Sanur Gives Fresh Inspiration to One of World’s Greatest Painters


By Rucina Ballinger
For The Bali Times

SANUR ~ Nico Vrielink is an esteemed painter born in 1958 in Reusel in the south part of the Netherlands. Originally he was educated at an art academy in Belgium to become a teacher. But teaching wasn’t his destiny and since 1984 he has been working as an artist.

A year later, in 1985, Nico met his wife, Jeane Seah, in Singapore. It was love at first sight and since the day he started painting her, he has never stopped. Nico has made more than 5,000 paintings of Jeane.

When he first started drawing, in primary school, his parents thought it was cute. But as the years went on and he decided to take art seriously, they balked. “How can you support yourself as an artist?”

His father was a glassblower and finally relented and sent him to an art academy. He taught drawing but wanted more, so he taught himself to paint and in l985 called himself a professional artist.

Coming to blows with the director of the art academy, Nico left. In the meantime, he had bought a flat and wasn’t able to pay the mortgage. He went to the bank manager, who, upon seeing his paintings, gave him a year to sell his works and then to begin paying back the loan. The gods were with Nico and he sold half his paintings at the first exhibition and thereafter all his paintings had red “sold” tags on them. He paid off his mortgage and flew to Singapore, where his life changed.

It was love at first sight when he met Jeane. Nico will be the first one to tell you that Jeane is his muse, as well as his lifelong partner. Inspired by her immense spiritual strength, Nico has put her in settings as diverse as a pool hall and a Balinese temple.

The next exhibition featured exclusively paintings of his muse, Jeane. Within 30 minutes, all the paintings had been sold. And this happened time and again at galleries all over the world.

The couple has lived all over the world: in a old, sprawling farmhouse in Holland; in a small castle in the south of France; in an immense apartment in Montpelier, France; a 14th century chateau in Burgundy, France; and now, for the time being, they are in a garden house in Sanur, Bali.

Nico regards the world as his working territory. “Art travels easily” seems to be his motto and he combines his artistic gift with old-fashioned Dutch business sense. His family is used to his spur of the moment – “Let’s move somewhere else” and share in the excitement this can bring. Their two sons are now in their late teens and traveling themselves as university students.

Nico has garnered a great deal of media attention over the past two decades. Countless newspapers, magazines, books and television documentaries have given him and his work extensive coverage worldwide. His paintings touch some universal heartstring and over the years that is what has brought him international acclaim. He has had over 500 exhibitions, his most recent at the Ganesha Gallery at the Four Seasons Jimbaran.

Working in his gazebo in his Sanur garden, Nico has been inspired by the immense beauty of his natural surroundings. An entire collection of exotic creatures – including, of course, the ubiquitous gecko lizard – have collected in this small open space that encompasses the “big” space of his work universe on this island.

Bali has a special place in Nico’s heart as it was here that the relationship with Jeane began. When they met 24 years ago in Singapore, Jeane took him to Bali and said, “I’m an island person. Let’s see if you can live on an island as well,” and 20 years later they came to live here. He passed — with flying colors. And those colors have been flying around the world since.

There will be three exhibitions featuring completely different paintings and run concurrently as well as simultaneously from the 30 January 30- March 27, 2009, at the following venues:

Friday, January 30
Quidzy Gallery and Showroom
(artist will be present and there will be a performance and buffet)
Jalan Kunti II, No. 20
Banjar Seminyak Kuta
(by Sunset Road east of petrol station)
Open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.
Tel: +62 (0)361 73 86 31 or +62 (0)81 855 25 35

Friday, February 6
Quidzy at Fashion Point
Jalan Raya Seminyak 63
Open daily from 10 am to 10 pm.
Tel: 738631 or 081 855 2535

Friday, February 13
The Swiss-Belhotel Bay View
Jl. Kebo Iwa, Taman Mumbul
Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia
Tel: 847 8000

For further information, contact Rucina Ballinger at 081 238 05623 or

Filed under: Arts & Entertainment

Comments are closed.