Imagine a paradise, a tropical home to serene waters, raging volcanoes, vigorous waterfalls… and a lot of art. That’s Bali, the famed Island of the Gods in Indonesia.

I visited this majestic place and fell in love with the island’s scenic landscapes dotted with temples and shrines. The island, I discovered, is full of artisanal craftsmanship that tinkers between the traditional and the modern.

On one hand, you find Hindu art that immerses you in the history and different aspects of daily life, encompassing artistic traditions and styles culturally connected to Hinduism and the religion’s rituals. On the other hand, western modern and contemporary ideals subtly edge their way onto big canvases, while still preserving their cultural identity.

I have come up with a list of highlights from my trip to the town of Ubud, also known as the island’s cultural heart, and the center for traditional crafts and dance. Here, you will find the finest galleries and the grandest museums, all with contemporary Balinese architecture and lush greenery.

Purpa Fine Art Gallery:

Indonesian artists Kijono and Baksmi at Purpa Gallery

Purpa Fine Art Gallery offers a unique collection of contemporary art by both established and emerging artists. The gallery has two branches in Ubud and in Seminyak, representing not only Indonesian artists, but also artists from different nationalities who have lived in Bali or have spent time there. Some of these artists are now recognized worldwide such as Walter Spies, Antonio Blanco, Miguel Covarrubias, Arie Smit, Krijono and many others.

Purpa Gallery, with owner and collector Ari Purpa

We spoke to gallery owner Ari Purpa, who told us that he started art dealing ever since he was at the tender age of 10. He grew up, and his passion grew with him, leading him to become one of the island’s biggest collectors and dealers.

The Blanco Renaissance Museum:

The Blanco Museum’s exquisite garden

Possibly one of my favourite stops of the art tour, the Blanco Museum used to be the residence and studio of artist Antonio Blanco.

Overlooking the Campuhan river, the exquisite building with lush gardens and exotic birds welcomes you at the entrance.

The Balinese architecture of the space houses an incredible collection of works, adorned with extravagant frames which themselves are works of art. Walking around, you immediately get a glimpse into the artist’s whimsical character and flamboyant nature. Blanco lived and worked in his magical hilltop home until his death in 1999.

Komaneka Gallery:

Komaneka Gallery entrance

Komaneka Gallery is part of Komaneka Resorts in Bali, and boasts a collection of Bali’s best contemporary art. The gallery holds 2 exhibitions per year and represents Balinese artists locally and internationally.

Neka Museum:

Neka Museum entrance, gardens and art

Established by Suteja Neka, a Balinese teacher who collected Balinese art with the advice and help of and advice from the painters Rudolf Bonnet and Arie Smit among others. Opened in 1982, it hosts a series of galleries starting with classical paintings and progressing to contemporary Indonesian art, followed by art created in and influenced by Bali by foreign artists.

Puri Lukisan:

Puri Lukisan gardens and traditional Balinese art on display

Museum Puri Lukisan is the oldest art museum in Bali which specialize in modern traditional Balinese paintings and wood carvings. It is home to the finest collection of modern traditional Balinese paintings and wood carvings on the island, spanning from the pre-Independence war (1930–1945) to the post-Independence war (1945 – present) era. 

Watch a recap of my trip:

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