“I was 17 when I saw money for the first time”


“When I was a child, I wanted to continue going to school, but my parents didn’t have the money. I decided to study painting instead. I was too poor to buy colours, so I was just painting in black and while for many years. Then the Dutch painter, Arie Smit, noticed me, and offered to be my teacher. I finally started to paint in colours, after almost 10 years of painting in only black and white. One day he told me “Arka, I’ve got nothing left to teach you”. And then I was on my own. A few years after that, he came to my shop and wanted to buy one of my paintings. I said to him that he was the one who made my art what it is, and he could have anything for free. He insisted that art should always be paid for. He asked me how much I wanted for the painting. I had no idea. I was 17 and I had never seen money before. He gave me some money and said ‘This is the least you should ever sell your paintings for.’ This was the first painting I sold.”

Currently 67 years old, Arka is an accomplished and very well-respected painter, and the owner of Bale Bali Inn. His most recent exhibition, which was opened by a government official, was in August, 2015.

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