Art collector Hendra Hadiprana has filled The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah in Bali with his private collection.

Tucked away on the tropical island of Bali is a five-star hotel with a difference. Surrounded by lush rice fields and with Mount Agung as its backdrop, the view definitely takes some beating. But if you take a stroll down the sculpture-lined pathway and push open the doors of one of the suites that overlook the lotus ponds, you’ll see what’s truly special about this glamorous hideaway… For this boutique hotel is the former home of renowned Indonesian collector Hendra Hadiprana.

The entrepreneur, who has been known to bring sculptures to a dinner party table so that he didn’t have to look at an empty chair, lives and breathes his passion for art… And for the past 40 years he has worked hard to promote the art scene in Bali.

Hadiprana’s first brush with art was when he returned home to Bali from the School of Architecture in the Netherlands in 1958. The Dutch had just left and Hadiprana was met with a country that was going through change. So when he stumbled upon an art exhibition filled with expressionist paintings he found instant inspiration. But little did Hadiprana know that this small exhibition would change the course of his life forever.

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“The first art that I bought was by the work of Indonesian artist Affandi in a painting exhibition at US Embassy Jakarta. There were three paintings I bought at the event: “Barong and Rangda”, Parangtritis Beach” and “Affandi as Fisherman”.”

Hadiprana showed a keen eye for art as Affandi went onto show his works at prestigious auctions in Jakarta, Singapore and Hong Kong and each piece would sell for a handsome amount.

However, even now Hadiprana says that when it comes to buying works he has no set strategy: “There are no certain styles, colours or subjects that draw me. I just buy what I love,” he explains. “I will buy it if I have a place to hang it. I can’t bear empty walls. An empty wall is boring.”

Indonesia’s Best Art Hotel

Hadiprana went onto snap up works by Belgian artist Le Mayeur, Dutch painter Rudolf Bonnet and Chinese artist Lee Man Fong. But it was the works of the Indonesian artists that would become the closest to his heart. Hadiprana was overwhelmed with the amount of talent that could be found on the island so he decided to help promote local artists to a wider audience.

Hadiprana went onto open Galeria Hadiprana where he could showcase work of young artists. It was the first gallery in Bali to promote fine art by homegrown talent. Each exhibition staged would help promote Indonesian culture. “My gallery provides a stepping stone for young talented artists in Bali,” says Hadiprana. This stepping stone proved to be invaluable to renowned writer and painter Danarto, Yusuf Affendi and Made Gunawan.

But while this gallery might have caught everyone’s attention, this would prove to be just the start of Hadiprana’s vision. For he had already decided that he would to create an art enclave, which would inspire visitors to the country. He decided to turn the family’s summer home, which lies on the edge of the artists’ village of Ubud into an art-filled oasis. Hadiprana took the collection of 20 rustic villas on the family estate, and turned it into The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah. He then filled the suites, spa, lobby and garden with works from his own art collection. The Chedi Club was soon followed by Hadiprana’s own home Bumi Duadari, where he now hosts art salons and artists offer masterclasses for guests.

Indonesia’s Best Art Hotel

Meeting the artists is key says Hadiprana. “I’m just as interested in the process as the end result,” says Hadiprana. “I love to talk to the artist about the how as well as the why.”

The aim of the resort was to soothe the mind, body and soul. “Every human being has the need for self of expression. The atmosphere of Bali is art,” says Hadiprana.

Stressed-out urbanites can now wind down in these beautiful surroundings and leave with a piece of art that they have created themselves. “We want people capture their first impression of Bali in the medium of art,” says Hadiprana. And maybe it will affect them as much as it has him…

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Bali is a dream destination for a reason; offering not just picture-perfect beaches, but stunning natural beauty, cutting edge art and architecture and a rich culture and history.

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