Monday, August 23, 2010

Bali High - Art in Ubud

As I have mentioned countless times, Ubud is considered Bali's artistic nerve center. I love taking in local art and museums when I travel, so I was thrilled to take in Bali's cultural offerings. Imagine beautiful art in magical tropical surroundings, and you've got a sense of what Ubud is like. Walking down the streets of Ubud, there is no lack of art galleries and craft shops to stop in and browse. Whether it's stone or wood carvings, paintings, sculpture or jewelry, there is at least a day's worth of art to see.

Ubud is actually home to the Neka Art Museum, considered the best museum in Bali (not to be confused with the Neka Gallery on Jalan Raya Ubud (Ubud Main Street)). The Neka Museum is a short drive outside of the main streets of central Ubud to Campuhan. The museum exhibits both traditional and contemporary art representing everything from well-known Hindu themes to scenes of modern Balinese life.

The Neka Museum was actually our first stop anywhere in Ubud. After being scared of some major pouring rain when we arrived night before and all the following morning and praying that this wasn't going to be the weather for our trip, this was a nice indoor hang out option until the sun came out and was already on my list of "must dos" while in Ubud.

This is just the lobby

The museum itself was beautiful, never mind the artwork. Here's Husband J taking a look at this stunning doorway.

The museum consists of six or so free-standing buildings containing different periods, styles or themes in Balinese art history.

Here are some of most intriguing pieces from the museum (at least to me anyway):

A close-up of the painting above. This is oil + acrylic on canvas

One of my favorite sculptures in the museum. Each finger represents a different aspect of human nature. For example, the thumb is a mother which signifies nurturing. The middle finger is someone with a full stomach representing the human tendency to be gluttonous. Fascinating, huh?

While walking through the museum, we started to hear some happy, light xylophone-like music. When we came into the central courtyard area linking all of the individual rooms of the museum together, we noticed a man playing what the Balinese call a rindik. He was nice enough to give me a quick lesson. First of all it's WAY harder than it looks and required MUCH more concentration that I thought it would, but I ended up playing a song with him afterall. Lots of fun!

In Ubud it's not only fun to take in some of the visual arts but also to see live cultural performances. There are traditional Balinese music dance shows almost every night. Don't worry about trying to find out about one; they'll find you. There are folks on the street hawking tickets to shows right in central Ubud. While we were there there were shows on the main temple on Monkey Forest Road, but we ended up seeing a show in Pura Sarswati.

That night, we were lucky to see a local all-women's music and dance troupe.

Rock on, ladies!!

Having danced myself for some time in the past, I've always been a fan of seeing different dance forms. Balinese dance does not have a lot of flourishes and large movements. It's much more subtle and much of the drama and conveying emotion comes through small and subtle eye and head gestures.

One of the women performing a welcome dance

A dance to glorify the bravery and strength of the Balinese soldier

When planning our trip to Bali, I knew that I wanted to explore as much of the culture of the island that I could. Ubud offered all of that and more.


bienlivingdesign said...

(I am breaking my no Name/URL Blogger comment "rule" & signing in via Wordpress for this post!)

What an incredible trip! Indonesia was our original honeymoon, thwarted by $350 tickets to Dublin. Ireland was amazing, but your trip looks so fantastic! I love the hand sculpture the best as well - pretty fascinating!

Layla said...

Wow, everything and everyone there is so beautiful. You make me want to get over my fear of travel!

BigAppleNosh said...

Looks fascinating! That hand sculpture is awesome!

Creature Gorgeous said...

Breathtaking! One day I hope to go!! You look adorable, by the way!

kristi said...

Ubud is the center of art in Bali.
There are a lots of Bali luxury villas too in Ubud


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