American artist Symon. The gallery is a spa-
cious and airy place full of huge, colourful
and exotic portraits. The work ranges from
the sublime to the profane.
of traditional Balinese architecture and layout -
Lempad was also an architect and sculptor. It's
also home to many animals in cages.
You can enter through one of the three
gates: at the southern end of Monkey Forest
Rd; 100m further east, near the car park; or
from the southern side, on the lane from
RIO HELMI GALLERY
Noted photographer and Ubud resident Rio
Helmi has a small gallery (Map p188 ;
10am-8pm) where you
can see examples of journalistic and artistic
work. Photos change often and show Helmi's
travels worldwide. You can also see his work
in many coffee-table books about Bali.
www.riohelmi.com; Jl Suweta 5;
You never know what you'll find at Pho (Map
KOMANEKA ART GALLERY
Exhibiting works from established Balinese
artists, the gallery (Map p188 ;
Botanic Garden Ubud
Care to feed a pitcher plant? A huge collection
of these Sumatran meat-eaters is but one part
of the amazing new Botanic Garden Ubud (Map
0813-3866 9382; Jl Goutama) , an enigmatic
and enthusiastic open-air gallery right beside
the road. From performance art to wild instal-
lations it could be here.
976090; Monkey For-
est Rd) is a good place to see high-profile art.
The space is large and lofty, making a good
place for viewing.
I Gusti Nyoman Lempad's home (Map p188; Jl Raya
Ubud; admission free;
970951; www.botanicgardenbali.com; admission
The home of Walter Spies is now part of
Hotel Tjampuhan (p182). Aficionados can stay
in the 'Spies house' if they book well in ad-
vance. Dutch-born artist Han Snel lived in
Ubud from the 1950s until his death in early
1999, and his family runs his namesake bun-
galows on Jl Kajeng (p191).
Music scholar Colin McPhee is well known
thanks to his perennial favourite A House in
Bali . Although the actual 1930s house is long
gone, you can visit the riverside site (which
shows up in photographs in the topic) at the
Sayan Terrace (p192). Sayan Terrace employee
Wayan Ruma, whose mother was McPhee's
cook, is good for a few stories. For more, see
Western Visitors to Bali in the 1930s, p52.
Arie Smit (1916-) is the best-known and
the longest surviving Western artist in Ubud.
He worked in the Dutch colonial adminis-
tration in the 1930s, was imprisoned during
WWII, and came to Bali in 1956. In the 1960s,
his influence sparked the Young Artists school
of painting in Penestanan, earning him an
enduring place in the history of Balinese art.
His home is not open to the public.
daylight) is open to the public,
but it's mainly used as a gallery for a group of
artists, which includes Lempad's grandchil-
dren. There are only a few of Lempad's own
paintings and drawings here. The Puri Lukisan
(p175) and Neka (p178) museums have more
extensive collections of Lempad's drawings.
The family compound itself is a good example
8am-6pm) Spread over more than six
hectares, the gardens - there are many - are
devoted to various themes such as orchids (in
greenhouses), Bali-grown plants like cinna-
mon and vanilla, flowering butterfly-friendly
gardens, an enormous lotus pond and much
more. The work of Stefan Reisner, this is a
welcome addition to the Ubud scene. Get
lost in the maze and when you finally escape,
take comfort from Bali's medicinal plants.
The exhibit about the cacti of East Bali is
worth the cost of admission alone.
AGUNG RAI GALLERY
In Peliatan, the gallery (Map pp176-7 ;
9am-6pm) is in a pretty compound and
its collection covers the full range of Balinese
styles. It works as a cooperative, with the work
priced by the artist and the gallery adding a
A LUST FOR PAINT
Only 40 years old when she died in 2006, I Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih's life was short but intense.
Her influence on the lives of Balinese women will be felt for a long time to come.
At her studio in Pengosekan, Murni (everyone called her that) painted works that earned her
street cred as Bali's most innovative contemporary painter. Breaking taboos, she explored her
own sexuality, not through depictions of herself, but through distorted images of male and
Of the act itself, her canvases showed penises and vaginas and all sorts of acts you won't
find painted by a man, let alone a woman, in the galleries of Bali. 'She broke every taboo while
maintaining her very sincere and devout Balinese persona,' says Mary Northmore-Aziz, founder
and director of the Seniwati Gallery of Art By Women in Ubud (see p179).
'She set new standards of personal honesty in a culture that prefers to idealise the role and
life of women.'
Sexually abused as a child by her father, a farmer, Murni used paint to exorcise this lasting
nightmare. Her first shows in the early 1990s shocked many. 'I recall fences, knives, headless
women, it was very disturbing to a number of people,' says Northmore-Aziz.
'But over the years her work developed and a lovely sense of humour also emerged, she could
laugh at herself and at human sexuality and invent weird and wonderful images.'
Murni was always most comfortable in her Ubud studio. As her work became better known,
she found relative fame in the art world and her work was displayed worldwide, often in solo
shows. In person, Murni was a witty, cheery and engaging person. It was quite a considerable
transformation for a woman who as a child had sought refuge from abuse and poverty by draw-
ing everything around her.
In 1993, Murni made another statement that will impact the lives of Balinese women for years
to come. She was granted what is thought to be Bali's first legally issued divorce to a woman.
Her husband had taken up with someone else and she wasn't going to have it.
Always a compulsive painter, Murni kept working, even after she was diagnosed with cancer.
She told Carla Bianpoen, an author and journalist who writes about Indonesian culture, 'I paint
for the feeling that I exist.'
Every evening at around 6 o'clock, thousands
of big herons and egrets fly in to Petulu (Map
pp176-7), squabbling over the prime perching
places before settling into the trees beside the
road, and becoming a minor tourist attrac-
tion. The herons, mainly the striped Java pond
species, started their visits to Petulu in 1965
for no apparent reason. Villagers believe they
bring good luck (as well as tourists), despite
the smell and the mess. A few warung (food
stalls) have been set up in the paddy fields,
where you can have a drink while enjoying
the spectacle. Walk quickly under the trees
if the herons are already roosting - the copi-
ous droppings on the road will indicate if it's
unwise to hang around.
A bemo from Ubud to Pujung will drop
you off at the turn-off just south of Petulu (the
trip should take about 10 to 15 minutes), but
it's more convenient with your own transport.
It would make a pleasant walk or bicycle ride
on any of several routes north of Ubud, but if
you stay for the birds you'll be heading back
in the dark.
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
This cool and dense swathe of jungle, of-
ficially called Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana
(Map p188 ;
971304; Monkey Forest Rd; adult/child
8.30am-6pm), houses three holy
temples. The sanctuary is inhabited by a
band of grey-haired and greedy long-tailed
Balinese macaques who are nothing like the
innocent-looking doe-eyed monkeys on the
brochures. They are ever vigilant for passing
tourists who just might have peanuts and
ripe bananas available for a quick hand-out.
Don't hand food directly to these creatures.