Old artefacts are often forgotten and easily replaced with new ones. The old ones are either damaged due to the weather or destroyed by people – some are burnt while others are thrown away into the ocean.
BB: What are your wishes for Indonesian arts and history through this gallery?
KA: Not only do I wish to preserve historical objects, I also want to encourage people to have a good sense of art and appreciate it. I believe our appreciations of historical arts is one of the foundations that makes us a great nation.
BB: Your collection is sourced from across the archipelago, not just from Bali. How do you collect them?
KA: To collect historical objects from outside of Bali, I used to go hunting in certain areas. However, it’s quite challenging because I often encounter technical problems and it’s not really safe because there are bandits in several areas. So, I decided to build a system in Bali to help me collect arts and artefacts from all over Indonesia. The result is beyond my expectation as this system often helps me find Indonesian historical objects in other countries and return them home to Indonesia.
BB: Do you have a personal favorite collection?
KA: My personal favorite collection is everything that is related to death and black magic in the old days, like the door of a tomb from Toraja which is really rare as it has a human (an ancestor) figure. I also have an ancient Balinese statue that I got from a balian (Balinese healer or shaman) who used to practice black magic.
This may sound odd, but for me, death is not the end but rather a beginning to infinity and enlightenment. There are a lot of ancient cultures in the world, including in Indonesia, that considers death rituals as more important than other ceremonies, like weddings. Some Indonesian tribes have a special death ritual, like the Toraja in South Sulawesi, Batak in North Sumatra, and Bali.
BB: Do you have a message for Indonesian younger generation to encourage them in preserving local culture?
KA: I’m not anti-modernization or against western culture – I still listen to their music too although not as often as I enjoy local art. I just find it strange for Indonesians – especially Balinese because I’m a Balinese – to know western culture better than their own. Our culture is a legacy from our ancestors that becomes our identity, and it breaks my heart that it is often considered “old” or “out of date”. I believe that we have to know and understand our own “home” first before we know other people’s home.
Komang Ary Indonesian Arts Gallery
Jalan AA Gede Rai, Lodtunduh, Village, Ubud
By Risty Nurraisa
Magazine issue > Profile&Potrait