Thank you to the team from the Art Lounge and fabulous local artist Gun Fals for taking the time to talk to us about their passion. Flores is leading the way with community endeavours and projects, showcasing its talented people and stunning landscapes on the world stage.
Thanks for chatting with us Gun – we are so impressed by your work. How long have you been painting and what’s your inspiration?
I’ve been involved in painting since 2014. I was inspired to paint as an opportunity to work really, since there were no other painters in my area. I’m from kampung Bangka Lewat, Kuwus District, west Manggarai. I paint mostly based on my clients demands or requests, but mostly they ask for realist painting. Personally, I prefer expressionist painting.
And now to the team behind the Art Lounge, how long has the Art Lounge been open and what was the inspiration behind it?
The Art Lounge, which started in January 2019, was started by and belongs to Ibu Arino who runs a souvenir shop beneath the lounge which is called Asri Souvenirs. She is a lovely lady and friend and we wondered if we could help her develop her business in some way. For some time, we had wanted to combine an interest in the arts with some kind of environmental and local community focus. The chance to pseudo curate a small gallery to focus primarily on local artists with an environmental message has proved ideal. Taking it further and partnering through the Ahoy Bar & Cafe next door to provide food and refreshments to customers in the Art Lounge, now means there is a zero stress environment for people to come and have a social drink and a bite while enjoying a free gallery with no pressure to buy. There will soon be art supplies for sale as well with the objective of being a hub for local artists to gather.
With so many talented local artists in Flores, what is the process for them being involved in the Art Lounge?
The general manager of Ahoy is Gagah Herjuno and he project manages the collaboration with the Art Lounge, including contacts with artists so anyone interested in submitting pieces or being the feature artists, should contact him through Ahoy bar. There is no rigid criteria for being included as an exhibitor or artist-in-residence, so regardless of the artistic medium used, anyone should feel free to contact us as the gallery can support paintings, photography, indoor and outdoor sculptures, video, music and even small scale dances. There is a preference for modern art as there are plenty of traditional art and craft outlets but none for modern artists.
For visitors to the area, can they buy the art and potentially meet the artist in exhibition?
Each exhibition has a small launch event with the artist present and the vast majority of art is for sale. This is so important for the artists as most will be using the exhibitions to fund their next collections or for materials to continue developing their work.
Obviously it's early days, but do you see the Art Lounge becoming more of cultural hub of sorts for artists in Flores?
Absolutely. Modern artists in particular have nowhere to go and there is no opportunity for visitors to even know there is such a scene in Labuan Bajo.
Do you have plans for larger exhibitions with multiple artists or do you prefer one artist at a time?
There really is no rule for this but given the size of the lounge, it’s not practical to have more than two major exhibitions at a time - although short pop-up exhibits are a fun concept currently being explored. Perhaps a special weekend photography exhibit of marine life or local nature could be cool. All ideas welcome!
How do you locate the artists and get them involved and interested in exhibiting their talents?
Although there is a small network of artists locally we are hoping there will also be hidden gems who are undiscovered, that will become aware of the Art Lounge simply by the fact it is now live. Fingers crossed they will come forward or their friends will encourage them to do so and they can take their place alongside their compatriot artists.
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