RUDOLF BONNET (1895-1978)

Portrait of a Balinese Man

Signed, dated 1975 and inscribed Bali upper right
Conté crayon on paper, 67 x 49 cm


Private Collection, the Netherlands


Dutch artist Rudolf Bonnet is considered one of the leading Indo-European artists of the 20th century. For Bonnet, Bali was a grand stage and its people the enigmatic performers that he would capture again and again in expressive chalk drawings on paper. Bonnet was first introduced to the tropical island of Bali through its representation in artworks by artists such as the Dutch artist W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, and the German artist Walter Spies. Chasing the myth of the untouched, unspoiled land and its alluring inhabitants, Bonnet arrived in Bali in 1929 and settled in Ubud, its artistic and cultural locus.

Portrait of a Balinese Man captures the relaxed elegant pose of a Balinese man entirely relaxed in his elements. Bonnet's mastery of the conté crayon is perfectly illustrated here as he renders the fine ripples of the man's waist-cloth beautifully. Even as the present lot is executed nearly 50 years to his first arrival in Bali, Bonnet sought to capture every bit of the emotions and expressions of Balinese life as perceived through European eyes that had come to care deeply for the tremendous vibrancy of life the island had to offer.