This is Ogut
Even if you’ve never met Ogut, you’ve seen his hand in the artistry of Bali. All those times you’ve admired a mural on the wall of a restaurant, puzzled over how long it must have taken to paint every tiny tile of a mosaic feature piece on the floor of a store, marvelled at a cool sign or one of Souq's swirling resin surf fins that look like they’ve been poured from stained glass, you’ve been seeing Ogut. His talent and the diversity of mediums he works with are mind-blowing.
He is one of the hardest-working people I know. He always shows up, works through the night and picks up the slack of other people to make sure the job gets done. And like artists all over the world, he earns very little money.
In Bali right now, businesses are closing, not just for lockdown but many for good. For those that are open, art doesn’t fall high (or at all) on the list of necessary expenses. Ogut is entirely without income and since he is Javanese, he doesn’t qualify for any food assistance from his local banjar. He has also recently been very ill with typhus and is a slither of his former frame and noticeably weaker than usual. His oldest daughter is 3 months pregnant and she and her husband have both lost their jobs at local supermarkets. He has two other young children at home studying.
In these dire circumstances, Ogut didn’t ask for money from the many foreigners he has worked for - he wrote to everyone and asked ‘do you have some artwork job for me?’
When I sat down with Ogut, he had idr 20,000 in his pocket (aud 2) and his wife had 340,000 (aud 34) to last them indefinitely. I asked him how things were really going for him and he said "everything is at your own hand, Sophie - I live by the words of my father who said ‘if you try hard to find a way, you will find a way.'"
No wonder that it took a lot of coaxing for him to accept a small gift of financial assistance - with tears in his eyes, he said ‘I will share this with the guy in my street who wheels the bakso cart every day and with my daughter for her baby’.