Painting as known in the West is not a very old art in Bali. In the old time the Balinese doing more wood or stone carving than painting.
carved temple gates and walls made of soft stone, temple shrines and buildings made of wood, and sculpted overwhelming forms of statues.
Wayang or shadow play tradition is also an important source of the modern painting. For wayang characters the artists drew sketches on leather materials
before cutting them. Other factor that have an influence to Balinese painting is the creation of religious offerings, when the Balinese constructed
delicate art works from bamboo, woods, leaves, rice, flowers and fruits, one form of arts that more or less comparable to installation art today.
An art form that even closer to modern paintings is the black and white picture drawn on white cloth to break the spell of evil spirits and other purposes
called rerajahan in the temple and many magical dance-dramas. Same case is the colorful and golden figures on ceremonial flags, banners and umbrellas,
etc. All those arts had contributed to the gaudy and colorful rituals so common in Bali, and in turn also to the development of fine art.
Kamasan, is the name of a village in Klungkung regency in southeastern Bali. This name has long been associated with one of unique and classical
painting traditions of old Bali. Painting tradition in Kamasan had flourished for more than three centuries. When great Gelgel kingdom in central Bali
moved it's puri or palace to Klungkung in sixteenth century, the artists of the village had been ordered to ornate puris and temples with paintings.
Kamasan artists used colors from nature sources. Black for example, is from charcoal, white from animal bones, other colors came from many leaves or
fruits. This natural material for coloring is still used today especially for the more traditional form of Kamasan paintings.
Meanwhile in Gianyar regency developed art tradition with different styles. They painted wayang style, demons and magical figures taken from old Bali
folklore and Hindu legends. Later they used modern technique and material for coloring. This in part, because of suggestions from some expatriate artists
who visited and lived around Ubud village at the beginning of the twentieth century. They introduced modern materials, such as canvas, ink, acrylic,
water color, etc. More important was the introduction and inspiration given to the Balinese to paint not just mythological themes, but also
everyday lives and scenery. These ideas then influenced some Ubud painters to experiment with new styles of painting. It's resulted to what some
people called Ubud style of painting.
But we'll not just find one style of painting in Ubud area. The styles are maybe as many as the
number of villages scattered around Ubud. There are Pengosekan styles from Pengosekan Village, which is well known for their paintings of birds and trees.
This one of some Pengosekan painting styles became popular for hotels, offices, and homes, not just in Bali and Indonesia, but also abroad.
In Penestanan village developed painting style known as Young Artist. This naive and colorful painting encouraged by Arie Smith, a Dutch artist who live in
Bali. Young Artist painters utilized unusual color for their objects, such as red for the sea, blue for human skin, yellow for the sky, etc.
There is Batuan style, from the artist village of Batuan, which generally have darker type of images compared to Ubud paintings. The quality and charm of
this Batuan painting style is well recognized. Mural painting in a sport center in Japan is featuring giant painting tens of meters wide, which was
painted a few years ago by Batuan artist I Wayan Bendi. Visit home of other painter of Batuan village, I Made Budi, and we'll see one letter from
Ronald Reagan, former US president.
Other painting center with it's unique style in Ubud vicinity, is banjar Tebesaya of Peliatan village.
Here we'll find great names of Balinese painters, one of them is Ida Bagus Made Poleng, who is known by every Balinese art lovers as a quite tough and
eccentric person who never want to sell his paintings to galleries, until his departure.
In Ubud we'll find as well modern and academic paintings, which is increasing in quantity and quality. To find this type of art, visit art
galleries and museums around Ubud.
For art lovers, Ubud and the villages around it is a natural as well as surrealist beauty.
ON PALM LEAF
In Bali is also popular the art of painting on palm leaves. This art form featuring wayang as well as other traditional Balinese characters cut with
chisel on the palm leaves. This drawing then painted black using locally found natural materials. The result is a book consist of a story with beautiful
figures and narration.
Bali Aga village (old Bali village which still hold it's ancient tradition) of Tenganan in Karangasem
regency, eastern Bali, is particularly strong in this form of art. There is even a painting on many palm leaves arranged as a single wide canvas,
resulting in a painting with size around 50 x 60 square centimeters.
Bali is not just an ideal place for fine art hunting. It's also a paradise for art lovers who just want to watch and admire. There are some fine
art museums in Bali which are among the finest in Indonesia.
For Kamasan Style, visit Nyoman Gunarsa Museum of
Classical Balinese Painting in Banjar Angkan, Banda village, Klungkung. In Mas village near Peliatan there is Rudana Museum of traditional Balinese naive
and modern paintings. The collections are overwhelming and many of them are in excellent quality. In Pengosekan village near Peliatan and
Ubud, visit a grand and beautiful Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) which featuring classical Balinese paintings as well as Christie's record breaking
quality level paintings such as from Raden Saleh and Walter Spies. There is also Ratna Wartha, the first fine art museum in Ubud. Established in 1953 to
promote the idea of Pita Maha artist association which was established in 1932, this museum exhibits some of Bali's classical paintings and carving.
Meanwhile Neka museum, is one of the most complete Balinese art museum in term of the number and variety of collections. It's collections including
modern paintings, classical as well as paintings of expatriate artists of the thirties. It is Located 1
kilometer west of holy Campuan river of Ubud.