The Newsletter 71 Summer 2015

I Gusti Nyoman Lempad:The first catalogue raisonné of Balinese painting

Dick van der Meij

Reviewed publication:
Carpenter, B.W. et al. 2014. Lempad of Bali. The illuminating Line, Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, ISBN: 9789814385978

I Gusti Nyoman Lempad is a remarkable figure from the advent of what is now known as Modern Balinese Art. He lived a very long life. He was born in Bedulu in Central Bali around 1862 and he died in 1978 in Ubud, at the astonishing age of 116 years. During his lifetime, Bali changed from a feudal island ruled by 9 kings, to a small part of the Dutch colonial empire, to finally a small province of the Republic of Indonesia. Not only that, from a predominantly rural and agrarian island it changed into what is popularly called a resort, attracting millions of tourists and other visitors each year. Bali was lost to itself; an intricate web of myths, stories and downright lies increasingly came to change a once vibrant living culture into a living museum, all the while obscuring the real life and needs of a large part of its indigenous population. Although many Balinese reap the fruits of modern developments, it is astonishing that most Balinese, who do not live in paradisiacal conditions – what with poverty, unending traffic jams and horrendous pollution – have not loudly protested against this resort fantasy.