Art Gallery - exhibition Bali - Tropenmuseum

From anonymous art to signed works

Balinese art in abundance

These days Bali has a wealth of art. But in the past that wasn’t the case. Traditionally Balinese artists only created works for temples and palaces, but that all changed in the colonial era. 

The exhibition’s art gallery features a wide variety of contemporary Balinese art alongside art from the 19th century. The variation illustrates the development of art on Bali and shows the principal themes of the time both then and now, such as Hindu scenes. 

Although artists developed their own style, prior to the 19th century their work was anonymous. They worked on commission for the island’s various rulers, taking Hinduism as their principal theme. But after 1930 everything changed, when they started selling their art to tourists. Artists developed a highly individual style and their work evolved into an expression of their own ideas and feelings. 

Art Gallery - Bali - Foto: ©KIRSTENVANSANTEN

Art as protest

The exhibition introduces visitors to various examples of Balinese art executed by different artists over the years. One such artist is I Wayan Aris, who protests against the sell-out of Bali. Through his painting, Bali, sold out! he expresses his support of the demonstrations on Bali against the planned land reclamation near Benoa. This million-dollar project to accommodate mass tourism would wreak havoc on the natural environment, protestors say.  

Artist Made Bayak creates art from all kinds of plastic objects he finds on the island. His works include Sanghyang and the secret of Pertiwi dance and Protect our land, yard and culture. Both works are on show in the exhibition.