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Posthumous National Honors for Two Ubud Pioneers of Culture and the Arts


The Ministry of Tourism and the Creative Economy has presented an Anugerah Adikarya Award posthumously to two Bali-based artists.

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Recognized for their contributions to the arts were Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati and Walter Spies, making them the first two Bali residents to be so recognized.

As reported by Bali Daily, the Minister of Tourism and the Creative Economy Mari Elka Pangestu announced the two awards.

The former royal regent of Ubud, Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati extended a welcome mat to Ubud for artists, both foreign and domestic, paving the way for the establishment of the Pita Maha movement in 1936. The Pita Maha is widely credited with acting as the early catalyst for Bali’s place as a center for the arts.

The son of Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati, Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati (Cok Ace) who is the head of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI-Bali) and the former regent of Gianyar, remembers his Father’s keen love of the arts and his readiness to provide work space for visiting artists such as Dutch painter Rudolf Bonnet, Spanish painter Antonio Blanco and German painter Walter Spies. 

Together with Spies and Bonnet, the elder Sukawati,who died in 1978, established the Pita Maha that became the point of inspiration for many Balinese artists, including the legendary artist and architect I Gusti Nyoman Lempad.

Cok Ace’s Father also built Bali’s first museum of art – Puri Lukisan – that survives and prospers to this day together with its collection of classical Balinese paintings.

The other recipient of the award was German Walter Spies who died as a prisoner-of-war when a Japanese bomb sank the vessel carrying him to Ceylon in 1942. During the 1930s, Spies redefined painting and, to some degree, the performing arts in Bali. He influenced young artists through Pita Maha, made films on Bali and co-authored a compendium on Balinese dance and drama still valued as a reference book to this day.

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