“First a smile! So he must be Balinese. Then a “wicked” wink, so he must be intelligent! Finally, he starts to talk, not about himself, but about his island. Typical of the man. Agung Rai, owner of the ARMA Museum. Listening to him, you soon find yourself in a world of temples, dances and sacred trees, and you understand how, in Bali, Man is part of Nature and Nature is moulded by Man. However, it’s when he starts in on art that his eyes truly sparkle. He has never painted, he’ll tell you, but it is through painting that he found the language and the means to speak to his guests of Balinese harmony.” Incredible but true, describing the founder of the ARMA Museum in this handful of phrases is none other than the great Jean Couteau. First, a travelling salesman and then a passionate art merchant, Agung Rai only began collecting paintings in the Eighties. The fruit of his labours is now on display in Ubud in a multifunctional space that, besides hosting paintings, is also a resort, a restaurant, a performance space and a home to various workshops. At the heart of Rai’s project is the idea of a living culture in continuous transformation, thus his love for his land mixes with a desire to build bridges to the rest of the world. At ARMA, there are works by important Balinese artists on display, as well as authors active throughout the Indonesian archipelago, but also works by Western painters inspired by the culture and beauty of the island, from Rudolf Bonnet to Willem Hofker, from Le Majeur de Merpres to the visionary Walter Spies. The collection moves from traditional styles to contemporary pieces with special attention given to emerging talents. Among the attractions not to miss are the Kamasan paintings on tree bark, the masterpieces by the Batuan artists of the ‘30s and ‘40s and the only works in Bali by the Javanese painter from the 1800s, Raden Saleh Syarif Bustaman, a true giant of Indonesian art.
Francesca Grego - © 2021 ARTE.it for Bulgari Resort Bali