The art of creating miniature images has a long history in Bali, having been passed down over the generations, and dating back to the 9th century. Originally derived from the decorated manuscripts known as the lontars, the small format information of text, symbols and images is inscribed onto pages of dried out lontar leaves, measuring 30cm wide by 5cm. Still in use today, the books reveal sacred knowledge, scriptures, rituals, laws, arts, architecture, and literature, amongst others forms of information.

This historical traditional, miniature style, fused with influences from different genres of Balinese modern traditional art became the foundations of the Keliki School of Miniature Painting, which began in the 1970’s in the Keliki Kawan village, 20 minutes north of Ubud.

The village nowadays boasts more than 300 artists, in a tradition where the master pupil relationship plays an essential role. Two artists, I Ketut Sana (b.1952) and I Made Astawa (b.1953) are responsible for this style that over time evolved to include a community of artists. The village nowadays has more than 300 artists, in a tradition where the master pupil relationship plays an essential role.

In 2011, the Werdi Jana Kerti Artists Association was formed by artists in the Keliki Kawan community, in order to maintain and preserve this unique painting genre. Since 2013 they have exhibited annually at Museum Puri Lukisan, the collective has 75 members, of which 58 are participating, aged from 14-70 years, including 11 women, while 23 of the artists are under 30 years.

TOP (feature image): I Gusti Putu Sudarma – “Bandara Harapan”.  ABOVE: I Putu Adi – “Sejarah Peradaban Cina di Bali” BELOW: Gusti Putu Sudana – “Pulau Bali”

The works feature the signature linear technical of Balinese traditional painting along with the adaptation of the “crowded imagery” made famous by the 1970’s by the Batuan school of painting, and in this exhibition range in size down to a remarkable 12 x 12cm. While most of the themes and imagery exhibited depict the over abundance of the conventions of Balinese art, there are few standout works that reveal the process of change.

Over 60 images of the rekown Balinese modern traditional style of the Keliki School of Miniature Painting, last in the chronological order of Bali’s traditional schools of painting, went on display, 18 April at Ubud’s Museum Puri Lukisan. The works feature the signature linear technique that characterises Balinese traditional painting, along with the adaptation of the “crowded imagery” made famous in the 1970’s by the Batuan School of painting.

In this exhibition works range in size down to a remarkable 12 x 12cm, while most of the themes and imagery depict the abundance of the conventions of Balinese art. There are few standout works, however that represent the process of change, most notably, Bandara Harapan, 2016, by Gusti Putu Sudarma (b.1968), Illegal Logging, 2016, by Putu Kusuma, and Sejarah Peradaban Cina di Bali, by Putu Adi (b.1998).

The Keliki Kawan Exhibition 2017, by the Werdi Jana Kerti Artist’s Association, continues through until 3 June at Ubud’s most important historical museum, Museum Puri Lukisan which is dedicated to charting the development of Balinese traditional painting and woodcarving.

 

Keliki Kawan Exhibition 2017  open daily 9am – 5pm,  

Museum Puri Lukisan, Jalan Raya, Ubud, Bali  –  www.museumpurilukisan.com

 

Words & Images: Richard Horstman – Art activist Richard Horstman (b.1964 Melbourne) first visited Ubud in 1986. The former sculptor is a journalist, writer, art tourism presenter and behind the scenes doer in Bali art scene. Dedicated to contributing to the development of Balinese and Indonesian art, he regularly contributes to the Jakarta Post on a range of art related topics and may be contacted at: lifeasartasia@gmail.com