Davina Stephens‘ paintings are a lush celebration of the fecundity of Bali. She expresses not only the fecundity of this tropical world in all its riotous exuberance, she reveals the fecundity that arises at the intersection of Bali with the rest of the world which beholds, adores and consumes it. Clever girl.
Tonight an exhibition of her most recent works opened at Warisan Casa, a furniture- showroom-cum-gallery in Tuban, Bali. The evening was divine, as were many of Davina’s works on the walls. The company was equally divine, divided between old-time Bali veterans, resident young folk born of the latter, and devastatingly beautiful recent arrivals involved in things like real estate and other enterprises. A fine mix, as is Davina’s work.
She has observed many cultures, intimately, from her infancy. And she has diligently studied and mastered a range of techniques, drawing on Japanese, Indonesian, Indian and European ways of image-making. The result is an oeuvre that is constantly evolving, with strengths surfacing and submerging from one exhibition to the next. Davina is an artist whose work bears watching as it matures.
The party was as exuberant as Davina’s imagination and range of expression. We saw a cross-section of the most creative and extravagant characters on the island of Bali. Cheeks kissed included artist Sebastian Mestach (and his Rhodesian Ridgeback), Elisa Grattapaglia (my sister of perpetual mercy), Gianpaolo Nogaro of Warisan, Anita Lococo, Michael Palmieri, Giuseppe Verdacchi, everyone’s favourite wise auntie Roma, Susanna Perini of Biasa, Moon Khoury (editing his latest film shot in Turkey), and dashing painter Van Wierengen in black tie.
The most delicious cheeks kissed however were those of three of the illustrious Vooges-Carpenter family. This is the story of a Mary Quant-esque mum who was a bright young thing of London society in the 70s, and her two fairytale children, Avalon and Allegra. Avalon is the NBA-height, tow-headed weed of a son, who’s a hot snowboarder in the USA and has often been seen with a certain Indonesian movie and TV star of dazzling beauty and smarts. And Allegra is the daughter who’s a rising star of the catwalks, an IMG supermodel with brains and self-possession, one of the rare alarmingly-gorgeous creatures who isn’t Eastern Bloc, and who has a head on her shoulders (which are positioned squarely atop a long torso, which is positioned squarely atop a pair of legs-up-to-here). It’s a miracle. Nice evening, no shortage of beauty, in its manifold forms.