In memoriam: With Nyoman Darsane, Bali and the world church lose a champion of contextual theology and the arts

3 April 2024

On 25 March, I Nyoman Darsane (1939-2024) passed away. This versatile artist grew up in traditional Hindu culture and befriended one of the last princes in the royal court. There, he was introduced to singing, dancing, gamelan, wajang, batik and painting and sculpture, as it had been practised for centuries. He was given opportunities to do formal art training in Java and there he encountered Christians. At the age of 17, he became a Christian, which led to a split with the family. 

From then on, his art practice expressed the biblical message, but as much as possible in Balinese garb. He maintained close contact with the Visch-Tonsbeek missionary couple and thus the link with the mission house in Oegstgeest and the Netherlands was established. This relationship led to visits, exhibitions and dialogue with theologians from the VU and PThU.

His work was a great source of inspiration for Prof Volker Küster who maintained links with him from Kampen. His depictions of biblical stories, with favourites such as Mary, Martha and Mary and the five wise and the five foolish girls, went all over the world and were used, among other things, for posters by missions in Germany and the Netherlands, among others, and also enriched the so called mission calendar. Exhibitions were held, in the Netherlands in 2002 organised by the PThU and in 2006 by the Mission Heritage House.

But his cross-cultural footprint in the theological field extended much further: from church buildings of the Balinese church in Hindu style, to the Our Father he danced during the celebration of Two Centuries of Missions in the Laurenskerk Rotterdam in 1997, to the life of Christ performed in wajang. 

Volker Küster wrote a beautiful In Memoriam to remember him (in Dutch).