Catching up with an old friend…

In Bali last month, I took the time to re-connect with an old friend. I met Nyoman Purpa, an art dealer in Ubud in 1977 and would visit him again and again, whenever I returned. It had been 25 years since I was last in Indonesia and taking a trip there with my daughter during the school holidays, I decided to seek him out. This is Purpa as I knew him in 1977; a laid-back, easy-going seller of paintings, with a few motorbikes for hire, as a sideline:

Nyoman Purpa in his art gallery, Circa 1977. © Rob Walls

Though Ubud had changed almost beyond, recognition, Purpa was not hard to find. His gallery which was once set amongst rice paddies is now part of some of the most expensive commercial real estate in Bali.

He was still the same, smiling, optimistic Purpa of old, though now comparatively wealthy. A dedicated family man, he had helped set up his twin daughters with their own fashion and jewellery business. His son, is a well know rock musician, appearing regularly on Indonesian television.

After filling in the years over a few Bintang beers, we decided to update his image with a new portrait:

Nyoman Purpa with ever-present cigarette, in his gallery, February 2, 2011 © Rob Walls

The years have been kind to my old friend.

Purpa and me. Photo © Cassandra Walls 2011


Filed under Australian, Biography, documentary photography, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism, portraits, Rob Walls

10 responses to “Catching up with an old friend…

  1. those kind of friendships never seem to fade, Rob. Lovely little story.


  2. Thanks Roel…more to come. Been back nearly a week with 2,600 pictures to edit, but laid low with flu. Bouncing back though…

  3. Irene walls

    Great to see your smiling faces Rob.

  4. Dear PURPA !

    I am looking forward to visiting you in your Gallery, one day again.

    You are such an Inspiration to those who may take the time to ‘listen to your
    Life’s Philosophy & many other Wise Words.

    I have adopted You, hopefully you don’t mind me addressing YOU as
    ‘my ‘ GURU.

    The WORLD needs more Inspirational & Kind Souls, like yourself.
    You have mastered the morals of deep Family Roots ; Your Work Ethic is an admirable quality.

    YOU spread Good Karma to those who can open their ‘mind’ to allow you to ‘enter’ into the portal of the ‘Soul’.

    Your creations are flourishing; the garden project ; designing the balcony that will one day be overlooking Monkey Forest Rd ; instilling the notion that not all projects were meant ‘cross the finish-line’

    I look forward to purchasing one of the ‘paintings’ from your vast collection, and if you be so kind as to ‘choose’ the painting; I would be Humbled by such a gesture, on your behalf.

    Your Friend,
    Kathy Grymaloski, Vancouver, BC Canada

  5. Lovely story and portrait Rob….my god the first sings of the period doesn’t it? I recall another beautiful photograph of yours of your friend in Spain…is that up on your blog?

  6. Terrence

    Great story, Rob. I happen to be in Bali now and met Purpa and his son a couple of days ago at a cremation ceremony. A very interesting and very sharp man. I liked him a lot and got the sense that life has been good to him. We chatted about his visit to Universal Studios and how he learned of the tricks of movie makers.

  7. Putri Purpa

    Dear Robert Walls,
    I am Purpa’s youngest daughter and Im happy that I accidentally found your page that tells a lot about my father. I have shown this to my father and he is happy too. Looking forward to meet you. please visit us again soon!


    Ketemu juga akhirnya dengan pak Nyoman Purpa,……..saya sejak awal jumpa senang dengan pribadinya yg ekspresif,……h..h..h……Pak Purpa,..pengin saya belajar dari bapak,…….

  9. Kari Scruby

    Hi Purpa remember me Kari from Australia you came to our gallery (Graham my then boyfriend and mine) in London and put some of your paintings in with us. Glad to hear you’re doing well – those were the days. Kari

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