Bali Art & Craft
Bali is a market place for arts and crafts from Indonesia. This situation, a modern development, illustrates how effective has been the process of national and economic integration in the last 50 years. Pottery comes from Lombok, leather works from Java, weavings mainly from the Lesser Sunda islands, batik from Java, "colonial" furniture from Madura and eastern Java, baskets from Borneo etc. To this Indonesian heritage should be added, increasingly, the role played by foreign semi-resident designers, who have adapted the ethnic products of the country to the taste of the European, American and Japanese markets. Without much exaggeration, it can be said Bali is now an international production center of designers items, even though many of these are made under private agreements and, thus, are "illegal" . The day this activity will protected instead of being merely tolerated and on the fringe of the law, Bali may well gain a name not only as a "paradise" island, but as a fashion and design paradise.
Balinese Arts & Crafts
The scope of the arts and crafts of Bali proper is much more limited than the above- mentioned, which are almost impossible to inventory Apart from weaving and plating, much of Balinese art has its origin in the Balinese-Javanese courts. When the Majapahit empire subjugated Bali in 1343, its warriors were accompanied by families of artists and craftsmen's families who opened settlements near their courts. They thus brought to small Bali the high tradition of the Javanese maritime empire, and this tradition has flourished ever since.
These arts and crafts, even when not religious in function, had always a religious aspect or content to them. Carving, for example, illustrated stories from the Indian mythology; no artist would engage a work without a proper:
ceremony nor without choosing a propitious day; each wood had a magical quality and should be used for only a certain type of sculpture. This world remained largely untouched until the beginning of the century, when the Dutch decided to make of Bali the jewel of their crown. Twenty years later, the first tourists arrived. The art production has since been reoriented toward this new market.
Much has been written on Balinese sculpture and on the support role played by the two Western "discoverers" o Balinese art, the painter-musician Walter Spies (1895-1942) and the Dutch drawer R. Bonnet (1895-1977), who born settled in Bud in the late 20s. By a combination of encore agreement, direct material assistance and marketing initiative they contributed to the new style in Balinese fine arts why appeared in the pre-war years.
The historical details of the renewal of sculpture are well-known. Spies gave a sculptor, I Tegalan, a long piece of wood and commissioned him two sculptures out of it. But I Tegalan, who found it a pity to cut in two such a beautiful piece of wood, made a single elongated carving out of it. Spies was so enthusiastic that he took further orders.
The elongated style was born, and with it, the "technique" which consists in using the inherent potential to the shape of wood to create a sculpture. To this innovation was added a new way to work wood. Instead of being painted, it was either polished or kept in its rough state. Freed from the constraints of the religious iconography, Balinese sculpture experienced an exceptional surge in creativity. Two schools of sculpture have emerged from these changes: the first, centered in Mas, accentuates the level of craftsmanship displayed.
The form is elongated or, on the contrary, stunted; and the surface polished. The master of the genre was Ida Bagus Nyana. His son, Ida Bagus Tilem, pushed further the use of the aesthetics of the material by underlining the irregularities and rottenness of wood to create gnarled figures with a strong expressive quality The works of both sculptors are on exhibition in Mas. The other school was created by Cokot, a carver from the Tegalalang area. Unlike his colleagues from Mas, he did not polish the surface of his works. Working on huge wooden trunks, he used the shape of the branches to bring forth the primitive under-layer of Balinese culture, its demonic monsters and spirits of nature. Many sculptors of the Tegalalang/Sebatu area have now taken up the primitive style initiated by Cokot These two style are historically the most important in Balinese sculpture, but other genres ought to be mentioned: Batubulan produces softstone works of gods and demons, Teges has made a specialty out of hyper-realist animals, and the Tegalalang area has become huge workshop for false banana trees, flowers etc, not to mention the wooden jewels or chess boards made in the Tampaksiring area, the wooden panels of Batuan and the many sculptors scattered around the island For wooden masks, the most famous villages are. Singapadu,Mas and Batuan.
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