Although Ubud’s main street is now lined with shops selling all manner of paintings, carvings, weavings and bric a brach, the surrounding villages and countryside are as charming as ever, and most artists gladly welcome visitors into their home or studio.
Artist have thrived in Ubud since the 1930s, when a local aristocrat named Cokorda Sukawati formed the Pita Mahaart society together with German painter Walter Spies and Dutch artist Rudolf Bonnet. Many of the finest works of the early Pita Maha years, which show clearly the transition from traditional to modern Balinese painting styles, are exhibited in the Puri Lukisan Museum.
Among the Pita Maha artists, I Gusti Nyoman Lempad was probably the greatest. His ink drawings, cremation towers, Barong heads and temple stone carving are gratly admired. Lempad died in 1978 at the age of 121 and some of his work are on display in his home, at the eastern end of Ubud’s main street. Others may be seen at the excellent Neka Galkery to the West of Ubud.
Many other well known artists have homes and galleries in Ubud, including American Antonio Blanco, Dutch born Hans Snel, Javanese Abdul Azziz, and Balinese stone carver Wayan Cemul. A pleasant ten minute walk through the rice fields (follow the main street of Ubud west over the bridge and turn left opposite the Campuan Hotel) leads to the village of Penestanan, where a community of young artists, inspired by Dutchman Arie Smit, work on brightly coloured “naive” paintings of dancers, rice harvest and village scenes.
In fact the finest work of art in Ubud is the surrounding countryside, and the only way to see it properly is on foot. Take a walk in the early morning or late afternoon to any of the neighbouring villages, or catch a minibus north from Ubud’s main intersection for the breathtaking ride to Pujung, the walk up to Sebatu village and admire the split bamboo roofts, coloured spirit boxes and carved temple plinths. While away the hot midday hours in one pf Ubud’s charming cafes, such as Murni’s next to the bridge or the Cafe Lotus overlooking the ponds of the Puri Saraswati palace.
–> Read Also : Central Bali – Antiquities of Central Bali