Urban Art in Bali

12Art has always been an integral part of Balinese society. It is an art of Hindu-Javanese origin that grew from the work of artisans of the Majapahit Kingdom. This was during the expansion of the kingdom into Bali in the late 13th century. The advent of western artists early in the 1900’s proved a turning point in the direction ands style of Balinese painting, however, the traditional essence remained. The two main centres for art in Bali are Ubud and Batuan and renowned worldwide for this form.

As tourism grew to the point where now Bali is practically the number one destination for westerners in South East Asia, so did the influence of another form of art; urban art. Travel anywhere across the archipelago of Indonesia and you will notice in the major cities creative art sprawled across walls and underpasses. Some is purely political and evolved during the Soeharto era. I don’t mean your stupid ‘tagging’ or un-arty scribble that to my mind is pure vandalism.

22Expressive art is the art of youth and is in itself just that; art. Of course you will see a lot of vandalistic tagging in the streets of Kuta and Denpasar, in fact most places you go across the island. But, there is that expressive art that can be found and pleasing to the eye. A lot of people merely look at expressive art, or as it is known; urban art, as being grafitti and a pure of vandalism. I totally disagree with this path of thought. Urban artists are artists in their own right. It is just another art form using a different canvas.

Besides the street urban art that can be found in Bali, there is also the form of urban sculptural art. The best two pieces of this I have seen on Bali are located in the Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) in Jimbaran. These are two statues of bulls creatively painted and in my thought, stunning pieces of urban art.

Besides the ones in the images displayed on this page there are many more around the tourist areas. Have you found any that appeal to your eye? If so, then please let me know where they are and I will include them in a follow-up article.