General. Ubud and the surrounding towns are liberally sprinkled with museums, and flooded with galleries of every size and description, with works of art to suit every taste and pocket, from serious collectors to souvenir hunters. Consult a guidebook for specific locations and some background on Balinese art, then wander through a museum or two to get an idea of the highest levels of accomplishment. Works by many of the artists represented in Ubud's museums are available for purchase in galleries.
The Main Gallery Areas: Jalan Raya, running from the Peliatan cross-roads in the East all the way up to Sayan in the West (milies and miles of art); the main street through Peliatan; Pengosekan Village; Batuan Village; Penestanan Village; and the town of Mas, where the big-name woodcarvers have palatial galleries with impressive facades and enormous signs. Galleries and museums are generally open from 8 or 9 in the morning until 6, every day, except major holidays. Following are selected highlights of the museum and gallery scene. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and you are bound to make your own discoveries, so go explore!
Puri Lukisan is Ubud's "Palace of Art", founded about 40 years ago by a group of artists, and patrons from the Ubud royal palaces. Spearheading its establishment were Tjokorda Gede Agung Sukawati, the last "king" of Ubud, and Rudolph Bonnet, a Dutch painter and ardent supporter of Balinese art. Their purpose was to establish Bali's first secular institution for art, and so to both legitimize and institutionalize art for art's sake on the island. It's set in a peaceful garden with fountains, statues, pools, Paintings are arranged in chronological order, so it's a good place to get a quick orientation in Balinese Art History. (Tel - 975136).
Museum Neka Opened by an avid collector named Neka after touring the world learning about the global art market. Mostly modem works by Balinese, Indonesian and western artists who have worked in Bali. Currently undergoing expansion.
Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) Founded by the charming and handsome Agung Rai, an irrepressible collector and art dealer of great charm and foresight, since he was a small kid. This place is huge, it has a vast collection of Balinese paintings, changing exhibitions, a gamelan orchestra, dance performances on an open-air stage, great gardens, conference facilities, a hip espresso cafe on the edge of vast rice fields with a view of Gunung Agung, and one of the best restaurants in Ubud (cf Cafe ARMA). There's also a library, a shop, conference facilities,and a variety of courses and lectures. Small admission charge, open 9-6 everyday except major holidays.
Museum Purbakala Gedong Area A research museum for scholars which also displays various Balinese antiquities. In a quiet courtyard, a collection of ancient stone sarcophagi stands in mute testimony to ancient burial practices. Just north of Pejeng on the east side of the road to Kintamani.
Agung Rai Fine Art Gallery The same man who created the museum has a fine gallery in Peliatan on the main road. Open 9 - 6 every day. (Tel - 975449). Agung Rai's brother, Agung Raka also has an impressive gallery down the street, on the road to Mas Village, that's well worth a visit. His nephew, Agung Wok manages the gallery, and provides ready assistance and witty commentary on the collection.
Ibah Gallery, in the Ibah Hotel complex, Campuan. This out-of-the way gallery is in the grounds of a bizarrely beautiful hotel, renowned for its idiosyncratic architecture. It has for several months been the showcase for the "Bali Kangin-Kauh Group," a loose association of talented Balinese painters, and one Englishman whose resume includes work on the film Yellow Submayine and illustrations for Pink Floyd. One of the group is Tjok Raka, who incidentally is the owner of Ibah. The word "incidentally' is very intentional here. His merit as an artist is unquestionable, combining deeply religious and mystical inspirations with fine draughtsmanship and an untethered expressionistic hand. Tjok Krisna, another member of the group, works pastels into intricate figurations of the human form and acute observations of the rounds of daily life in Bali. His work uses harmonies of colour and rhythmic strokes to reveal the intricate patterns of energy that structure and animate life.
Komaneka Gallery in Monkey Forest Road was established in early 1997 by Pande Nyoman Wahyu Suteja Neka, the son of the founder of the Neka Museum. The gallery is distinguished by its strikingly simple architecture, which offers a welcome relief from the visual and aural clutter of Ubud's main business district. Contemporary painting by young Indonesian's is the gallery's focus. A group show currently occuppies the downstairs space, while upstairs is devoted to the work of Made Djirna, a young Balinese painter whose work boldly and simply represents its subject matter -- the position and activities of women in modern Bali.
Nyoman Sumertha Fine Art Gallery One of the area's largest and most respected galleries, which showcases some interesting recent discoveries in the Ubud art scene, including Jason Monet, a larger-than-life local character allegedly descended from Claude Monet, the French Impressionist.
Antonio Blanco's House and Gallery, in Campuan, just West of Ubud is not to be missed. This flamboyant eccentric has long been one of Ubud's most beloved characters, since he arrived here many decades ago. His slightly lascivious proclivities are clearly in evidence.
The Seniwati Gallery of Art by Women, a little north of Jalan Raya in Jalan Sriwedari. This association also has a shop in Jalan Raya with art and crafts by local women.
Cafe Tutmak, Jalan Dewi Sita. This funky but sophisticated cafe hangs the work of one carefully selected emerging artist at a time, each exhibition lasting one to six months. Plus a permanently installed work by Lotte Hannetz consisting of full-size dangling chairs which swing overhead in the breeze; a subtle jibe at the Balinese people's excruciating sense of the relative level of things. A chair, which is a place for the human posterior, should by no means be positioned above someone's head! It is also a comment on the Balinese craft industry's propensity for creating inordinate quantities of mobiles. Frequently overheard in Bali: "If I see one more fish mobile, I'm going to puke."
Ulun Ubud "Gustu" Art Studio, Sanggingan, not far from Museum Neka. Gustu himself is a woodcarver and collector of fine antiques, including architectural carvings. His gallery periodically showcases the work of exceptional carvers in the Ubud area, local and foreign.
Pranoto Gallery Jalan Tirta Tawar 34, just North of Jalan Raya, east of the centre of Ubud. An extraordinary selection of work by contemporary Indonesian and overseas artists, including Pranoto himself.
In Jalan Raya, dozens of art dealers welcome browsers and serious buyers into their galleries and art shops. These are highly regarded: Munut Gallery, Neka Gallery (created by the man who made the Neka Museum), Puri Lempad (home of the late Gusti Nyoman Lempad, one of Ubud's most famous painters, who was also a stone carver and architect patronized by the Ubud palaces).
Woodcarving Galleries in MasAs the preeminent centre of woodcarving art, Mas and the adjacent village, Teges, are lined with galleries. Tilem Gallery, Tantra Gallery, Ida Bagus Anom (for masks), and Ida Bagus Sutarja (for masks) are some of the most renowned places, where masterworks are still sold amid decorative pieces which are produced in quantity for the travel memento and mass export market.
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