Thursday

Made Wijaya visits Walter Spies

Made Wijaya visited today the Agung Rai Museum in Pengosekan, Bali for an exhibition of photographs on artist Walter Spies life in Ubud in the 1930s. He comments on his visit in his unique style in the Jakarta Post:

It is so refreshing to be reminded of the way foreign artists lived in Bali in 1930s -- surrounded by Balinese beauty -- and to be made aware of legendary German artist Walter Spies' incredible contribution to the world-wide appreciation of the Balinese bosom, the Ketjak dance and the Bali Style movement.

Below a photo from Walter showing Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead, while they were making photos in Bali to show how the Balinese show through posture people’s character.

An exemplary esthete, Spies invented the modified wantilan pavilion -- in an attempt to get a baby grand between pavilion columns -- Balinese landscape painting (the Batuan School) and wrote the definitive book on dance and drama in Bali, with Dutch anthropologist Beryl De Zootes. He also introduced Baron Victor "Boys in the Sand" Von Plesson to the joys of the world's most gorgeous culture. Together they collaborated on the feature film Insel der Damonen (Island of the Demons) in 1936.

The world had to wait another two years, for Constance Bennet's heady breast-fest, Island of the Virgins, to get a more reasoned heterosexual overview of the Island of the Gods.

Next to the Walter Spies exhibition were some extraordinary early paintings by Sanur artist Ida Bagus Nyoman Rai, a pupil of legendary Australian artist Donald Friend, whose Bali diaries, co-edited by old Sanur-hand Christopher Carlisle, are to be launched next month at the national library in Canberra.

Well done Agung Rai, for show-casing these golden oldies!

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