Balinese Art is rightly famous the world over for its colour and boldness of design. The particular strength of the Balinese artist is, to my humble and untrained eye, the ability to capture the mood of a landscape or the colours and vibrancy of the exotic Balinese wildlife. We first encountered Balinese Art when we spent ten days in Bali as part of a split destination holiday. We did the typical tourist thing of taking a coach trip to a gallery but, before leaving, made a note of its location and returned the next day by hired car.
The centre of Balinese Art is Ubud and that is where we bought our paintings. We chose one acrylic painting of a pair of birds of paradise and another acrylic of a tree full of exotic birds. We also bought three batik pictures that were unframed. We were lucky enough to meet the two young artists whose work we particularly liked. Buying Balinese Art like this, it was good to see that the money was going to be largely into their pockets and not into the bank account of a Western European dealer.
The frames for the main pictures were hand-carved and a piece of art in themselves. Unfortunately I had not considered the implications of getting the frames back and, although each painting was presented to us in a roll, the frames formed a package which made me look like an inexperienced terrorist. Rather than risk someone at the airport going into panic mode, I made sure that the package of frame pieces was thoroughly inspected by Airport Security and some of their special tape applied to indicate that they had seen and approved the package’s contents.
Don’t forget to ask for a receipt if you are importing goods like this. When you are asked for import duty on your purchases, the Customs officer will guess (and probably grossly overestimate) the value of each painting and calculate the tax accordingly. If you have a receipt for your Balinese Art, he or she will be obliged to base the tax on that. Don’t forget import duty is payable on what you actually paid, not what the object is perceived as being worth.
Balinese Art has increased in popularity since we were in Ubud and it is now possible to choose your painting online and get it delivered to your home for a modest courier’s fee. The range of Balinese Art available now includes imitation masterpieces as well as all the traditional and contemporary paintings that Bali is famous for. Nowadays, there seems to be more oil paintings available alongside the acrylic collection.
Because of the bright vivid colours and high contrast used, it may be best to display your collection on a wall painted in a bold-coloured emulsion. Wallpaper, unless of the plainest design is likely to clash with your Balinese Art so it is best to avoid that.
Make sure that each acrylic and batik is well-lit – celebrate the vibrancy of the colours; don’t hide them away in the shadows. Your collection is unlikely to increase in value so don’t buy it as an investment – its true worth is the everyday enjoyment of its cheerful exuberance. That said, you guests are certain to admire your pictures.
Good luck choosing your Balinese Art!