I Wayan Bendi
I Wayan Bendi is a living legend, the leading practitioner of the Batuan style of painting which developed in Bali in the 1920’s-1930’s.
He was born in 1950, in Batuan, a village near Ubud. He still remains rooted to his birthplace, where he has his studio and art gallery.
The Batuan style of painting is very intricate and detailed, crammed with many “stories”. Paintings in this style are tightly crowded with teeming crowds and scenes that depict all the traditional aspects of Bali life, like rice harvests, temple rituals, dancing girls and fantastical theater masks.
A Batuan picture usually has a sober monochrome color palette, because of the initial application of black and grey paint on the canvas surface as base. But Bendi is also an artist with a mischievous streak. For a Batuan artist, he is considered very colorful with his ‘soberly bold’ colors like brick red and light olive. Then there’s his ‘thing’ about helicopters. Bendi usually has one somewhere in his crowded agrarian scenes, and part of the fun is to hunt for it. Another favorite, the t-shirt clad, inquisitive tourist with his intrusive, long nosed camera lens, snapping away amid the water buffaloes and rickety taxis. It’s a Bendi trademark that speaks volumes about his concern for Bali’s relationship with the almighty tourist dollar.
In recent years, Bendi has expanded his focus to capture traumatic events that has impacted Indonesia, from the Bali bombing to the tsunami. Always, Bendi’s witty, observant paintings are like a macrocosm of modern Bali life.The artist has exhibited in Japan, Netherlands, Belgium and New York.