Meeting Pak Nyoman Pandi
The art of Bali.
I have always wanted to see the artists working on the carved statues in Bali. Today I had a chance to connect with Mr. Nyoman or as we say here, Pak Nyoman.
I saw him as I rode past him on the side of the road and decided to ask him if I could interview him. He was kind enough to give me his time and let me have a chance to see what his life has been all about.
Ubud is known as the cultural center of Bali. There are numerous museums and studios for carving, painting, and jewelry making. Many of these classes can be paid for and attended by locals but this was no classroom setting.
At the age of 54, Pak Nyoman has been professionally carving/sculpting these Balinese statues for 12 years. I say professionally because for many years before that he was an apprentice. Though he has worked with wood as well he prefers this medium.
There are hundreds of carved statues all over Bali. I often wondered about the material the statue is made of. One major thing that I learned was the fact that these statues are very different from the first original statues that were carved in Bali.
It was news to me that the government no longer allows true river rocks to be carved into statues. It is due to environmental reasons and if you think about it, yes it makes sense. So the statues are cut, carved, and sculpted using knives and specialty tools. This skill is what Pak Nyoman had to learn.
How it’s made.
The basics of this are simple. They use a mixture of materials like sand from the riverbeds and cement and pour it all into a mold that will match the final size of the statue.
Pak Nyoman said that anything past 1.5m is hard work because he only has about 5 days until this mixture sets. Changing color from a dark grey to a light grey to the final product that looks like an off-white stone. The larger pieces need to be carved faster and thus it is much more demanding on the artist.
A smaller piece under 1m takes 5-7 days to finish. This of course depends on the amount of detail demanded by the customer. Pak Nyoman also does his sketches and works off of the sketches to the final product. The small ones can weigh 50-70kg and the large ones over 150kg.
Runs in the family.
Pak Nyoman has two kids, one boy who is 24 and one girl who are 22. His son is a tattoo artist and is not interested in carving stones. Yet his art is not far from his dad’s. The medium he uses just happens to be human skin.
While the father and son are artists. Pak Nyoman’s daughter is in finance and his wife who is 34 works for the government. This is very interesting since the son took after the dad and the daughter took after the mom.
For this interview, I didn’t get a chance to have Pak Nyoman ask me questions because we were interrupted by a friend of his that happened to be a mutual friend. It is a small world I tell you. I know no one in Ubud.
Yet the person that walked in on our interview was the person I had met at a restaurant months ago. He is a restaurant owner and he happens to own the shop I visited.
We will meet again.
We did our interview by the side of the road. It was rather noisy and so we decided to meet up at the restaurant the following week. So I guess there will be a continuation to the blog as soon as I am done with that.
I guess the moral of this story is, to treat people well and treat them with kindness. You simply never know when you will bump into someone you know. It’s best to leave a good impression on everyone throughout your life.
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3 thoughts on “My Interview with a Sculptor. Bali Indonesia 14”
This is a colorful entry. I enjoyed your recounts on Ubud art and artists 💜
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It was fascinating interview about the work of this artist. It must definitely be hard work. And being nice to people is the best way to go through life.
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