by Catriona Mitchell

Java-born, Ubud-based painter Joe Mintardja has a studio near Bali Buda in Jalan Jembawan, and visiting him is to be surrounded by the crowded wonders of his imagination.

Joe is inspired by the great masters of Europe – particularly Michelangelo and Hieronymous Bosch. He doesn’t set out to paint for commercial goals, though he does exhibit internationally; instead, it is more important to him to paint “from the heart”.

JoeMintardjaScarf1smallAt the studio, where paintings are everywhere stacked against the walls, Joe works in short, focused bursts, kneeling before the canvas with reverence almost as if it were an altar. He breaks every 30 minutes for a cup of Bali coffee and a cigarette, leaning back on two legs of a chair to observe what he has done from a distance.  Then he’ll resume, re-entering his private zone of concentration, seemingly oblivious to the sounds drifting in the open windows: the gentle thwack-thwack of snooker-balls colliding on the green felt of the table just outside his door, accompanied by the laughter of his friends; women calling out to one another as they go about their chores in the neighbouring compound, while chickens squawk underfoot.

Joe works with speed and unwavering confidence; it’s clear that he was born to paint.

Below, you’ll see a “mini-exhibition” of Joe’s paintings – some are the full-scale works and others are details. Enjoy the show!





If you’d like to contact Joe, he’s at


Or, you may well bump into him around town: he’s hard to miss, with his dramatic good looks and waist-length hair. When not at work in his studio, he’s often to be spotted in Ubud’s coffee shops, or behind the wheel (or hood!) of a classic blue Mercedes.


For a further insight into Joe’s studio, you might like to see our short video Joe Mintardja at his Studio. It shows Joe at work in his studio, starting with a blank canvas and no notion of what he will paint, and displaying (in abbreviated form – cut down to 4 minutes) what he can produce within half an hour. It’s fascinating to watch him in action.

Photographs by Catriona Mitchell

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