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Ida Bagus Njana and Ida Bagus Tilem – Bali 1948

Our 2020 table calendar pays tribute to the island’s ancient wood carving tradition, showcasing pieces from the Njana Tilem Gallery in Mas, Ubud

In the sleepy village of Mas just south of Ubud, the Njana Tilem Gallery houses a remarkable collection of art, masks, antiques and sculptures, each painstakingly handcrafted by the students of Bali’s most internationally revered wood carvers, Ida Bagus Njana (1912 – 1985) and his son, Ida Bagus Tilem (1936 – 1993).

                                                                                                                  Njana Tilem Gallery, Mas Village, Bali

The gallery is set amidst the peace and quiet of the family’s traditional compound, with a mission to promote and preserve the dying art of Mas’ wood carvers.

Carvings of ebony, mahogany, frangipani and hibiscus are displayed for sale, with pieces ranging from pocket-sized to several metres in height. Many of the statues were hewn from a single piece of wood over several months – the detail is just outstanding. Tilem’s son, Pak Ari, tells us that the artistic inspiration for the student’s work comes from sources as varied as Balinese village life, traditional dances, depictions of the gods, mythology, and stories from the great Hindu epic, The Ramayana. Paintings adorn every spare piece of wall, including a characteristically dreamy portrait by Don Antonio Blanco, nicknamed the ‘Dali of Bali’ for his eccentric character and jaunty red beret.

                                                                  “Sanghyang Dedari (Trance Dance)” 1983 

                                                                                               “Ramayana Epos” 1982

A handful of sculptures by Njana and Tilem themselves lie unfinished in the gallery’s private collection, but the main body of their work is displayed in the collection at the Njana Tilem Museum, just 500 metres up the road. Even a quick tour will get you acquainted with just how unique and progressive their respective styles are. The earlier sculptor found beauty in simplicity and the curved lines of the human form while his son’s pieces tend to be more ambiguous, with layers of meaning. Tilem’s later pieces became increasingly conceptual, and he was the first carver to use naturally distorted wood to express human emotions in a more abstract form.

Our 2020 calendar presents 12 beautiful wood carvings from the Njana Tilem Gallery in Mas and is available to buy at WakaGangga boutique resort’s Gallery in Tabanan. We hope that sharing the work of Bali’s master artisans with our global audience will help their art live on forever.