I Ketut Murtika, c. 1991

Batuan school of painting is practiced by brahman artists in the village of Batuan, situated ten kilometers to the South of Ubud. The Batuan artisan are gifted dancers, sculptors and painters. Major Batuan artists from the pre modernist era were I Dewa Nyoman Mura (1877-1950) and I Dewa Putu Kebes (1874-1962) who were known as sanging: traditional Wayang style painters for temples ceremonial textiles.

The western influence in Batuan did not reach the intensity it had in Ubud. According to Claire Holt, the Batuan paintings were often sultry, crowded representations of either legendary scenes or themes from daily life, but they portrayed above all that fearsome nocturnal moment when grotesque spooks, freakish animal monsters, and witches accosted people. This is particularly true for paintings collected by Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson during their field studies in Bali between 1936 to 1939. Gradient of black to white ink washes laid over most of the surface so as to create an atmosphere of darkness and gloom. In the later years, the design covers the entire space that often attributed to the crowdedness of their paintings.

Among the early Batuan artists, I Ngendon (1903-1946) is considered as the most innovative painter. Ngendon was not only a talented painter, but also a succesful businessman and a political activist. He encouraged and mobilized his neighbors and friends to paint for tourist consumption. His talent was cut short, due to his active involvement in the independence war.

Other major Batuan artists from this period were I Patera (1900-1935), I Tomblos (b. 1917), Ida Bagus Togog (1913-1989), Ida Bagus Made Jatasoera (1917-1946), Ida Bagus Ketut Diding (1914-1990), I Made Djata (1920-2001), and Ida Bagus Widja (1912-1992). They were the key proponents of the Batuan School in the Pitamaha Artist Association.

The spirit of Pitamaha period is still strong and continued by the contemporary Batuan Artists such as I Made Budi, I Nyoman Bendi, I Ketut Murtika, I Kenur and many others.

Selected Works

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAI Ketut Murtika (b. 1952), Karna Tanding (1998), Gouache on paper, 28 x 20 cm MERA
I Kenur (b. 1969), Buta Siu (c. 2006), Gouache on paper, 40 x 30 cm
I Ketut Murtika (b. 1952), The Wheel of Life, Gouache on canvas, 100 x 135 cm, On Loan, Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud, Bali