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Details
ARIE SMIT (INDONESIA, 1916-2016)
Padi Fields
signed and dated 'arie smit Bali '76' (lower right)
oil on canvas
126.5 x 126.5 cm. (49 3/4 x 49 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1976
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by Clare Boothe Luce
Thence by descent to the present owner
Private Collection, USA

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Sylvia Cheung
Sylvia Cheung

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Lot Essay

Bali, the 'Island of the Gods' was a legendary land, having inspired many a foreign artist and traveller with its natural beauty and rich culture. For Arie Smit, it was the exotic landscape, elegant temples, and the lush vistas that captured and intrigued his soul, forming an artistic outpour of whimsical colours and patterns combining elements of impressionism and Gauguin-esque hues in tantalising works reflecting his love of this tropical paradise. For the Honourable Clare Boothe Luce and her niece, Bali told a story of finding belonging amidst a foreign land.

Correspondent and ambassador, Luce was one of the most accomplished women in America— certainly of her generation, with her diplomatic travels leading her and her young niece around Southeast Asia, and eventually to the island of Bali, where a visit to Smit’s studio in 1976 would prove to form an enchanting yet enduring relationship with the present lot today. Freshly completed and placed on a wall in the artist’s studio, Padi Fields was a mesmerising and moving encounter for Luce and her niece, capturing the sublimity of the island whose shimmering light and intangible spiritual quality had likewise captivated the hearts of the close knit pair.

Radiance is the essence of Smit's paintings and Padi Fields presents a stunning view of grass-covered fields, rolling hills, and verdant trees in the deep valley below as light emanates the landscape, awash with shifting shades of orange and red, to pale blues and purples. It depicts a world of extraordinary beauty, where the towering form of the majestic mountain Gunung Agung overlooks the land, executed in an impressionistic manner, with brush-strokes and sinuous highlights that appear to move gently on the canvas in a rich abundance of harmonious colours. It is certainly one of the artist's more complex works, unique in its expansive size, exceptional composition, and refined nuances of colour, light and shade, so different from the pointillism characteristic of his later works.

Luce and her niece returned to Hawaii, never forgetting their meaningful trip as Padi Fields sought a new home in Luce’s private collection, a memorialised piece of Bali in the family fold. Gifted on to her niece at the end of a remarkable era, Padi Fields has remained a heartfelt treasure of its present owner for the past 30 years. Its incomparable beauty and emotive resonance stand as a testament to Arie Smit's legacy that shall persist through his art, which encapsulated his love for the paradisiacal landscape and culture of Bali.

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