"Feast of Tongues" Acrylic on canvas, 1999 68" x 48"

Born in Ngawi, East Java in 1965 , the same year that Soeharto came to power in a bloody coup, Bram is one of four children in a family led by an aristocratic Javanese father and a Scottish-Australian mother . His father's family, defeated in the Java War (1825-1830), maintained its privileges from the Dutch colonial era through the Nationalist revolution and well into recent times by retreating to the isolated rural village where Bram was raised and treated like a little prince. He spent his childhood in an extended family that practiced all the traditional Javanese arts: offerings and magic, batik, healing, martial arts, wayang and poetry.

At the age 11, Bram was sent into the raucous urban world of Jakarta to attend high school. He suffered a profound culture shock that sent him reeling into the arms of student gangs and the street life of Jakarta. After two years, fearing for his life, he moved to Yogyakarta in Central Java, the Boston of Indonesia, which he has come to consider his real home. There, Bram became involved with a radical theatre group, Bengkel Theater (the Theatre Garage), headed by the charismatic Javanese poet/actor/director Rendra.

"I didn't go to formal art school," Bram explains. "I learned the way of the Javanese poet from my grandmother, then Rendra and Bengkel Theatre. Bengkel Theatre practiced contemporary theatre with a traditional Javanese soul. Bram could be describing his own bright, bold paintings as well, which draw upon traditional Javanese theatrical characters and masks to convey narratives of contemporary Indonesian realities with a satiric bite. Bram explains, "The art of the Javanese poet may take any form: martial arts, healing, music, dance, and performance. I am a Javanese poet who paintsÉ I believe that the practice of art in daily life (as opposed to the consumption of art) transforms the human spirit in alchemical ways. My art is propaganda for freedom and creativity in my country and everywhere." All his work in this exhibition was part of a one-man exhibition entitled "MASTURBASI REFORMASI" which traveled through Yogyakarta on horse drawn carts in February 1999.