Paul first knew Prince Tjok Gus, who has recently married Javanese television star Happy Salma, and his brother Tjok Day as boys in Bali having stayed with their mother and father Princess Asri and Prince Tjokorda Raka in Ubud, a hill town in Bali, an island in the Indonesian Archipelago. Prince Raka was to make the splendid ceremonial offering of fruit and incense for the opening of Paul’s exhibition of paintings in 1978, inspired by his stay in Bali, held at the Holdsworth Gallery Sydney. Princess Asri was Jane Gillespie in an earlier life, daughter of Colonel Rollo Gillespie, the Aid de Camp of the NSW Governor Sir Roden Cutler and a student at The Australian International Independent School, headed by the visionary Bill Eason, where Paul had been a teacher.
In Bali, while staying at the Palace, Paul was invited to bring his paints and accompany Raka on his travels to villages dizzily perched on steep vantage points amid the rice fields. It was the sacred custom for the Prince of Ubud to supervise the necessary repairs to each of the sacred sculptural Barong, the king of the spirits, a protector, which took the form of a lion or various other animal forms in different villages. The Barongs spent most of their time in special, beautifully carved buildings and would only be brought out for dance dramas on festive or religious occasions. This was in the days when there may be one television set in a village in front of which on wood fired smoky evenings the residents would sit attentively. This intrusion of the wider world was peripheral however and the traditional way of life went on blissfully unchanged. Now Tjok Gus is a man and is continuing his family’s great contribution in Ubud, a centre having a tradition in the arts. The preservation of living culture which is a Balinese way of life is something unique and to be treasured.
On the other side of the globe Monaco recently celebrated the wedding of Princess Charlene and Prince Albert. As a boy Paul remembered the excitement surrounding the 1956 wedding of Albert’s mother, the actress Grace Kelly, to his father Prince Rainier.
These occasions are a time to celebrate all those who believe in romantic love, an uplifting reminder of the essential gift of one person to the other. Who is not a Prince and Princess on their wedding day? As the song says, “Everybody loves a lover” Art expresses this quality in portraiture. Every good portrayal is a visual history of the mutual attraction of the antecedents of that person going back into antiquity. Over the years Paul has painted many married couples. He says, “They are simply paintings of love.”