Depictions of sexual imageries in paintings and sculptures are not uncommon in Bali. Even celebrated Balinese painter I Gusti Nyoman Lempad (1862-1978) was known to depict sexual acts in his works. In the same manner, figures considered monstrous or grotesque are pervasive cultural imageries in Bali.
Representations of the Grotesque in Bali
An example of a significant grotesque figure is the witch Rangda, a character from a popular Balinese mythology. Maxwell, in Bali: Island of the Gods (2013), describes Rangda as “exhibit[ing] grotesque but recognizably human features with her bulbous breasts, wild shock of hair, and talon-like fingernails—not only characterized in dance, but also in the graphic and plastic arts.” (96) Furthermore, “a vast multitude of witches and ogres have been represented by Balinese artists with all manner of distorted horrifying features, such as clawed feet, gaping mouths with pendulous tongues, pointed ears and, of course, always with the telltale fangs of demons.” (96)
Intriguingly, he also explains that Balinese artists convey mysterious evil threats through disembodied figures comprising of weirdly connected human body parts. Additionally, mystical creatures with features drawn from the animal world melded into amazing compositions appear significantly in Balinese art. These mystical creatures are a mix and match of “[t]he trunk of an elephant, the paws and claws of a tiger, the snarling snout and mane of a lion, the wings of an eagle, the plumage of a peacock, the tail of a monkey, the coil of a serpent, the tailfins of a fish, the flippers of a turtle, [and] the horns of a cow” (102).