Ida Bagus Made Poleng

April 11, 2009


One Icon of Bali Painting Artists

It has been ten years Ida Bagus Made Poleng passed away. But his name has been never forgotten by Bali painting lovers or hunters especially art gallery owners. Not only because of his quality paintings, but also his way of life as a whole which is always firm in principles.

Made Poleng is a Bali painting master that very critical to art gallery. He is not easy to release his painting to gallery. Not to do with money. Yes, he is very  appreciative on his works himself. But not for materialistical reason. He assumes that painting is just not a “thing”. Made Poleng is sure that  there is something spiritual in (his) painting. Before painting he often takes a fast.

Ida Bagus Made Poleng with Agung Rai

Ida Bagus Made Poleng with Agung Rai

Made Poleng will release his painting to someone, which he is sure, will really love  and take care of  the painting properly not for just commercial motives.  In an informal meeting with Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) owner, Agung Rai, at his modest residence in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia,  several years before his death, Made Poleng told his rightly proud when he refused a collector offering to exchange one of his paintings with a fivety thousand US dollars new car.

For some gallery owners, Made Poleng’s principle is maybe rather ridiculous. However, they are respect to him. Agung Rai, for instance, said  that Made Poleng is very talented and idealist painter. According to Agung, Made Poleng painted not for market  demand. It’s true when we look at Made Poleng’s painting themes. Made Poleng’s painting is in general about daily life in Bali. He is  also used to paint the symbol of traditional beliefs of Balinese. He is rather hard to change his painting themes as market demand. His life that so modestly is another proof of his principle as an artist in relation with market. Made Poleng is also known as activist of Pitamaha Artist Association, an artist group that very critical to commercialism trends in visual art.

Born from a Brahman family in Tebayasa, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia in 1915,  Ida Bagus Made Poleng learned painting firstly from his father, Ida Bagus Kembeng (1897-1952). Later he got a lot of art knowledge from Rudolf Bonnet.

His paintings have been acquired by prestigious institutions all over the world, including the United

Legong Dance by Made Poleng

Legong Dance by Made Poleng

Nations, the New York Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the Royal Tropical Institute Museum (Amsterdam) and the Royal Ethnographic Museum (Leiden). In Indonesia, his paintings are in the collections of former President Sukarno, the Museum Puri Lukisan, the Neka Museum, the Agung Rai Museum of Art, the Bentara Budaya Museum, and many others.

Before the second world, his paintings were included in many touring exhibitions organized by the Pitamaha Artist Association. Exhibitions were held in the Kunst-ring (Art Circle) of Batavia (1936, 1937, 1939); Bandung (1936, 1938); Tegal (1938); Medan, Palembang and Surabaya (1939).

After 1945, he stopped participating in any exhibitions. Not until 1998 that he gave a blessing to a solo exhibition organized by Darga Gallery (Sanur, Ubud). The exhibition (14 March – 14 April, 1998) featured paintings from the Neka Museum, The Agung Rai Museum of Art and of a handful private collectors. Ida Bagus Made attended the opening of the exhibition. A short catalog, entitled Ida Bagus Made – Mata Air Campuhan Masa Silam, accompanied the exhibition.

Calonarang by Made Poleng

Calonarang by Made Poleng

In 2001, a posthumous solo exhibition was held at the Herbert Johnson Museum of the Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. The exhibition was curated by Prof. Kaja McGowan of Cornell University. Third teen paintings from three private collectors were shown from August 18 – October 28, 2001. An exhibition leaflet: Suaranya Gong Kebyar: the Balinese Art of Ida Bagus Made was published.

He passed away after a long illness in 1999.


1. Interview with Agung Ray and Made Poleng, 1997


13 Responses to Ida Bagus Made Poleng

  1. […] Balinesse  and foreigner especially European.   They are, for instance, Affandi, Made Wianta, Ida Bagus Made Poleng, Anak Agung Gde Sobrat, Antonio Blanco, Arie Smith, Rudolf Bonnet, Le Mayeur, William Gerard […]

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  12. […] works are far different from their predecessors – the remnants of the Pitamaha generation such as Ida Bagus Made Poleng, Gusti Nyoman Lempad, or Anak Agung Gde […]

  13. […] by Balinese masters such as I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, Ida Bagus Made, Anak Agung Gde Sobrat and I Gusti Made Deblong worked in Bali are represented by Willem Gerald […]

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