Willem Gerard HOFKER

Born in 1902, Willem Gerard Hofker’s career accelerated when he won 2nd place at the Prix de Rome in 1924. After that, he received prestigious commissions and was eventually asked to create a portrait of Queen Wilhelmina for delivery to the Dutch East Indies. He and his wife, Maria Rueter (also a painter) delivered the painting to the colonies in 1938. The pair liked Indonesia so much that they decided to settle in the town of Ubud, located in Bali. 

The Balinese period of Hofker’s life, which included internment in three different Japanese POW camps, his arrangement to trade one work of art a month with his captors, and the outdoor studio he established during his imprisonment, all speak to a character defined by a creative focus, intensity, and determination to thrive in even the direst conditions. In 1946, after being reunited with Maria (interned in a different camp), the couple decided to return home to the Netherlands, settling in Zomerdijkstraat, a suburb of Amsterdam. After his return, Hofker again began receiving commissions for murals and portraits. However, he would receive scant critical attention for the next 30 years, as the prevailing tastes were for abstraction throughout Europe. Not until the 1970s was his work once again recognized and celebrated. With recognition came the 1978 publication of the book Bali as Seen by Willem Hofker. The artist passed in 1981.