Beyond the bustling hubs of Seminyak, Kuta, and Canggu lies the very heart of Bali tradition and culture. While the countless coffee shops, bars, beaches, and luxury vacation rentals on the island have taken center stage, the true heart of Bali is its reputation for being an artistic enclave.

Known as The Island of the Gods, it is the artistic center of Indonesia, where traditional artisans and contemporary creatives converge to gain and bring inspiration to the island. From dancing to performance art, woodworking, painting, textile arts, and more, Bali truly is an artistic wonder.

Below, we have 7 of the island’s top artistic spots and one important event that every artist and art enthusiast should know about:

1. The Bali Arts Festival

Photo: The Jakarta Post

Each year, the island gathers together all the artists and craftsmen from all the ten cities of Bali for a festival the gods would approve of. It is a month-long celebration highlighting the art and culture of the island, where parades, events, performances, exhibitions, and bazaars converge in one place.

Held at the Taman Werdhi Budaya Art Center in Denpasar where the Ngurah Rai International Airport is located, its mission is to preserve Balinese traditions while also promoting them to the world. It is a must-visit for anyone who wants to experience the wealth of creativity in Bali without having to visit individual villages and cities on the island.

2. Batuan

Photo: NOW! Bali

Batuan-style painting was introduced to the rest of the world in the 1930s when European artists and patrons came to the island upon the invitation of Balinese royals. The Hindu-Javanese influences depicting Balinese folklore and mythical stories on canvas became synonymous with the island’s artistic identity, making the village one of the perfect places to discover traditional Balinese paintings.

Related article: A Glimpse into the Beauty of Balinese Culture

3. Gianyar

Photo: The Jakarta Post

Located just outside Ubud, this is the place where tradition meets modern art. Showcasing several art galleries, Gianyar is considered to be a melting pot of different artistic expressions rolled into one. Home to local and visiting artists from around the world, it is the place for art patrons to discover the wonderful pieces, collections, and exhibitions of creatives that call Bali home.

4. Keliki

Photo: NOW! Bali

A small village tucked behind lush rice terraces in northern Ubud, Keliki is home to Bali’s miniature paintings, where the biggest canvas is only 10” x 15” and the smallest is as little as 2” x 3.” The paintings depict rural Balinese life, where people are painted as small as a rice grain, and meticulous attention to detail portrays Balinese mythology, scenes of nature, or everyday life on the island. What makes these paintings impressive is the intricacy of the small details found in the tiniest of canvases.

Related article: From Wood Carvings to Shadow Puppets – Cultural Art Classes to Try in Bali

5. Sukawati

Photo: Balipedia

Located 30 minutes from Ubud, Sukawati is a bustling town mostly consisting of locals rather than tourists. Though the Ubud Art Market is more popular with tourists a more recommended shopping hub, the Sukawati Art Market is also a major tourist draw, where local artisans and craftsmen showcase their handmade products, artwork, jewelry, paintings, and wooden statues that are perfect to take home as souvenirs.

Related article: Where to Shop in Bali

6. Tenganan

Photo: Manfred Sommer via Flickr

An ancient village where locals still practice traditional rituals and ways of living, Tenganan is a place where households continue to practice and preserve the art of double ikat weaving. Fibers of threads are dyed in different colors before weaving, creating intricate and beautiful patterns that show on either side of the fabric. Visitors can witness each step of the process, from using natural dyes to color the threads, to placing the fibers on the ancient looms, to the entire technique of making patterns as locals weave them into beautiful pieces of ikat fabric.

7. Ubud

Photo: Pelago

Considered to be the cultural heart of Bali, Ubud is home to the Ubud Monkey Forest and a plethora of artistic treasures, ranging from metalwork, paintings, handcrafted jewelry, and so much more. The village of Mas, in particular, is home to skilled woodcarvers who create exquisite expressions of Balinese mythology, featuring god-like creatures and animals based on the island’s unique Hindu-Javanese traditions.

Final Word

And there you have it, Bali’s 7 most important spots and a festival that perfectly caters to the art enthusiast or professional who wants to discover the magic of Balinese art, culture, and tradition that goes beyond the walls of museums.

From visiting homes in Tenganan to witness ancient weaving techniques to exploring the miniature painting methods of artists in Keliki, to finding unique crafts at the Sukawati Art Market, Bali is undoubtedly one of the world’s artistic hubs that cannot be missed.

Explore the island beyond the surf, sand, and nightlife, and discover a whole world that entices the imagination, inspires your creative juices, and encourages you to discover your very own artistic expression.

Related articles: 10 Best Surfing Spots in Bali, Top 10 Best Bali Beaches

Featured Image by Indonesia Design