Art Guide

Charging into the Year of the Ox

With the Lunar New Year fast approaching, let us grab 2021 by its horns and chase after our goals!

You are reading Charging into the Year of the Ox

By Mae
In 2020, we have all been pushed to adapt to significant changes by re-structuring our lives and how we interact with each other. While it has been an arduous and trying year, 2020 has finally come to an end, and we are happy to leave it behind!

Tjokorda Bagus Wiratamaja, Piercing the fog, Acrylic on Canvas, 150 x 200cm. 

2021 is the year of the Ox. As the second of all Zodiac animals in the Chinese lunar calendar, the Ox is a highly valued animal for its positive traits and important role in agriculture. Exploding with energy, the Ox is highly regarded in Chinese culture as a symbol of capability and strength. With unwavering faith, diligence and determination, people believe that the Ox is an inspiration of confidence and reliability. 

The Ox also has a significant meaning in Western cultures. At the cornerstone of Wall Street in New York City, a golden brass sculpture of a charging bull faces the Financial District. Representing courage and strength, the bull was created by artist Aruto Di Modica, and it stands for a strong and favourable economy - a bull market sees share prices rising, making investors confident and optimistic, along with high employment levels. 

Charging Bull, Aruto Di Modica, New York

The Ox is also known to bring luck to a variety of cultures such as the Egyptian and East Indian people. From bringing good health to welcoming an abundance of wealth, the Ox is an auspicious emblem that is admired across cultures. 

“The Bull is a symbol of strength, persistence and a seeker
of sociality in human life.” - Tjokorda Bagus Wiratmaja

The strength and persistence of the Ox is a fertile source of inspiration for Indonesian artist Tjokorda Bagus Wiratamaja. Expressing animal characters as a representation of human society, Tjokorda uses vibrant colours and a combination of textures to bring his animals to life. The energy and strength of his charging bulls materialise through a variety of techniques like impasto, sand painting and dripping, often in one single painting! Through his bold and passionate expression, Tjokorda masterfully gives ode to both the dominating physical and the emotional spiritual presence of the Ox.

Tjokorda gave us an exclusive sneak peek into his passion and creative inspiration as an artist in a recent interview: 

Ode to Art: What does the bull symbolise to you? 

Tjokorda: To me, the bull is a symbol of financial strength and luck. 

What do you hope to communicate through your art? 

I feel like people are getting more and more materialistic, and aiming for a better life, which is admirable. This higher status, that a lot of people are trying to reach and to pass on to their children, requires a lot of hard work, which is why I choose to paint a bull. Its strength and grit is what we need to achieve our goals and support our families. 

When and why did you start painting animals - particularly the bull? How do you feel they are a representative of humans? 

I found my passion for animals in 1999 and have loved everything animal-related ever since. Their behaviour, their societies, but also the way they are made: their shapes and colours that are so diverse throughout the entire animal kingdom are a continuous source of inspiration to me, until this day. 

You mix a lot of different techniques in your paintings - what inspires your process and is experimentation an important part of your work? 

Yes, the technique is very important to me, especially the texture. My technique has become an identity that art lovers recognize me by. I have never claimed an identity or an art movement for myself, but I am happy that viewers are able to recognize my work and identify it by the technique and texture. This is what makes me passionate about my work. I love nothing more than developing my own style, and experimenting with techniques. I will always explore different ways to portray the variety found in Nature with my bright and intense vibrant colours. 

How do you feel knowing that this year in the Lunar Calendar is the Year of the Ox? Do you feel particularly inspired? 

The Year of the Ox, I thought it was very fitting. I hope the bulls I paint represent and reflect our current society: an era where people must persevere and never give up to make ends meet. Struggling with time. Only through creativity and the will to thrive will ensure success in future adversities. But as the previous year has proven, we can face anything, we just need the strength and perseverance.

"Next, I want to paint a big bull painting with the bulls competing against each other... Now, that would be cool!"

As the Year of the Ox arrives, let’s bravely charge forth into the new year!

Learn more about Tjokorda and his work here, or, if you are inspired by this Lunar New Year, read our CNY-inspired art guide or browse our CNY art collection, curated especially for you!

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