GUS TOKE was born in Sanur, a beach village on the southeastern end of Bali. In his youth GUS was fascinated by what art can do as a means of communication, and how the many languages of art enable the expression of things that long to be said but cannot be conventionally articulated. This fascination brought him to the Indonesian Institute of the Arts at Denpasar, where he had his formal training. GUS has long since moved to continental Europe. What began as a childhood fascination has accompanied him throughout his life and career as an artist. Exploring the possibilities of artistic expression, of enabling the things around him to speak otherwise remains his greatest source of inspiration.
Today he is known in Bali and beyond. Taking Bali as a unique formative cultural component for the artist, GUS's biographical background can offer some initial insight into his interest in diversity per se, and into the broad range of styles that characterize his work.
The Balinese culture itself is neither Indian nor Chinese nor Hindu, and yet in Bali today traces of these cultures all live in confluence and conversation with one another. From the perspective of cultural heritage, one is tempted to conclude that GUS's biography affords him sensitization to encounters of difference, and that such sensibilities are reflected in his work. Any brief overview of his artwork displays a rich diversity of encounters, whose traces become more or less evident depending on the aesthetic and ideational conversations taking place in a particular piece of work or series. In total, these conversations happen between divergent media, styles, traditions, possible selves and potential ways of seeing the world. Such ways of seeing only become evident by means of their articulation, constituting a visualized statement that might begin with the claim, 'I see the world as…' It is here that one runs into trouble. Preceding any articulation of how one might see the world is a more basic question: What are the possibilities of articulation? Thus the question of what one wants to express becomes a question of what is expressible to begin with. If this is not the first insight to the artist and his work, it is the central one.
As in his own biography, underlying the diversity evident in GUS's work is the question of the expressible. What possibilities of expression do the things around me afford? My own skills, knowledge and experience, but also that which is immediately at hand - materials, media, resonant ideas and imagery - what might they say NOW if freed from the conventions of aesthetic arrangement? Understanding this mode of inquiry as fundamental to the creative process can also provide a clearer vision of the process's continuum or lifecycle, in which practical aesthetic recombination constitutes a never-ending learning-process.
With opening and exploring what is possible through what is present as the sine qua non of GUS's artwork at every stage, finding new ways of aesthetic expression becomes his principle method.