Ubud is truly an arts center, and one unique museum of an original foreign artist, is the Blanco Renaissance Museum (or Museum Blanco).
The Blanco Renaissance Museum, is located a couple of hundred yards before Symon’s Art Zoo on the way to the Neka gallery. For those coming from Ubud simply follow Jl. Raya Ubud towards Campuhan and Museum Blanco is on the left side, close to the Penestenan turnoff.
Arriving at the front gate, you see an impressive sign, and then pass through an archway, which gives the place a certain grandeur. At the top of the driveway, is an office selling tickets which are 20,000rp, and a security guard, to help with parking. You pay and receive a small brochure.
Through the circular entrance way that leads to the garden area, you walk through to a lovely garden, and the actual entrance to the museum building. The whole outside area is a carefully manicured, and the place looks like it belongs to someone of note. Peacocks wander around outside the main staircase, and the large piece of artwork that straddles it.
Antonio Blanco was from Catalonia Spain, although he was born in Manila in 1911, coming to Bali in 1952. The brochure explains how he acquired a hilltop chunk of land, built his studio and married a famous Balinese dancer, named Ni Ronji.
Entering the bottom level of the museum, the guard will tell you photography is banned. Its still possible to grab a few shots when you are along inside.
The building is circular and brightly decorated in bold colors. The artwork consists of oil paintings of nude Balinese women which seems to be Blanco’s favourite subject. Indeed the brochure says ‘He has artistically expressed his adoration of women as God’s most beautiful creature through his bombastic artwork of singularity in expressionist-romantic style.’ Whatever. He likes to paint beautiful women who are in sensual poses, not just nudes. For me its actually nice to see the work of a heterosexual artist for a change. To sum up his style I’d say he has a somewhat minimalist element, in that he uses fading lines to highlight shape, which blend into background. He can definitely paint though, and the faces and expressions of the models come through. He’s even got nude paintings of his daughters.
The second level had more Balinese nudes and the top level is open air, affording a view of the surround hills. The roof area is decorated with golden statues.
In the same building as the museum is his painting studio, with the equipment set up, and some works lining the perimeter. When asked, the lady who worked there said she had met Blanco, who died in 1999 aged 88, and that his paintings were done to show the inner beauty of women and were not sexually based. I think I am going to become an artist, you can get away with murder. When a man tells a woman, he’s only interested in her inner self, he’s lying. He might find out about her inner self sometime later, but he wants to check out the outside first.
Blanco definitely sees himself as something of a legend, and next door is another viewing room, also part of the Blanco Studio. This has David Hockney style’ pieces, that include photo’s from Playboy, and suggestive poetry by ‘the Maestro’, as the brochure refers to him. Its pretty entertaining, and there’s no doubt this guy had women on the brain, most of the time.
Blanco’s son Mario, also has a Studio on site, featuring oil paintings of everyday Balinese items, such fruits and religious implements. He can also paint, and the skills have been passed along. Outside Mario’s Studio is a gamelan set up. The Blanco Renaissance Museum has the following areas for visitors to meander:
Blanco Renaissance Museum
•What is it?
A museum dedicated to the paintings and artwork of Antonio Blanco.
•Where is it?
•How long does it take to get there from Kuta?
About 90 minutes.
•What is the best thnig about it?
Probably the decadent way in which the art is displayed, and Blanco’s sense of mischief.
Open daily from 9am – 5pm
•Areas & Facilities:
Museum, Blanco Studio, Mario Studio, Gallery, Bird Park, Family House, Restaurant, Amphitheater, Family Temple, Gift Shop.
•How long does it take to view the museum?
You could check the whole place out in 2 hours with ease.
•Who would the Blanco Renaissance Museum be good for?
People who like a sense of humor, a touch of naughtiness, or just weird. People looking for a slightly alternative art museum.
•Who would the Blanco Renaissance Museum not be good for?
People who like fine art, who are serious about art, or who are looking for real Balinese art.
•Dangers & Annoyances:
Officially there is no photography inside. On the top level, which is open air, young kids might try to climb up on the balcony wall.