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Buying Bali paintings in Ubud

Ubud painters road, street view

Buying Bali paintings in Ubud

Buying Bali paintings in Ubud has become quite popular for tourists coming to Bali and wanting to take a piece of art home with them.

Ubud, as the centre of Bali arts in general, including traditional dance and music, sculpture of both wood and stone, is also the centre of painting in Bali.

In Ubud itself you will find many formal galleries that showcase locals’ work, along with many shops packed to the rafters with work, along with many stalls at the Ubud market that sell the unique work of locals as well as the mass produced artwork that comes from Java.

Like to share your experience of buying Bali paintings in Ubud? Leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Just out of Ubud, (see the map below – the road in red is the painters’ road) is a whole road of painters studios where painters sell their own works, as well as the inevitable large galleries that sell everything. This is a 3-4 kilometre stretch of road where there are many small and large outlets.

Of course there are other galleries elsewhere but it is here that they congregrate. This is the area where many artist families have always lived.

This is a trip best done with a car just in case you find something you love, or maybe even when shopping for gifts for loved ones at home.

In some of the larger galleries you will also sometimes also find exorbitant prices, a very small percentage of which goes to the painter and there are sometimes the mass produced art here as well. Mostly however you will find prices reasonable, and if you feel the need to bargain, try it out.

You may get some better deal, though often the painters are not interested in negotiating. And really, mostly it is a lot a lot of money, and you do want to support the arts community. Don’t you?!

The larger galleries in Ubud, on the other hand, are usually doing very well thank you! And some artists simply sell more than others, and are more well-known or popular so of course you will pay more for their work.

Remember though, that an income of anything over 5 million a month is considered very good. So just be a bit sceptical of the initial high price.

There are all kinds of art styles – the classic traditional art, the landscapes, the more gawdy and sometimes lurid still-lifes, the endless variations of Indonesian artistic expression.

Ubud painters road gallery

Lots of these galleries are chock full of stuff I’d never hang on a wall, but maybe someone else might. And there is often lots of interesting pieces although you may have to dig a bit.

There are also reams of mass produced art that is simply copies of others long sold, for which the original artists receive nothing.

Over the last years there have also been an increasing number of galleries in the Kuta-Seminyak strip that sell both local art as well as that of expat artists, and obviously at a higher price than elsewhere.

See the bottom of this page for more photos of Buying Bali paintings in Ubud.

Clearly with art, the closer you get to the source, the cheaper it will be and the more money goes into the pocket of the artist.

However, if money is not really your main concern, galleries do provide a constant revenue stream so they are also worth supporting.

There are painters, galleries and painting shops with hundreds of painting stacked up, all over Bali (often supplied by Ubud artists) but if you are in Ubud, or simply want an excursion with a car, this road is a good one to explore.

Custom ordering and buying Bali paintings in Ubud and elsewhere

A few times I have liked a painting but the shape or size does not work for where I was thinking of hanging it. Or, in one case, I wanted a pair of matching though not identical paintings.

Usually the painter will be happy to paint another to the specs you provide. Mostly this is successful though you have to allow for slight variations in colour and style.

Better to order two new ones so the artist is working from the same palette.

Ubud painters road kite shop

 As well as paintings there are beautiful hand painted kites which they can help you to pack in a travel friendly way.

Tips for taking Bali paintings back home with you

Make sure the paint is totally dry before you roll it up. The humidity here is so strong that mould may grow in the paint as the painting goes to a drier climate. It happened to me once where a painting that was not totally dry when I took it home became mouldy.

Take the wooden frame home with you as well. This is not just for financial reasons (which are valid, as framing a painting in the West can set you back 100s of dollars) but also because the original frame itself (and therefore the canvas) may not actually be really square and easily rebuilt.

The frame itself may only weigh one kg so it is cheap to ship. Even if you pay someone at home to put the frame together it is still better than giving it to a framer to do.

I struggled for hours one time trying to build a new frame the same size and shape as the painting and had enormous difficulties stretching the painting so it was the same as before simply because the canvas was also not square.

Using the original frame makes this simple. It fits the Bali painting.

Before they take the painting off the frame, number the end of each section of the frame so you will know which ends are joined together.

Check the wooden frame for evidence of termites or borers because Australian customs will want to check it and will burn it if there are bugs. If there are bugs, measure the offending piece as accurately as possible so you can replace it once home.

Enjoy looking and maybe you find something special.

By Mark O’Brien 2013

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