Sitting at the ready, two sentries provide quite the security team as a visitor admires the intricate gold carvings and incredible blue hues of this majestic museum. Be careful not to touch any of the paintings or carvings—-they may awaken. A collection of historic Balinese art as well as contemporary paintings, this lavish institution owes everything to one of Bali’s most influential painters.
One doesn’t achieve the nickname “maestro” without a vast showing of expertise with the paintbrush. With a career spanning over 40 years, Nyoman Gunarsa earned his place in the pantheon of Balinese artists with paintings that oozed frenetic energy and movement. Taking inspiration from traditional costumes, religious lore, and Balinese dance, Gunarsa’s playful brushstrokes and quick movements earned him a likening to those heads of the orchestra. Nationally recognized, he was awarded the Pratsara Affani Adi Karya Art Award in 1976.
Along with being a modern art master, Nyoman sought to share his experiences and skills with fellow Balinese artists. He was a lecturer in Yogyakarta, and in 1994 opened the Nyoman Gunarsa museum as a way to not only share his own works but provide an educational collection of antiques and pieces reflecting on the vibrant artistic history of Bali.
Discussing his art, Gunarsa was once quoted, “I am drawn towards lines like singing and placing colors like dancing.” Strolling through the many exhibitions in his ornately decorated three-story museum, one can’t help but do a little dance themselves. Just make sure those stone-faced guards aren’t watching.