No Gauguins here….

Normally Sunday is my day off, when i try to rest and contemplate. Old friend Michelle Han showed up as planned for a coffee, but then she showed me an article in the Financial Times, actually an interview with Ashley Bickerton, whose art I love but he seems to have the artist’s curse of not getting the facts quite straight. You can read the article yourself here: I did shoot off a letter to FT, but am posting it here anyway:Re: “I’m not living a lie anymore” (!) (interview w Ashley Bickerton by Mark Ellwood) I am an Indonesian living in Bali for the Iast 35 years. I happen to know Ashley Bickerton personally as he is currently married to a family friend. I admire his art, but perhaps because of his bohemian lifestyle in the expat near-enclave like Seminyak, his grasp on facts about the island are somewhat tenuous. Or perhaps he was interviewed over the phone with a very bad line after a party. To start with he says there are no museums in Bali. This despite the Museum Bali in Denpasar having been established many decades ago, and the current tally of officially recognized and certified museums on Bali continues to rise (to name a few, in order of seniority, Museum Bali, Puri Lukisan Ratna Warta, Neka Museum, Museum Gunarsa, Museum Rudana). I appreciate his concern about “they are selling off everything in this country..” which is partially true for many cultures in the world, but it is only partially true. Then there is his statement that Bali has not produced any great expatriate artistic characters. May the spirits of Walter Spies, Rudolf Bonnet, Antonio Blanco and so on not come back to haunt Ashley for not knowing them. There were also artists from other parts of Indonesia who made their mark, such as Affandi and so on. Meanwhile I suppose the great Balinese artists like Lempad et al will just have to accept that expat artists are ‘much more important’. And as to where he is building his home, it isn’t Penang-penang, it’s Padang-padang (but maybe it was just a bad line). Then there is the famous quote from Nehru, “Bali is the morning of the world”, being attributed to Miro (LOL!). I am willing to attribute some of the near misses (e.g.Penang-penang and Miro) to a bad phone line, but the rest can only be attributed to ignorance. I am not sure about FT’s policy with interviews, but a little fact checking would go a long way.Rio HelmiUbud, Bali

One Response to “No Gauguins here….”

  1. Katong Kid

    Ah, the FT’s arts editors seem to have trouble once they deal with anything past Europe. They are good on arts festivals in the Orkneys, etc, but 1) don’t cover much outside of Europe, and 2) have trouble with references to Asia, as per the article above. My favorite recent example was the article looking back on Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, saying that it was influenced by Shanghai’s atmosphere and skyline. Well, in 1982 when Blade Runner was made, ten years before Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour, the opening of Pudong, and the slogan “to get rich is glorious”.

    Someone did write “letter to the Times” in that case, glad you are doing your part Rio in this case!


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