Today we visited a museum which showed a lot of what is called modern-traditional Balinese art. I think what that means is traditional subject matter (mostly narratives from the Hindu story cycles, the Ramayana, the Tantri Kamandaka, (no, I'd never heard of that second one either) and folklore) using more modern techniques. I liked best the black ink ones from the 1930s. These older images showed very little perspective, though there was enough shadow modelling to show a tree, tiger or demon as 3D. But what I really loved is how every part of the image is covered in pattern. The water has a pattern of waves, the leaves are shown in a pattern, the tiger is all repetitive pattern, the god of a thousand heads (so cool!) has a myriad heads turned into pattern and then there is random pattern filling in any left over spaces.
And speaking of pattern, there is the intricate wooden carving - how do all those curlicues and swirls work together? Stone carving too, though now much of that is cast into concrete. I was drawing a dragon-demon from a concrete entrance way this morning and was amazed at how all those stylised pieces of wing and horn fit together. And, supreme amoung pattern, there is the fabric. Batik, ikat and modern prints everywhere. For sale, yes, of course, but many men and women still wear beautiful sarongs. Here the patterns are layered over and over one another in a riot of colour and design.
So have you ever tried to put different patterns together? These are so formal, so complicated and done without Photoshop! What a mind, what a way of seeing the world that can produce such complex intricacies. I'm in awe.
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