Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) Sculpture is a very iconic center point of Bali. Not just because of how majestic it looked, standing tall in the middle of the beautiful hills area, but also for how long it took for Balinese sculptor Nyoman Nuarta to create GWK’s Hindu god Vishnu statue from start to finish. But who is Nyoman Nuarta? Wonder no more, as we will go in depth with this legendary man.
Nyoman Nuarta, Born in Tabanan, 14 November 1951, Nuarta was brought up in the village by his “Kelihan Adat” ( Village Chief ) uncle. He grew up very close to nature and learned the importance of guarding the harmony between human and The Creator, human with nature and human to human relationship ( Tri Hita Karana ). Hence, most of his artworks reflect this very important Balinesse life philosophy.
Nuarta’s professional career began when he was still a student of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Design, Bandung Institute of Technology ( ITB ). He joined the “Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru Indonesia” ( the Indonesian New Art Movement ) in 1977 and actively participated in the group’s exhibitions. His name started to gain popularity after he won the Indonesia’s Proclamator Monument competition in 1979 just before he graduated from ITB. Nuarta was appointed to build the statue of Soekarno, Indonesia’s first president.
Not long after, Nuarta’s name began to rise to prominence and soon he confirmed his reputation as one of Indonesia’s foremost modern sculptors by creating numerous masterpieces and building monumental statue such as “Arjuna Wijaya” in Jakarta, the 60 meter tall “Jalesveva Jayamahe”, housed in the Naval base complex in Surabaya. In August 2018, right on Indonesia’s Independence Day, he completed his most ambitious project the “Garuda Wisnu Kencana” monument in Bali which stands 121 m above the ground, marking it as the third tallest monument in the world.
The making of GWK was not the easiest. Many challenges he had to face. Starting the GWK project, he even had Balinese protesting the size of the statue, or project funding difficulty. But it did not stop him. After all the hard work, the GWK monument was inaugurated by Indonesian President Joko Widodo in September 2018 and is inarguably one of the most prominent landmarks of Bali.
“He grew up very close to nature and learned the importance of guarding the harmony between human and The Creator, human with nature and human to human relationship (Tri hita karana)”
Nuarta’s contribution in arts and culture has been appreciated in many ways. He was awarded “Ganesha Widya Jasa Adiutama” in 2009and 2018 by Bandung Institute of Technology,“ Satyalancana Kebudayaan ” in 2014 by the President of Indonesia, and received “ Padma Award 2018” in Padma Shri category by the President of India in 2018. His works spread across Indonesia, Asia Pacific, Europe, and many other parts of the world.
When asked ‘what’s next’, his answer was to prepare his solo art exhibition, and to keep creating art for as long as he possibly can. We really admire Mr Nuarta’s spirit, there is no time limit or expiration date for you to keep doing and creating things that you love. Age is not a limit. Everyday is a new day, we all can create new opportunities, and giving up is not an option.