Surf art in Bali

Surfing is a way of life that lends itself to different ways of looking at the world. If you’re a surfer, you don’t see a wave in the same way as a non-surfer might. The nature of the wave is something to be a part of, the surface of the water a different “terrain” that most artists never get to explore like you do. In this way, artists who surf sometimes use their perspectives as surfers to inspire their art. Some call it “surf art”.

What exactly is surf art? I guess the best definition off the top of my head would be any art connected with surfing. In that case, surf art could incorporate surf photography (like these far out shots at Padang Padang) and surf filmmaking. But if we concentrate on fine art, there are plenty of examples that fit a more narrow definition of surf art.

A great example is a collective known as Skeleton Sea, which is comprised of environmentalists, artists and surfers who create art with an ecological message. The group uses recycled rubbish found on the beach to create some pretty astounding pieces.

As Asia’s surf Mecca, Bali has its own surf art scene and has inspired a variety of surf art by artists from around the world like Alex Krastev (see some of his Padang Padang work here). Also check out this Bali Barrel watercolor from artist James Finch on the Surf Art Gallery website.

Here’s what surf artist Ron Croci has to say about how Bali inspires him (from the Club of the Waves Surf art & culture section):

Everywhere an artist goes there are wonderful subjects to see and paint pictures of, however, Bali is enthralling in its artistic possibilities. Whichever way one turns, from agrarian rice fields, to the waves, people and temples, there are subject matters worthy of contemplation. Not a contemplation though that comes easily. An open-air artist must contend with the heat, humidity, (perspiration would often run down my arm, to my hand and drip from my brush) insects and the endless throng of visitors stopping by to chat in broken English and see what I was doing.

Of course, what you like and what you consider “art” is largely down to taste. These examples of Bali surf art, while not my bag, might look good on your 1981 dodge van. You know, the one you smoke pot in while listening to Blue Oyster Cult? Stack your surfboards to the roof and you’re good to go.

surf art

Monkeys surfing in Bali – the coolest surf art I’ve ever seen. Painting by W. Dolik. Image via Jesse Wagstaff (Flickr CC)

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