mario blanco

I Made Mario Blanco is the son of the late Spanish artist Antonio Blanco, often referred to as the “Dali of Bali,” for his elaborate works and eccentricities. Mario, 45, whose mother was a renowned Balinese dancer and is still alive, has blossomed into a famed artist in his own right, and along with painting runs his father’s Blanco Renaissance Museum in Ubud.

Married to Gusti Agung Ayu Wimas Hendrayani, 36, the couple have three children, Felicia Marcella Blanco, 13, Fortunia Mandieta Blanco, 12, and Antonio Maria Blanco Jr, 8. He shared his day with The Bali Times’ Arga Sagitarini

I get up at 7:30 in the morning, later if I’ve been praying at different temples until late at night. Sometimes I pray up to midnight or early in the morning, in temples here and in Java. No matter how late I am, I’m always at home before 9am, when the museum opens. I do an inspection before that, to make sure my father’s paintings are okay, as well as mine. We have some birds, and I do a check on them, too. We have around 50 birds at the museum now, many of them living freely, like cockatoos and Bali Starlings. Half of the birds are owned by the museum and the others are owned by a government preservation group called KSDA, which takes care of birds. The KSDA people often come to the museum and check on the birds, making sure they’re getting the right nutrition and inspecting their health.

Just before 9am, I pray at our family temple or at a holy room in our house. I pray often, because I believe that after we die, a person will be judged by God about how often they prayed when they were alive. I also believe that a human or soul’s duty after dying is praying and praying, so I think it’s better to be used to doing it.

There are good and bad aspects to being the only son who inherited the Blanco name, museum and talent for painting. The advantage is that it’s good for my career; the disadvantage, when people compare me to my father.

Antonio Blanco was a very good painter. Around 90 percent of his inspiration came from women, who he painted naked or half-naked. He was a nice man. I never saw my parents fight because of another woman. Of course they fought, like all couples, but the reasons were never another woman, or man.

I spend most of my time at the museum, and when I’m in a good mood, I can paint from 9am to 1pm. I always paint when I’m in a good mood and have inspiration.

I’ll have lunch around 1:39pm – traditional food like pesan klengis (boiled coconut) and nasi sela (cassava rice).

I grew up in Bali and I feel truly Balinese. I get annoyed when people say I am not Balinese, which used to happen a lot when I was a child.

I spent my childhood in my mother’s village, Panestanan. Back then there weren’t many mixed marriages, just a few locals who married foreigners. As a son of a mixed marriage, sometimes I got a hard time from my friends, who would shout at me that I was a tourist and not a Balinese. The would say I had a European face or point to my long European nose. I never thought too much about what they said, though; I just enjoyed my life and took it easy, but I was a little angry at the comments.

My father never taught me how to paint. He told me to be a lawyer or economist. “Don’t be a painter,” is what he said. So I tried to study law and economics, to make my parents happy, but I didn’t feel happy and as a result I didn’t work very hard at my studies, and eventually I stopped altogether and enrolled at the art academy at Udayana University in Denpasar.

I feel that my spirit is in art. Even though I had never had any professional training, I just jumped into that field.

Because of my father’s name, the university accepted me without any tests. They believed I had the talent to be a painter, and my father’s name was the guarantee of that. They didn’t know that my father never taught me how to paint. I didn’t even know the basics.

I remember one time all the new students were together and painting, and everyone was watching me. I was very nervous. Everyone kept looking at what I was doing; they were wondering what Blanco’s son’s paintings would be like. They watched everything I did. At that time, I wasn’t so good. My friends were much better than me, as they had already studied painting in high school. But I kept at it, and learned from them. I had a car and would often take them around the place, searching for good views that we would paint together. It took about six months for me to become a good painter.

I use fruit, flowers and water as the source of my inspiration and objects for my paintings. I think these three are very important in life. Every religion uses these to get closer to God. Besides those, I also paint women. My father appreciated women a lot. He thought the most beautiful thing in this world was women, especially Balinese women; that’s why he painted them.

There are two types of tree that I think are important, and that amaze me: the coconut tree and the banana tree. Both are full of uses. The coconut tree can be used from its root to its leaves and the banana tree dies once it has produced fruit. Up until it has fruit, the banana tree keeps growing and growing and even if you cut it, it will keep on growing.

I also think that women, especially those who have had babies, are amazing. They are like a candle, giving light to the people around them. Women’s bodies are in their worst state after being pregnant or giving birth. Women know the risks of being pregnant and having a baby, but they keep on doing it. That amazes me.

I have painted my wife naked, with a lentera (old lamp) as the focal point. That painting means that a woman is as valuable as the lentera, or a candle.

I’ll have something to eat around 6:30pm and go to temples for the night after I’ve bathed and prepared myself for praying. I go with friends, and my driver takes us. I’ll bring some canang (offerings) with me. We make the canang ourselves; it’s much more meaningful than just buying them from a seller.

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