When thinking of Bali’s premier art and cultural destinations, immediately the tourist Mecca of Ubud springs to mind. For those treading the art map, the well-known museums Puri Lukisan, Neka, and ARMA (the Agung Rai Museum of Art) display fine collections of Balinese traditional art, along with some modern and contemporary Indonesian art.
Within the constantly evolving art landscape of Ubud, galleries and art spaces come and go. The post-2008 Indonesian art boom economics has taken its toll and has led to the closure of some renowned fine art galleries in Bali.
In recent years however, private and artist-driven initiatives – art spaces – that operate outside of the commercial gallery model, have become the essential art infrastructure behind the development of contemporary art on the island.
Attracting the non-commercial and experimental artists thriving on dialogue and creativity, art spaces are plugged into social media (vital to the new paradigm of art organizations connecting them 24/7 to the global community, a bonus with the wealth of information available on the Internet). You can check them out via Facebook or Instagram prior to your arrival and Google maps will help in finding the location.
Two icons of Ubud must be mentioned: Sika Contemporary
Fifteen minutes north of Ubud, on Jalan Sri Wedari, Junjungan, on the right side in the rice fields, look out for the big white installation ‘Not For Sale’. Balinese landowner, social activist and artist Gede Sayur along with his friends established Luden House in 2009. Committed to art with a social and environmental conscience, Luden began as an art space and gallery to support the development of contemporary art via exhibitions, workshops and events.
Not For Sale evolved in 2010 in response to the alarming rate of Balinese agricultural land being sold for development and has since grown into a popular social movement, which has secured in marking Luden House on the Bali map. When the Luden family are not organizing events, often for children, they are painting or creating art products from sustainable products and wearables to sell, with a percentage of sales going to local farmers’ associations.
In Penestanan, Cata Odata introduces a new model of infrastructure to Bali, combining artist and gallery management, residency programmes and internships along with exhibitions and a community space for discussions and workshops. Established in 2014, the space is the brainchild of two dedicated and hardworking East Javanese characters: Ratna Odata and Djunaidi Kenyut. Kenyut has many years’ experience as an exhibiting artist, managing events and spaces in Bali and Surabaya. He and Odata promote Indonesian artists based in East Java and Bali while encouraging global connections and exchanges.
Upcoming events include ‘Bare Journal #3’ artist in residency programme. This requires participating artists to create a daily journal, complete with their thoughts, ideas and sketches. These are then exhibited alongside their work to inspire deeper levels of connectivity between artists and the community, while granting insights into the machinations of the artist’s mind. Periodically they offer lodgings for those curious to know more about this young art space and its workings.
The husband and wife team of Balinese artist Budi Agung Kuswara and Singaporean artist Samantha Tio drive Ketemu Project Space in Batu Bulan, 30 minutes south of Ubud. Dedicated to engaging a wider audience and individual sectors of the public arena, Ketemu embarks on large projects drawing upon their local, national and regional networks. Inviting artists and curators to participate in their artists in residency programme, Ketemu’s 2016 project, Merayakan Murni promises to be a landmark event. The occasion will celebrate one of Indonesia’s most important female artists, Balinese painter I GAK Murniasih (1966-2006), who was instrumental in forging new thematic grounds in Balinese and Indonesian art. The project gathers artists and writers to create works in response to the legacy of Murni and will culminate in an exhibition in July.
Launched on January 29 in celebration of the 80th anniversary of the influential Pita Maha artists collective, the TiTian Bali Foundation is located at the TiTian Art Space in Jalan Bisma, Ubud. Driven by a revolutionary vision for Balinese art on the local and global stage, the Chairman of the Board of Advisors of Yayasan TiTian Bali, Soemantri Widagdo says, “TiTian Bali is being founded in an effort to ‘reframe’ the potential of Balinese visual arts with the belief that in order to flourish they need to be integrated into a creative economy.” Aiming to be the leading hub for Balinese visual arts by 2021, Yayasan TiTian Bali is building a new ecosystem for Balinese art for the 21st century through education and new pathways of engagement.
Fast Facts: Ubud’s Art Spaces
Call: +62 81212126096
Location: Opposite the Pura Dalem temple in Penestanan Kelod, Ubud. Look for the big white building on the left.
Features: Quarterly exhibitions and random feisty gatherings. The three-level venue is always open and welcoming. Check out their online store of art products and wearables: www.arcimisi.com
TiTian Bali Art Space
Call: +62 82214400200
Location: Jalan Bisma no. 88, Ubud. Travel way down to the end of Jalan Bisma and look for an aqua blue building on the left side.
Features: An experimental playground and global launch pad for young talented Balinese artists. Backed by local and international foundations with members whose experience is second to none. On display in the gallery is some of the finest Balinese traditional and contemporary art on the island.
Ketemu Project Space
Call: +62 82144097060
Location: Perumahan Taman Asri no. 3A, Batu Bulan, Gianyar. Head east 500 metres along Jalan Batuyang, on the right look for the entry to Perumahan Taman Asri.
Features: A savvy and professional team, with a compact and cosy facility. Regular events open to the public. Out to raise the bar in what’s possible within artist driven spaces in Bali.
Call: +62 8122772137
Location: Jalan Sri Wedari, Junjungan, Ubud.
Features: A grassroots local art experience that brings social and environmental awareness to the fore. Regular events – big and small – a good time is always guaranteed. Look out for the soon-to-open Balinese warung with tasty local delicacies.