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Bali Artists

Among various ethnic group of Indonesia, Bali showing the most developed art in all aspects, from music, dance, plastic art, architecture, painting, and other creative arts. It has been the continuation of the tradition which must have given the environment of the development. Although Hindu and Buddhist have been accepted in Bali since 8th century yet the local tradition continuous to live and mixed into the new religion. Even Hindu has given the way to the life of the art by the concept of dedication by 4 ways ( Catur Dharmas ) meaning 4 ways to worship the god. One of these way is acknowledge and appreciate human profession as the basis of praying, especially those do not have the ability to practice worship on the basis of philosophical ways. An architect he can worship the god by constructing and making the temple a beautiful pavilion, a dancer can worship the god by presenting the dance they know during the temple ceremony as well as music group perform the music at the temple rituals. Singer and theatrical also present their skill during temple ritual, as well as sculptors, painters, and others. Before 16th century, Yogyakarta when it was a Hindu kingdom of Mataram, the art also developed very well which can be proved by ancient monuments such as Borobudur, Prambanan, today's batik, wayang puppet, gong music, silver and gold handicraft, and various stone sculptures. It must be a great place before 16th century where people can express their spirit which is the basis of society development in all their life. The continuation of culture in Bali from immemorial times fertilized by the Hindu and Buddhist since 8th century have brought the present stage of Bali art. Beside using profession as the basis of worship, thank to the openness of Balinese culture to foreign cultural elements which enrich the elements of Bali culture. When Bali known as tourism destination, various foreign aspects of culture also influenced Bali such as unique design of sculpture, accessories, furniture, fashion, painting, the way of life, and even bad sides of the life, such as living together without legal mariage, and drugs. The writer do not think that without this foreign influences the fact that in Indonesian society itself already alcoholic drinkers, call girls at some of the provinces in Indonesia have been facing this problem since immemorial times. It is well aware that his is the basic human right which can not be suppressed unless to be hypocrite country legged behind by the other cultures which in turn appeared as colonized in modern meaning, because the limitation of senses without giving welfare in economy will give favorable land to the deviants.

Art is believed as an aspect that can give human being psycological satisfaction and materials. This is a fact that where the area have developed art there have better life standard and more communicative in the sense of diversity relation. It can be traced in historical art of Bali that at the beginning Balinese was the same as other ethnic groups of Indonesia, they have megalithic tradition with simple sculptures of venus, stepped pyramided and architecture which was continued in the course of time during metal age. Many types of venus bronze sculptures have been found and can be seen now at Bali museum in Denpasar. During bronze age also found a beautiful drum made of bronze. Archaeologists thought is was brought from Vietnam to Bali during migration. But the finding of cast fragments of this drum at a village called Manuaba, near Pejeng which showing negative patterns of the drum, led an assumption that the casting would have been made in Bali. During the period of ancient Bali which is from 8th century to 14th century various beautiful sculptures are found such as at Goa Gajah, Pura Panulisan, Pura Sibi Agung, and some at Pejeng village. Four of those stone sculptures bearing the date of its carving. An inscription from 9th century indicates a group of dancers presenting from village to villages, which was supposed a type of dance using mask, currently in Bali known as Tari Topeng. In this period indeed showing more art variation recorded in the history. Starting from 14th century the type of art even more various. It seems that Indian reference for art has been introduced in Bali which was observed well between 8th to 14th century, while a bit neglected during later period. A comparison of the sculptures aspects done by writer in 1985 found only little aspects that were still followed. Even at earlier period when the rules were strictly observed, a deviation can be found such as the signatures of the artist, which was not ethical way to claim own work at that time. The period of 14th century to 16th century was the start of fast development of art variation in Bali while later time continued until 1920s the use of modern materials as the source of work more and more introduced especially in architecture, painting and sculpture. Also the object of sculpture and painting developed, not only from religious and traditional figures, but also creative and foreign designs.

Starting 1970s due to the developing number of tourist visiting Bali the life of artists changed, not excepted any kind of art. But the most favoured artists are of the carving, painting, gold and silver, and batik. Some of them built their small shops or art galleries to host the guest during their visit to their village. With the assistant of tour agencies the artists could fully expose their works both at their place of work or through etalages belong to the big shops or private collectors. It was really a promising stage for the artists not only Balinese but Javanese, Kalimantan and even the Asmat. One can see various Indonesian ethnic art being exposed at the places frequenly visited by the tourists. The artists from central Java for example got a great favor from the development of Bali which could expose their works such as batik, garments, wooden works, gold and silver, bastketry, and others.

Despite the fact of the easy marketing of articles of art the life of artists was often explored by some media of being unupgraded and being exploited by the capitalists. This partly true and partly wrong, as without the exposition of the artists works by the bigger shops it would not reach the eyes of travelers, as most artists do not have the ability to sell their work to foreigners, and it was gradually educated also during the decade that the artists understand that their work is more then what they could imagine.

The creativity of Balinese artists can be seen in variuos aspects of art. For example the creation of Cokot painting style is world widely acknowledged beside the creation of elongated wooden sculpture by Nyoman Nyana various masks carving by artists around Mas town such as Anak Agung Anom, a well known mask dancer and sculptor in Mas. Can be count also in the art of dancing, so many renewed and newly created traditional dances can be seen on presentation at local TV program pioneered by I Made Bandem Ph.D. Starting the year of 2000 local singers with local inpired song born in a great number, even some of their creation having better quality compared to the singer and song that are being promoted by the artist in the capital city Jakarta.

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