Nostalgia is the crutch of the old wishing to slumber
off into dreamland perhaps never to awake again.
- Arie Smit
On an island famed as a tourist destination and billed as “Paradise on Earth” for over a century, the subject of nostalgia is, as the wry Bali-based artist Arie Smit notes above, is something of a loaded question after so many devoted generations have fallen in love with their individual versions of Bali.
In a series of paintings drawn from traditional subjects – the cockfight, the marketplace and the rice fields – the Dutch-Australian artist, George Wagner, presents memories of the past clad in new clothing.
Although this is his first exhibition in Bali, Wagner is no stranger to the island or to Indonesia. Indeed he was born and spent much of his youth, in what is now Jakarta, during the Dutch colonial era. While his father was Dutch his maternal grandmother was of Javanese royal blood. George lived in Holland for a time after Indonesia’s Independence, before migrating to Australia in 1959 at age 27.
Beginning as a performer of Indian dances, Wagner established himself in Sydney as a textile and interior designer in the 1960s. An economic downturn brought his successful business to an end and he returned to visit Holland in 1971.
During a visit to Donald Friend, the Australian artist suggested Wagner should visit fellow Dutchman, Han Snel in Ubud. Over the next decades the two artists would become close friends with Wagner spending a great deal of time in Ubud.
There he would develop his unique style to capture his vision of Bali. As described by his good friend Andrew Charles, “George paints life as a dramatic dance. His figures are at once celebratory, mythical and narrative. With fiery color and subject matter, George paints allegorical scenes that touch both timeless and contemporary issues.”
George’s style is distinctive and inimitable. Using pure color, he boldly applies the paint directly onto surfaces that vibrate with energy. Again in the words of his friend Andrew, “these paintings blend the tribal energies of his Australian home and Balinese mystics that reflects George’s commitment to his expressive vision.”
While the title of the current exhibition in Bali may be “Nostalgia
” and draw its inspiration from iconic Balinese themes, George Wagner brings more to the table. Indirectly the show is also a tribute to his great friend Han Snel who passed away in 1998.
Now 79 years old, George Wagner displays all the signs of an ambitious young man at the beginning of his career.
Paintings by George Wagner
Ganesha Gallery at the Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay
November 4-28, 2011
Open Daily from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
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