Batuan Style Paintings have brought the Indosian arts to be more and more famous. Painters from the village of Batuan, south of Ubud, have been known since the 1930s for their dense, immensely detailed paintings of Balinese ceremonies, daily life, and increasingly, “modern” Bali. In the past the artists used tempera paints; since the introduction of Western artists materials, watercolors and acrylics have become popular. The paintings are produced by applying many thin layers of paint to a shaded ink drawing. The palette tends to be dark, and the composition crowded, with innumerable details and a somewhat flattened perspective. Batuan painting represented in the catalogue are paintings of Balinese scenes encompass the sacred as well as the mundane.
The Batuan school of painting is practiced by artists in the village of Batuan, which is situated ten kilometers to the South of Ubud. The Batuan artisans are gifted dancers, sculptors and painters. Leading artists of the 1930s included I Nyoman Ngendon, and a number of members of leading brahman families, including Ida Bagus Made Togog. Other major Batuan artists from the pre-modernist era include I Dewa Nyoman Mura (1877-1950) and I Dewa Putu Kebes (1874-1962), who were known as sanging; traditional Wayang-style painters for temples’ ceremonial textiles.
Among the early Batuan artists, I Ngendon (1903-1946) was considered the most innovative Batuan School painter. Ngendon was not only a good painter, but a shrewd business man and political activist. He encouraged and mobilized his neighbours and friends to paint for tourist consumption. His ability in portraiture played an important role in teaching his fellow villagers in Batuan more than Spies and Bonnet. The major Batuan artists from this period were: I Patera (1900-1935), I Tombos (b. 1917), Ida Bagus Togog (1913-1989), Ida Bagus Made Jatasura (1917-1946), Ida Bagus Ketut Diding (1914-1990), I Made Djata (1920-2001), and Ida Bagus Widja (1912-1992).
The western influence in Batuan did not reach the intensity it had in Ubud. According to Claire Holt, the Batuan paintings were often dark, crowded representations of either legendary scenes or themes from daily life, but they portrayed above all fearsome nocturnal moments when grotesque spooks, freakish animal monsters, and witches accosted people. This is particularly true for paintings collected by Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson during their field studies in Bali in 1936 to 1939. Gradations of black to white ink washes laid over most of the surface, so as to create an atmosphere of darkness and gloom. In the later years, the designs covered the entire space, which often contributed to the crowded nature of these paintings.