Traditional Kamasan Art
This is the most traditional of all Balinese paintings. Originating in the Klungkung Regency during the reign Kingdom of Gelgel it was widely admired throughout Bali. The artists specializing in this art form are known as "Sangging". In days gone by these Snagging artists would often be commissioned to travel to other kingdoms to decorate a palace or temple with this style of painting.
Kamasan is easily distinguished in the market. The paint color is predominately orange (sometimes blue) and the theme always depicts Hindu epics and are based on the Javanese Wayang characters. The characters are divided into two camps: Good, ( those with refined facial features and slim bodies) and Evil, (those with distorted faces, red color and distended bodies). The painting is a large canvas divided up into panels with each panel telling the story of a well known adventure. Years ago Kamasan art was placed primarily in temples as wall hangings, used as curtains, or as banners during festivals. (Go to the Kerta Goa Hall of Justice in Klungkung to see fine examples of this style). The paintings are used much the same way today with restaurants now often using the canvas for menu covers.
Kamasan still today has Sangging artists dedicated to painting in the traditional Kamasan style. Easily the best known Kamasan artist is I Nyoman Mandra who has his own school, and does restoration work. Bpk. Mandra can be found in Klungkung.