The Inner Brightness


I Ketut Budiana (1950)

Art Exhibition in The Oberoi Hotel, Bali.
From 17 March to 29 April, 2017.


Budiana flyer web


Who is Ketut Budiana? To a certain extent, he can be construed as the traditional artist par excellence. He was born (1950) and grew up in Padangtegal, Ubud, the birthplace too of some of the most famous artists from the Pita Maha school. Indeed, his cultural memory, shaped in the days prior to the introduction of television, is still that of the dance and theatre world of Bali.

The grand-son of a undagi (traditional architect), he has himself become one, and when not painting, one might find him busy carving a set of sculptures for a village temple or directing the making of a cremation tower. Last but not least, he is also one of the last wanderer-cum-teacher artists: people call him from Java or Lombok to carve temple sculptures. Budiana is a guru-artist, one of the last genuine ones in Bali.
Yet, Ketut Budiana was also modern educated –at the Senior High School of Fine Arts in Batubulan—and he has been a teacher for more than 30 years. Born on an island without cars or electricity, ethnically and linguistically homogenous, he grew into adulthood as this same island was becoming richer, yet as its culture was unavoidably reeling under the dual onslaught of the national state—carrying a different language and a different symbolic world—and of tourism and Western-inspired modernity. Yet, as we shall see, in his works, Ketut Budiana does not idealize Bali nor its tradition; he does not either bear witness to changing Balinese society and values. No. His works remain in the field of the spiritual. He enhances Balinese spiritual symbolism to a level in which it takes a universal dimension.


Jean Couteau, Ph.D.


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