ANAK AGUNG RAI:
The Guardian of Balinese Harmony
First a smile! So he is a Balinese. Open. Then a “naughty” wink, so you understand he is a smart one! Then he starts talking– not about himself, but about his island. Typical of the man. Gung Rai, owner of the ARMA Museum. Listening to him, you will soon find yourself in a world of temples, dances and holy trees, and understand how in Bali Man is part of nature and Nature shaped by Man.
He may talk about the gods, and you will be told that how they dwell in the self –one in the heart, another in the liver etc—and motion the Universe in an eternal movement of coming and going, creation and destruction. But it is when he starts glossing about visual arts that his eyes really spark. He never painted, he will tell you, but it is nevertheless through painting that he found the language and means to talk to his guests about Balinese harmony.
You may then learn that he started as a peddler and became a merchant, but before long you will understand that he never meant to “accumulate”, but instead to “show”. And what else could he show, if not the artistic representation of Balinese harmony. Hence his museum and resorts, where Nature, Man and certainly the Gods come one last time in total harmony with one another, as this same harmony is seen elsewhere shrinking in landscapes and villages.
Cultural philosopher and writer.