Is It Morning For You Yet?58th Carnegie International


I Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih

I Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih (Murni) (b. 1966, Bali; d. 2006, Bali) had an early life marked by hardship, movement, and profound resilience. After surviving sexual violence as a young girl, she was employed as a domestic worker in Ujung Pandang at the age of ten, a seamstress in Jakarta, and then a jeweler in Bali before she embraced her calling as an artist. In her mid-20s, she trained under the artist I Dewa Putu Mokoh, who taught her the style of the Pengosekan School. Murni, however, remained mainly self-taught as an artist. She eventually honed her own style characterized by strong, curved lines and bright, bold colors, and broke away from traditional themes to embrace her traumatic past and wild, vivid dreams. She painted this all with humor and honesty: sharp objects piercing through erotic body parts, or animals and vegetation morphing into alien-like creatures, for instance. In her world, female subjects unabashedly embrace pleasure; amorphous, grotesque bodies transform from passive to active; and exaggerated erotic body parts appear alive and at times, sacred. Amid a male-dominated art world in which frank expressions of sex and women’s desires were considered taboo, Murni persisted and thrived. Since her premature death in 2006, her works have been praised throughout Southeast Asia for their strength, originality, and ability to transcend stereotypes of other survivors of injustice.

I Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih, Berdadan, 2002, Acrylic on Canvas, 74.5 x 74.5 cm; courtesy of the artist