- A rise of enthusiasm of Ida Bagus Rai’s pieces is growing in the auction houses.
- Based on our observation from the auction record, starting from 2011, IB Rai’s paintings were mostly sold above the High Estimate (HE).
- IB Rai’s oeuvre is in his color and composition. Although belong to Ubud school of painting, he loved to experiment with colors and style.
- Recommendation: earlier pieces by IB Rai are worth more to be collected. Choose those with outstanding color composition.
Ida Bagus Rai is a name we cannot separate from the world of Balinese traditional painting. An Ubud-style painter, IB Rai is sometimes mistaken with Ida Bagus Nyoman Rai, a fellow painter from Sanur. Different with Sanur school of painting where black and white are dominant, IB Rai loved to experiment with colors. In his golden days, he had painted various themes – all with diverse colors fresh to our eyes.
Born in 1933 in Padangtegal, Ubud, Rai first learned painting from I Dewa Ketut Rungun (1922-1986), a well thought-of painter with a strong character. Rungun’s influence is clearly seen from Rai’s Bali Life (Lot#19: Larasati, Aug’11). Very soft yet dramatic in colors, this painting is simply captivating. He later learned from Rudolf Bonnet (1895-1978) and in 1956 became a member of Golongan Pelukis Ubud. Bonnet’s influence can be seen from Rai’s Nji Sri and Ardjuna (Lot#227: Christie’s, Oct’96) and Adu Ayam/ Cockfighting (Lot#10: Sidharta, Nov’09).
Rai had a strong sense of tradition. His themes were never far from Mahabaratha and Ramayana scenes, those he was deeply rooted in. His work as a priest within his village undeniably played a significant role on how he infused religion and philosophy into his paintings. Unfortunately, despite the quality of his works, IB Rai is less popular compared to other painters coming from the same time period. In the auctions, his works are usually undervalued. Busy with his religious activities, this affected his productivity to create.
In the recent years, collectors are starting to eye Ida Bagus Rai. Based on our overview towards IB Rai’s auction records, it is poignant to see how his pieces were used to be sold with such low prices (IDR 2-5mn), and still unsold. Starting from 2010-2011, IB Rai’s pieces are interestingly performing well in the auction houses. In May 2010, Jaka Tarub (Lot#256: Borobudur) was sold 219% above the High Estimate (HE) – worth USD 23,126, this piece is the top purchase to date.