IN the 1960’s, one of Bali’s most prominent painters Arie Smit chanced upon a young Balinese peasant drawing pictures in the sand.
Impressed with his level of creativity, Smit then proceeded to negotiate a deal with the boy’s father to offer a replacement for the family to handle the chores in order for the boy to become his protege.
As the story goes, the Dutch painter then supplied him with art materials and let the boy explore his creativity by documenting the daily routines of his own people in the most vibrant of colours.
From this one young artist grew a bigger group of village artists comprising mostly teenagers who were known as the ‘Peasant Painters of Penestanan’.
One of the group’s most accomplished painters is I Ketut Tagen who stands out from the group due to his originality in composition and colour.
Some 20 selected paintings from Tagen himself are currently being exhibited at the Alpha Utara Gallery on Lebuh China in Penang until Jan 20 next year.
Former Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore Datuk N. Parameswaran, who was present to officiate the exhibition on Friday, said he admired the minimalist and structured approach employed by Tagen in his artworks.
“The way he filled the whole canvas and his choice of colours are certainly unique,” said Parameswaran, who is an avid art collector.
Architect Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat, who brought all the paintings from the painter himself, said the artworks that are on display at the gallery are the best of Tagen’s arts.
“These here are the cream of the crop of Tagen’s paintings,” said Lim.
He added that the price of the paintings on display at the gallery could reach up to RM10,000 each.
The exhibition is open every day from 10am to 6pm except on Mondays.