About the artist

Born in Bandung, Java in 1956, Yan Suryana has been a professional artist since 1980. An exhibition with Affandi in 1986 was a turning point, after which his work became more powerful and popular as his distinctive style continued to evolve. Self-taught, Yan traveled extensively throughout Indonesia to study the diverse people, cultures and customs of his country for inspiration. He lived for two years in Austria and has traveled extensively in Europe and America.

The artist settled in Bali because of the legendary island’s strong connection to art, and the inspiration he draws from the endless color and drama of Balinese daily life. “Wherever you look, there is art,” he enthuses. “It is in everything – in the dances, the ceremonies, the offerings. Bali is living art.” Yan now lives in the village of Petulu near Ubud in Bali, Indonesia with his Austrian wife.

Yan Suryana’s paintings grace the homes of collectors in Indonesia, Europe, Australia, and USA.

A palette of winter grays and whites is occasionally present in Suryana’s paintings, but after viewing his work, it becomes obvious that this is not what the artist is known for. His canvases are bursting with vibrant pinks, yellows, oranges, blues and greens.

The people he portrays - which are the real focal points of his paintings - wear their brightly patterned costumes proudly and passionately. Suryana’s bold, exotic, tropical colors are his trademark. He presents the Balinese people - women with long, flowing black hair and men with peaceful, soulful, intelligent looks that people who live in small villages often possess - in an intimate and loving way. Suryana is respectful, almost admiring, of his Balinese people.

Pictures of Yan Suryana

About the work

Yan Suryana’s work is characterized by bold, powerful compositions and intimate vignettes of daily life, ritual and culture. Yan’s depiction of Balinese life is intense yet disarming. His works celebrate the spirit and mysticism of this exotic island.

Yan’s large canvasses feature graceful figures intent on daily activities, devotional and enraptured temple dancers and voluptuous, dreaming nudes. Some paintings tell a story, others highlight the foibles of human nature. All of Yan’s works seem to effortlessly capture the richness and essence of Balinese life.

A trademark of his work is the strong use of colour, applied with a palette knife. This technique was inspired by his two-year sojourn in Austria.

Yan uses muted but accurate detail in representing the heavy textures of the traditional fabrics worn in daily life and for ritual dance. The subtle, luminous Indonesian skin tones glow through the intricate lace blouses (kebaya) worn to temple ceremonies by Balinese women. The rich tactile quality of Yan’s treatment of cloth contrasts with and accentuates the translucent tones of skin and flesh.

Yan’s work is also set apart by the treatment of his subjects’ eyes. All are depicted with an inward gaze that seems to express peacefulness and devotion. The women’s heavy-lidded eyes are often painted with the vibrant blues and reds that are applied for temple ceremonies. Yan’s figures magically convey humour, interest and love without ever opening their eyes fully to the viewer.

Yan’s work is inspired by his travels in Europe and America and by his village in Bali, his Austrian wife and his children.

His work has been exhibited in:

Indonesia: 1986-1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012
Austria: 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2011, 2014
Switzerland : 1996
Germany: 2000, 2005, 2011, 2013, 2014
United States: 1997, 2004, 2005
Australia: 2012

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