Bali having a diversity of art and culture often becomes an object of research, where one of which is the Balinese painting. Diversity and uniqueness of Balinese painting makes Adrian Vickers, a professor in Southeast Asian Studies and Director of the Australian Center for Asian Art and Archaeology at the University of Sydney, moved to document it in his latest book entitled Balinese Art Paintings and Drawings of Bali 1800 - 2010. Adrian Vickers exposed his latest work in a press conference held by the publisher and sales distributor, Periplus Bookindo, in Mall Bali Galeria Kuta, Badung, on Tuesday (Oct 2).
“Balinese Art” gives new understanding on the history of Balinese painting. The book initiated from a research takes over 30 years to complete. It is the first survey of Adrian Vickers which completely discusses about Balinese paintings first derived from a traditional village until currently develops into a cherished work of art valued expensively in Asia. It is started with a discussion on the aesthetics of Bali Island and how Balinese arts should be seen and understood. This book also discusses about the tradition of painting in the pre-colonial era where some of which are still practiced until today at Kamasan village—the home to classic Balinese artistry. Nevertheless, the main focus of this book is on the development of the new art style begun in 1930s and how this developed rapidly due to the growing interest of foreign tourists that dominated the island in a jiffy.
The Balinese art introduces the readers to a special work existing in Bali and the artists. In the last part of the book, the author describes about the most important and active artists today as well as the media used to introduce their works.
Adrian Vickers admitted to deliberately write a book highlighting the history of Balinese paintings. It was based on some considerations that in a number of other books previously published still had drawbacks. They included the illustrations used were still weak and sometimes they were in poor condition as in the Museum of Painting, Ubud. Besides, the other books more featured the role of foreigners than Balinese people who were frequently discriminated in the history of Balinese paintings.
However, his new book put more highlights on the greatest illustrations and the works of the Balinese themselves and a number of works that had been achieved by the Balinese. According to the author who also wrote the book Bali Tempo Doeloe and History of Modern Indonesia, many inspirations of Balinese painting were also coming from outside Bali. For example, the artist from Buleleng, Ketut Gede, had its own painting style around the 1970s. He said the problem encountered when writing this book was how to separate the advanced and modern Balinese paintings from the paintings for tourism.
Moreover, the influence in the 1950s showed many weaknesses and tendency of Balinese painting style like the Ubud style from 1970s to 1980s was known as Balinese style whereas the style of other artists remained to have a vision about the Balinese paintings. As the process of personification and description of Balinese painting from that year, there were still artists who learned outside Bali such as the maestro Nyoman Gunarsa. Most modern and contemporary Balinese paintings were under influence of these artists who studied in Jogjakarta.
Marketing Manager of Periplus, Anthony Yanuar, affirmed the book written by Adrian Vickers could only be obtained in 14 Periplus outlets across Bali and a number of outlets in Jakarta, Semarang and Yogyakarta. After the launch, the book was targeted to be sold over a thousand copies. The 256-page book worth IDR 495,000 was expected that Balinese people could be proud of and cherish the Balinese painting as well as know the history of the arts becoming the basis for loving the works of Balinese painting. This book was officially launched on October 5 at 7:00 p.m. in the Griya Santrian Gallery, Sanur. (BTN/kmb)