Artpreciation visits Made Wianta’s studio.
During the past decade the phenomenal growth of wellness and spiritual tourism in Ubud has become a huge boom for the Bali tourism sector. Art, one of the original cultural icons that in the 1930’s positioned Bali on the international tourist map, however, is yet to be fully appreciated and realized for its enormous tourism potential.
Phoenix Communications, based in Kuta, Bali has recently launched the first specialist guided art tours in Bali. Artpreciation, a program of Balinese art discovery for small groups is a journey into the knowledge and practices that includes lectures by art authorities, visits to galleries and museums, visiting hotels with extensive art collections and exclusive access to the intriguing studios of prominent Balinese artists.
“Celebrated for its beautiful tropical landscapes and the warm hospitality of the people, Balinese culture and art are unique treasures that deserve the discerning traveler’s undivided attention,” says Alistair Spiers, the founder of Artpreciation, entrepreneur, and publisher of popular cultural and tourism magazines Now! Bali and Now! Jakarta.
Founder of the ARMA Museum Agung Rai
“There is a lot of talk about Bali being an art center, however very little is done to actually promote it and make it accessible,” Spiers added. “Indonesia’s culture is shrinking as rapidly as fast food and convenience stores open. If we don’t finance the preservation of culture through tourism we will lose it all together. We need art and cultural tourism in Bali to protect and support these incredibly important aspects of Indonesia’s life.
“My career has been directed towards the exposure and promotion of this beautiful country and its culture, to try to get the world – and especially its own citizens – to appreciate it and protect it,” he adds.
Visiting Ubud’s famous Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA), lectures on the history of Balinese and Indonesian art, guided tours of senior Balinese artists Made Wianta, Mangu Putra and Made Djirna’s studios are features of the Artpreciation tours. Charismatic ambassador of Balinese culture and founder of ARMA Agung Rai delights in sharing his knowledge about his important collection of Balinese art, along with explaining architectural features of the museum and cultural distinctions of the Balinese people. Wandering through ARMA with Agung Rai is one of the tour highlights.
Lecture on Indonesian & Balinese Art at Tugu Hotel Bali
“Artpreciation tours are both very interesting and important, not only for foreign visitors, yet also for the Balinese people,” said Agung Rai. “There is now a lack of appreciation and understanding of the content, ideology and symbolism behind the traditions, along with the overall development of Balinese art. Appreciation and understanding is essential in not only the development of young Balinese artists, yet in all generations, to be more aware of the religious, social and artistic values of Balinese art which is a unique part of our heritage.”
“People may observe, yet not fully understand the cultural relevance or the enduring soul of the art. There interest may be only to buy and sell,” he said. “The missing link is the communication of the harmonic, universal values and Artpreciation tours are essential in educating people and ultimately assisting in the appreciation and survival of Balinese art.”
The artistic creative process is often misunderstood and perceived as “other worldly” or mysterious by people who consider themselves “not creative or without artistic talent”. Venturing into the studios of internationally renowned artists Wianta, Mangu Putra and Djirna add an exciting element to the tours. Their collection of paintings, sculptures and installations in their studios are not only visually exhilarating, yet complete with fascinating individual stories. The artists take pleasure in openly sharing their knowledge about their inspirations, ideas and technical processes.
Made Wianta’s Studio
“Usually art collectors do not know where to begin,” said historian and art critic Jean Couteau, who is also one of the presenters of the Artpreciation tours, along with curator Arif B. Prasetyo. “There is such a huge amount of “art” being made in Bali and an abundance of “galleries” that it is hard for collectors to make their choices. With limited supportive infrastructure to assist visitors and collectors to become more knowledgeable skillfully presented tours become an essential. Artpreciation makes their learning and selection process much easier.”
Several combinations of the Artpreciation tours are available providing clients full and half day tours. Including hotel pick up your tour may begin with a presentation and lecture about the history of Balinese and Indonesian art, or how to collect Balinese art, followed by a museum tour or a visit to an antique or contemporary art collector. Lunch at fine dinning venue will be next on the agenda where you can sit down with the tour presenter and continue your conversations. The day then culminates with a visit to an artist’s studio and finally transportation back to your hotel. Clients may even custom design their own tours.
Perfect for art lovers, art collectors, or even the curious wanting direct access and the opportunity to learn deep insights into the unique character of Balinese art, Artpreciation is a welcomed addition to the Bali tourism sector and an asset to cultural preservation.
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Words: Richard Horstman
Images Richard Horstman & Artpreciation
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