Neka Art Museum

April 2, 2017   Ubud, XF16, Art
For a picture to be good, he said, it must have a little of everything in it - fighting, a little love, comedy and grief. Like a well-made dish there must be mingled sweet, salt, a taste of acid, a taste of bitter...

And this? I asked, pointing to the incalescent love scene.

He laughed. It gives the savor, he said. Like "sra." Like shrimp-paste. Colin McPhee, A House in Bali

I took a taxi today to the Neka Museum. It's barely two km but I knew even this short walk would leave me drained. I think my muscles are atropying in the heat. I need to get home and start running again.

Ketut, a talkative fellow, asked 60000 for the short trip to the museum which I gladly paid. I don't haggle over small amounts, I think a dollar means more to them than to me. Later in the day, when I'd walked through every building at Neka, studied every painting, examined every sculpture, I messaged Ketut with WhatsApp and he brought me back.

Here's a test: how many older siblings are in my driver's family?

The Neka museum, like the Agung Rai, is a beautiful compound of attractive buildings set amongst lush gardens and soundtracked by noisy birds. And, like the Agung, the Neka specializes in the work of Balinese and ex-pat artists. The Agung Rai has a smaller but equally-beautiful collection but makes up for that in ancilliary facilities. The Neka is just art. Beautiful, mostly-colourful art, with Balinese life as subject. Happily for me, this museum allows photography.

Speaking of art, the streets of Ubud are sprouting huge bamboo stalks of home-made art, and they grow in number every day. Plus the ubiquitous shrines are being draped in colourful fabrics and the offerings seem to be growing in size. It's preparation for yet another special day, or rather days. I'm lucky, two festivals in one trip.

But, I hate to plant this thought in your head, but I find the poles creepy. The pole ends, which are very tall and have elaborate offerings dangling, bring to mind photos of Iranian cranes and nooses that were in the news a couple years ago, scenes that stick with you even though with all your might you try to erase them. Sorry for the disturbing thought.

Enjoy the art!

Arie Smit, Dutch artist in Bali      
Cooling Swim, Dewa Putu Mokoh      
Underwater Life, I Nyoman Darsana      
Detail from previous      
Neka Museum      
Neka museum      
Life of the artist, Roger San Miguel      
Arie Smit, Neka Museum      
Neka Museum      
Galungan is coming      
These tall poles are popping up all over. They are penjor, bamboo poles with offerings suspended at the end.
Poles on Jalan Sri Wedari      
The poles are for Galungan, a Balinese holiday celebrating the victory of dharma over adharma. They mark the time when the ancestral spirits visit the Earth.
Chickens (for Shawna)      
An especially elaborate pole