Local markets are a great source of inspiration for painters in Bali and, as contributor Bruce Granquist explains, these bustling scenes become all the more interesting when painted in the intricate and detailed form of the Batuan painting style.
Everyday life of Bali, both traditional and contemporary, is a rich source of visual and narrative material for the Batuan painters. There are complex rituals that require weeks to arrange, and many people working together to carry them out. These rituals are full of meaning and are a visual delight, exactly what the artists need to spark and enrich their creativity. There are also more intimate moments that the people of the village engage in on a daily basis, smaller scenes and scenarios that are more personal. These too can be inspiration for the painters, who can use them to capture the rhythm of daily village life.
The traditional market is the commercial and social centre of the village, always busy and full of activity, a natural subject for a painter.
The unusual proportions of this painting to the left by the Batuan painter, I Made Griyawan, side steps concerns of narrative in favour of formal innovation. It is almost if all the elements of the painting are spread out on the ground with the viewer looking from above (according to the artist’s own description).
The painting by I Ketut Rintawan shows another form of commerce that is conducted close to the market. It is what we would call micro business. In Bali it is called jualan and it usually involves selling snacks and other prepared food. So nobody is left out, many sellers specialise in children’s toys and other diversions.
A market is an extremely social place. It is not surprising that artists would become interested in depicting the interactions of men and women there. The artist who created this painting seen above, I Wayan Gendra, is better known for his highly detailed mythological paintings. It is particularly interesting to note the interactions between men and women that he has included in this painting. It is clear that there is much trading and negotiation going on, both commercial and otherwise. The detail from a 1930’s painting seen below shows that this dynamic of market life is not a new tradition.